Helpful Tips for Visiting Arches National Park with Kids
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If you are planning a family trip to Arches, you are in the right place. These are our best tips for visiting Arches National Park with kids, including special tips for taking a toddler and baby.
We have visited Arches National Park with toddlers, preschoolers, big kids and most recently a pregnant mama. While I was wobbling around 7 months pregnant, I was thinking about how to plan a trip to Arches National Park with a baby.
Is Arches National Park worth the visit?
Absolutely, in fact, we have spent multiple days in Arches over two different trips. We would love to go back again when the new baby is born.
Arches National Park in Utah is an incredible destination the whole family can enjoy. You will find thousands of sandstone arches, massive fins, giant balanced rocks, and thousands of soaring cliffs. It is bordered by Colorado River in the Southeast and Moab town in the South,
Geology shaped this area in a special way to create many great sites that are wonderful to see and hard to forget. Culture, adventure, and beauty await families who visit this wonderland every year.
That said, you will need some extra preparations for these outdoor adventures with kids. Juggling between keeping your kids safe (and happy) and getting the most out of the visit, can be a difficult balance. Here is what you should know before visiting the park with your toddler:
This is part of our series on Arches National Park and the Moab Area. You will also find this information helpful to planning your family trip to Arches National Park:
- The Best Way to See Arches National Park in One Day
- 18 Fun Things to do in Moab
- Guide to Canyonlands National Park
Before you leave for your trip you should prepare to be in Arches National Park with kids. This means packing correctly, planning where to stay, how to get there and what to see once in the park.
Follow these tips for visiting Arches National Park with kids. I have even included tips specific to Arches with a baby and small children.
The Best Time to Visit with C
Summer can be uncomfortably hot, particularly for young children, babies, or pregnant mamas. Besides, many people add Arches as part of a summer road trip, which means the crowds can be quite intense.
On the other hand, winter in the area can be very cold but the park will be very quiet.
So the ends of the shoulder seasons will undoubtedly offer a great compromise in terms of crowds and weather. By this I mean, the best time in terms of weather is April-May and September -October but the park will be busy. We have visited in November, which was a perfect time to visit.
Tips for Packing for An Arches Trip with Kids
Depending on the time of year you will visit, the temperatures you will face will be different. In the summer you could be in the
No matter the time of year though, you will be in the desert with strong sunshine and lack of water.
Note: We have a complete 15-page packing list for the perfect family trip here: Complete Packing List for Any Family Vacation
This list is just the necessities specific to Arches National Park with kids.
- Lots of layers of clothing – T-shorts, sweatshirts, jackets
- Light rain jacket and rain pants
- Winter coats, gloves, hats for a cold-weather trip
- Hiking boots
- Sun hats
- Sunscreen – the desert sun is intense even in winter
- Refillable water bottles for each person
- Picnic blanket and cooler or basket
- First aid kit
- Sanitizer and wipes
- Backpack carrier (for baby)
- Jog stroller (for baby)
- A camera that is easy to use with kids
We have a comprehensive packing list for your next trip. You can read more on our blog here and download it. This list has everything you need for a trip, including special items for toddlers and babies. Download the list here.
Bring a Good Baby Carrier Backpack
Arches can be the perfect playground for your baby or toddler. H
So what makes a suitable carrier for your kid in the Arches National Park? Because the area has various trails, both challenging and moderate, a good carrier should be comfortable for you and the baby. I suggest going for something durable, feature-packed, lightweight, ergonomic, and functional.
Use the following criteria when looking for the ideal baby carrier:
- Weight: Should be lightweight
- Comfort: Should be comfortable
- Ease-of-use: Easy to use
Our favorite over the years has been the Ergo baby carrier. You will see one of us wearing it in many pictures on the blog. We have been really happy with the Dueter Backpack with sun top as well.
Best Family-friendly Places to Stay
As you may already be aware, Arches National Park is remote and the town of Moab is small. In the warmer seasons camping inside the park or nearby is a good option.
Devils Garden Campground is the only campground in Arches National Park. Reserve your spot at the recreation.gov website. The campground is best for tent camping and small self-contained RVs. Flush toilets and water are available. Hookups for RVs are not available.
Alternatively, you can camp at Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse State Park, or private campgrounds in Moab.
