A visit to Arches National Park with kids has been on our family bucket list for quite some time. I’ve always been fascinated by the natural beauty of the American southwest. And the natural arch formations of the national park seem so beautiful to me.
So when we had the opportunity to visit Arches National Park during a trip through the state of Utah, we knew it would be worth our while. We had spent some time visiting Yellowstone with kids a few days prior, so we were excited to see some more United States national parks.
For families who love the spending time exploring the outdoors with kids, Arches National Park offers so many options for exploration. And while the park is quite approachable for families and kids of all ages, there are a few things you should know to make your trip more enjoyable.
This post was updated on March 11, 2021.
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Getting to know Arches National Park with kids
Arches National Park is located in eastern Utah, near the town of Moab. The park was established in 1929. It covers an area of roughly 120 square miles. Despite being a relatively small park, there are over 2,000 natural arches!
Going to Arches National Park is great with kids. While there are dozens of easy hikes you can do with kids at Arches National Park, there are certain things to keep in mind if you do plan to visit. The park is located in a desert, so the heat can be pretty brutal for little ones.
According to the National Park Services, park rangers perform dozens of search and rescues each year. Many of these missions are for visitors who experience heat exhaustion, dehydration, or climbing incidents. When visiting with kids, it’s important that you keep them safe to avoid an incident!
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Tips for visiting Arches National Park with kids
If you’re planning to visit Arches National Park with kids, here are seven tips to help keep your kids safe and healthy, and make the trip a memorable one.
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1. Hike early in the day
The desert can get hot! One of our biggest tips for visiting Arches National Park with kids is to do your hiking early in the day, before the desert begins to heat up. Alternatively, you can also do your hiking later in the day, after 5pm or so, but you may find that it can still be pretty hot even at that time. Most young kids don’t like to hike for too long anyway, so timing your hikes in the morning, and spending the afternoons driving or exploring the Visitor’s Center is a good strategy.
2. Practice safety when climbing on the rocks
Hiking around Arches National Park with kids can get a little risky. Although the trails are marked by small stone stacks, some of them go over rocks and boulders, even the easy ones. It’s best to provide a lot of supervision to your little ones when climbing up and down the rocks.
Additionally, it’s best to stay on the trails. Not only are you traveling responsibly by preserving the micro eco-systems in the desert, you’re also avoiding getting hurt.
3. Choose easy hikes
The hikes at Arches National Park come in varying levels of difficulty. If you’re planning on hiking with your kids at Arches National Park, you can choose some of the easier ones, like Balanced Rock (.3 miles), Landscape Arch (1.6 miles), Double Arch (.5 miles) or Windows Loop (1 mile). We chose to do a loop that took us to Tapestry Arch and through Broken Arch, which was roughly two miles.
4. Drink water!
As I mentioned before, the desert gets hot! At over 4,000 feet above sea level, it’s also considered a high desert, so the air can get pretty dry in that area.
When you’re hiking through Arches National Park with kids, make sure to bring plenty of water to keep your kids (and you!) hydrated. We like using the GRAYL bottle because it has a built in filter and purifier, so you can get drinkable water anywhere.
You can buy a GRAYL bottle of your own online using the links below. They come in 16oz and 24oz sizes.
GRAYL 16oz Ultralight bottle and filter
GRAYL 24oz Geopress bottle and filter
5. Give yourself time and take plenty of breaks
Another tip for hiking through Arches National Park with kids is to build in break time during your hikes. Your kids may not be used to hiking through deserts. And the heat may be tough for them to handle.
Make sure you allow time to rest in the shade and drink water. Heat stroke is a serious thing, especially for kids, so make sure to give your kiddos time to cool off and rest.
6. Learn about the natural environment at the Visitor’s Center
In the afternoons, when the sun gets hot, it’s the perfect time to take a visit to the Visitor’s Center to learn all about the desert and its ecosystem. The Visitor’s Center has some interesting videos of how the arches were made over time. This can make your visit to Arches National Park with kids educational too! Plus, they have Junior Ranger programs, so your kids can earn a Junior Ranger badge during their visit to the park.
7. Take an excursion to the dinosaur parks
The area around Moab is actually a common place for scientists to find dinosaur bones. If you have a budding paleontologist, take an excursion to one of the dinosaur parks that are outside of the National Park.
We visited the Moab Giants. It’s a dinosaur park with life-size models of dinosaurs. It also has 3D videos of the dinosaurs who lived in the sea. Visiting Moab Giants made our trip to Arches National Park with kids so much more fun!
Build in some extra time to explore Moab too!
The town of Moab is worth exploring too, if you have extra time after your trip to Arches National Park. With only a population of just over 5,000, Moab may seem like a small town in the middle of nowhere, but it’s packed with plenty of activities for families to do!
Families have plenty of options for hikes with kids in the Moab area. They vary in levels of difficulty and length. If your family is looking for a cooler option, they can raft or kayak on the Colorado River. A few companies in Moab offer rafting tours.
If you prefer to do a guided tour or organized activity, here are a few options for your family:
Arches, Canyonlands, and Dead Horse Point Guided Tour (from Moab in a Day)
Canyonlands and Arches Scenic Flight (from Redtail Air)
Arches 4×4 Adventure from Moab (from NAVTEC Expeditions)
Looking for other U.S. national parks to explore? Read my National Parks posts here.
Enjoying your time at Arches National Park with kids
Visiting Arches National Park with kids was incredible. Being Pacific Northwest kids, our little ones are used to national parks being filled with trees, mountains, and even oceans. So being at a park with deserts and rocks completely blew their mind.
If you’re planning a visit to Arches National Park with kids, be sure to follow these tips so that your family has a safe and fun time at the park.
Did I miss anything? Share your tips for Arches National Park in the comments below!
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Wow ! Looks like alot of fun ! But yes, safety is most important !
Aww, the kids are so cute! My nieces and nephews can be difficult when we go out so I think this would help 🙂
Arches NP is such an amazing place. we had planned to go last year, but couldnt hit there 🙁 hopefully, we would be able to make it there next year soon. Pics are so amazing. thanks for sharing.
Comprehensive tips for desert parks. Arches was our first and we couldn’t hike a lot. I wasn’t prepared! Learned my lessons then,
I am glad you decided to go to Arches National Park! Your photos are amazing and really make me want to go there too! I love all your tips about hiking with the little ones. Going early and choosing short hikes sure sound like a smart thing to do!
I think I’d definitely have to go to one of the dino parks! This sounds like an incredible day out even if you don’t have kids!
Arches National park is on my list of places to visit. Haven’t made it there yet. Thanks for the tips! The pictures look awesome.
These were exactly the types of vacations my family took when I was a child and I know that you’re kids are going to remember these experiences forever! It’s such a blessing to learn to appreciate these natural beauties from such a young age.
The archers national park is definitely a place that is highly on my bucketlist. How lucky are your kids to be able to go there at such an early age and enjoy it. Thanks for the tips.
Always wanted to visit here – thanks for the tips on how to navigate with kids! We haven’t really hiked that much in heat like that, so good to keep in mind!
With or without kids, this looks like an amazing place to explore! Thank you for the tips, I will definitely bring plenty of water. I’d head straight to the visitor’s center too.
I love your comprehensive article on hiking with kids. I’ve done similar hikes and totally agree, do it in the morning and be back before it heats up.
I’m glad you mentioned the junior ranger program. When my kids were little we had a nice collection of junior ranger badges and activity books. We all enjoyed the programs that our wonderful national parks offer. The kids we so engaged at that age.
I think it’s so important to get the kids started on hiking at an early age.