Hotels and Rentals in Moab
Staying at a hotel or rental property in Moab is a good idea if you are traveling with young children or in the winter. I suggest you go for a centrally located option in a town closest to the park entrance. Also, you are traveling in summer; a swimming pool may come in handy.
Nearby hotels with a pool include:
- SpringHill Suites by Marriott
- Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott
- Super 8 by Wyndham Moab
- Holiday Inn Express
To find more places to stay check our Moab link at Booking.com. You will find pictures, descriptions, and reviews of places to stay. Booking.com does not charge a booking fee and you can cancel reservations for free. So if you find a place you like, check the cancellation policy and reserve right away – Moab Area fills fast. Check availability and pricing here.
Bring Food for Snacks and a Picnic.
There is no food inside Arches National Park and the closest restaurants are in Moab. Therefore, bring a small cooler with lots of drinks, snacks, and a picnic lunch and possibly dinner.
No matter where I go I have snacks on hand to avoid meltdowns. In Arches National Park this is particularly important because you may be an hour from food.
In the summer heat, you will need more water and fluids than you can imagine. You will find reminders everywhere that it’s easy to become dehydrated even in cold weather. The National Park Service suggests drinking 1 gallon of water per day.
When we went I had a
When you have a baby with you, fluids are extra important. Make sure that you stay well hydrated if you are nursing or enough milk for the baby and extra bottles.
If you follow our 1 day itinerary for visiting Arches National Park, I suggest picnicking at the Devils Garden campground in the park. The area has picnic tables and is open for the kids to play.
Plan Your Day Ahead of Time
Although Arches is not Utah’s biggest park, it is still massive. There are so many things to do at Arches: from sightseeing to various levels of hikes to terrific
The secret is to plan your time well. For example, we passed up the most fun hike for kids – Sand Dunes Arch – because we ran out of time on our first visit. You bet it it was on the list for our next trip!
If you want to do the Delicate Arch is one of the most famous arches in the park, it takes time to hike it. Also, Delicate Arch is a difficult hike for young children, so plan your hikes wisely. (See the section below on best hikes for kids).
Sure, you can plan your time at your stop at the visitor’s center. I have done this plenty of times but I always seem to leave with something left on my must-see list. Your valuable time is better to spend enjoying the park. Start by
My recommendations for what not to miss is in our article: The Best Way to See Arches National Park in One Day
Choose the Best Easy, Short Hikes for Kids
Hikes at the Arches National Park come in various levels of intensity. Choose easy short hikes that are an appropriate level for your family.
We have spent days completing many hikes in Arches National Park. We have visited with toddlers, young children, big kids and more recently when I was eight months pregnant.
So we know from experience which hikes are doable with small children and less active adults.
If you have a toddler or baby, remember that you might be carrying them part or all of the way. I completed some of these hikes 8 months pregnant, so I know you could do it with young children!
The best hikes to choose our short, easy to navigate and run and play, have interesting Points along the way, and end in a unique destination.
The kids particularly enjoy playing in the sand, climbing on small rocks and running the paths.
These are the best hikes to do with small children, toddlers, and pregnant mamas in order of distance from the visitors center. To locate these trails within the park, download the Arches National Park Map here .
Balanced Rock (0.3 miles)
The long flat path that leads to the Balanced Rock is easy with kids and strollers. The Balanced Rock is visible from viewpoints along the way and from the parking lot. So have to kids watch for it as you drive along.
Double Arch (0.5 Miles)
We completed this hike with a toddler, who loved it. The path up to the viewpoint is long
The last part is scrambling up the slick rock to stand inside the arch and get the picture. The other side of the Arch drops off, so use your best judgment for what is safe for your family.
The Windows Loop (1 mile)
The parking lot across from the Double Arch is the trailhead that leads to The Windows Loop. This trail leads you along a 1-mile loop that you can see the North and South Window and Turret Arches. We have completed the entire loop with a toddler.
This time, when I was pregnant I walked part of the
Delicate Arch Viewpoint (0.3 miles)
For older kids, you can do the most well-known hike in the park, Delicate Arch but the trail is 3 miles long and difficult. (Here is a good review of the entire hike with kids.) But if you want to see the iconic Utah arch, you can hike to the Upper Viewpoint (0.3 miles) or Lower Viewpoint (0.1
Another option if you have a high clearance for wheel drive vehicle is to follow the dirt road leading from the parking lot. This road follows Cache Valley, but you only need to drive a couple of hundred feet to get a view of the Delicate Arch.
Wolf Ranch and Ute Petroglyphs
While you are at Delicate Arch trailhead don’t forget to see the Wold Ranch and Ute Petroglyphs. This hike is short, easy and educational. For history buffs or for kids who have not seen ancient rock art, I highly recommend this short hike.
From the parking lot walk about .2 miles to the historical 1800s homesite of John Wesley Wolfe. Another.3 miles beyond the cabin you arrive at a rock art panel. What we found interesting, is the more modern style than the other archaic Petroglyphs we had seen. Sometime between 1650 and 1850
Sand Dune Arch (0.2 miles)
This hike is super fun for kids to walk in the soft sand between the fins. After walking between the narrow fins the trail opens to a wider
It would be a wonderfully refreshing place to play in the hot summer. The trail is a quick hike, but plan on playing in the soft sand there for a while.
In the late fall, the whole hike and arch are in the shade so it can be cold, especially in the morning. Wait till the afternoon and wear layers.
Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch (1.2 miles of the Devils Garden)
This short out and back hike is a good way to see part of the popular Devil’s Garden area near the campground.
The tunnel arch is the first stop at about .3 miles. You can view the high arch from a distance.
Hiking another .3 mile, the trail ends at Pine Tree Arch. The view through the arch with mountains in the background is spectacular. This large Arch is particularly good for small children because you can stand underneath it with the flat ground on either side. Plus it has a large sandy area to play in.
Note: The trail is easy but has a downhill section in the beginning – that’s means uphill on the way out.
Skyline Arch (1 mile)
This trail also starts from the Devils Garden campground area.
The trail is 1 mile but you don’t have to walk far to get a good view of the arch. The sign at the trailhead tells of the unique fact about this arch. About 75 years ago, a large chunk of rock fell out and doubled the size of the Arch.
Utah’s Adventure Family has a good review if this hike.
Stroller Friendly Hikes in Arches National Park
Arches is not a particularly stroller friendly park that’s why we suggest a good carrier in tip #. The rough trails, rocks to negotiate and the sand are all difficult with a stroller. However, if you have a good jog stroller you can find a few trails that you can push the baby or toddler.
In addition, any of these hikes are also wheelchair friendly so would be a good option to choose with family members who may need more assistance walking.
- Balanced Rock
- Double Arch
- Wolf Ranch
- Delicate Arch Lower Viewpoint
Prepare to go Slow
Although hiking with a young one can be amusing, it is usually much slower. Plan to double or even triple whatever time the brochure says the adventure will take. Keep in mind that neither you nor the baby will have a great time if you hurry so as to keep time. Take your time; bribe them with snacks to keep going as you enjoy the breathtaking views.
Participate in the Junior Ranger Programs
On your way in, don’t forget to stop by the visitor center to grab a Junior Ranger Explorer booklet. The booklets contain various engaging activities to help kids explore the park and get an idea of the environment they are in.
The books contain different levels of activities so any child can participate. Even our toddlers that are old enough to draw and answer questions get to participate. They love standing up with the big kids!
Each booklet consists of different activities to complete during your visit to the park. At the end of your visit, you return the booklet to the Ranger at the visitor center. Each child will then be sworn in as a junior ranger and given a cool badge specific to Arches
Teach Your Kids to Respect the Park’s Resources
Arches National Park is a special place that has been preserved for geologic and cultural resources. Teach your children to respect the park’s resources, be aware of others and follow the rules.
Practice leaving no trace. Leave plants rocks and artifacts where you see them do you not read or disturb the animals. Also, don’t build additional cairns on the trails
Take care of the historical features of Wolfe Ranch and the petroglyphs. Anytime you see ancient rock art make sure to follow proper ROCK ART ETIQUETTE. Enjoy the beauty by photographing it but do not touch the art or scratch the rocks.
Similarly, do not scratch any rocks or features in the park. Graffiti damages the sandstone and is difficult to remove.
One of the hardest rules for our kids, especially the boys, to follow is to stay on the path. You will hear us trailing behind almost the entire time – stay on the trail…
Be Aware of Cactus and Yucca Plant
Getting cactus or yucca in your ankle is so painful and the itch lasts a long time. Cactus and yucca are prevalent in the park. Both have hard tips that can penetrate any soft clothing and puncture the skin. It is excruciating, and the tip can break off when it is inside the skin.
Our five year old ended up with a cactus in his shin (a lesson to stay on the trail) and he was miserable while his Daddy tried to remove the spines.
The best way to remove cactus spines is with tweezers. So remember to pack a good set of tweezers (tip #1), just in case.
Be Cautious for Snakes
Although the odds of seeing snakes on popular hiking trails are very slim, you should still exercise caution. Most of the snakes found in Arches are harmless and nocturnal.
There are small rattlesnakes in the park fortunately, visitors rarely encounter them. The midget-faded rattlesnake, a small subspecies of the western rattlesnake, has extremely toxic venom.
When anywhere in the desert take precautions by wearing proper hiking boots, stay on the trails and look before placing your hands or feet somewhere. If you do see a snake on the trail, just stop far enough away (15 feet or more) and give it a chance to move on. Don’t corner it, poke at it, or otherwise threaten it.
What Not to Do with a baby or toddler in Arches National Park
While the park has plenty of things to do with kids, we have found some things you should not do with a baby or very young children. Some of the hikes are too challenging or dangerous for most families. (Of course, this tip might not apply to you if you are an avid outdoors family and spend time on difficult trials.)
The Delicate Arch hike is difficult and long. Many people recommend that you do not take children under 4 on this hike. My family enjoyed the Delicate Arch Upper Viewpoint. When I was pregnant I walked to the Lower Arch Viewpoint which the trail was short and flat. Also, the dirt 4X4 road from the parking lot offers a great view of the arch within a couple of hundred feet.
The Fiery Furnace hike is difficult and requires a permit from the National Park. The park does allow kids with an adult, but I don’t think its worth it. I suggest you take your kids to the overlook for the Fiery Furnace area and take pictures.
Don’t forget to take photographs! Arches National Park is famous for its spectacular photographs. Of course, you are here on a family trip not a photography expedition but you should still leave with some beautiful photos.
I have had times when I am so focused on the kids and the sights that I forgot to take pictures! Since the camera on my iPhone is so amazing, I have no excuse and am bummed when we get home. With digital cameras, you can take and delete as many pictures
The last tip is not to push too hard. Go slow, enjoy the day, and leave plenty of time for playing and running around. Racing from viewpoint to viewpoint or hike to hike is a recipe for a meltdown. Take the time to see the sights from your kids’ vantage point.
Wrapping up Our Tips for Visiting Arches National Park
Visiting Arches National Park with kids, even a toddler or baby, can be one of the most incredible adventures you will ever have. You will create memories for your family and your children. Being prepared for your visit and following these tips will help you.
From our experiences visiting Arches National Park and the Moab area with kids, we have created a series on this area. I think you may like more information in the following articles:
- The Best Way to See Arches National Park in One Day
- 18 Fun Things to do in Moab
- Guide to Canyonlands National Park
Do your research well, know what to expect, what to do, how to do it, and you will be good to go. And don’t forget the basics; sunscreen, plenty of water, snacks, lunch and a
Just be sure to keep these tips for visiting Arches National Park with kids in mind so that your family has a fun and safe time at the park.
Let me know in the comments if you have any more tips for Arches National Park with toddler, baby or big kids.
Hi, I’m Shauna – Welcome to Family Travel Fever. We are a large family, that was bitten by the travel bug! I take the kids by myself because I don’t mind flying or driving solo with my crew to discover the coolest places.
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I have been searching the internet for a list of stroller-friendly hikes in Arches and you are the first one to actually provide what I am looking for! Thank you!
Your welcome! I am glad the article was helpful! Enjoy your trip! Feel free to ask if you have any more questions.
This is SO helpful!! THANK YOU!
Great! Have a wonderful trip!
We’re going to Arches in 3 weeks. I have a 4 year old and a 9 months old baby the that time. It will be on Sept.23-26. Should I still bring a winter jacket? Or a light sweater is enough?
I had fun reading this article. I am more excited than ever!
Bring layers. It could be hot during the day still and cold at night around the campfire if you are camping. I would recommend a long sleeve, a warm fleece, and a rain jacket for over the top. Don’t forget hats, the wind can make it chilly.
thank you thank you!!! was curious if it made sense to bring a stroller for our 2.5yo and seems like a carrier is all we need. appreciate this, couldn’t find much other info out there 😉