Arches National Park is one of the most popular National Parks in the US. The park is not large but receives over 1.5 million visitors per year. Visiting here can be a breeze if you are properly prepared. Here is a list of what you what you need for a day in Arches National Park.

Arches National Park is incredibly popular. Travel tales and images from around the park are found everywhere. One of its main features is the unofficial symbol of Utah and can even be found featured on Utah license plates. I also remember seeing this park featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as a kid and thinking the landscape looked incredible. It really is!! Planning a visit? We are here to tell you what you need for a day in Arches National Park.

Getting There

Arches National Park is located a mere 5 miles from the small (yet extremely popular) adventure town of Moab, Utah. Moab is located on the eastern side of Utah, near the Colorado border. There is a small airport here, but flights are limited. Better options would be to fly into nearby Grand Junction, Colorado and rent a car.

For our trip to Moab and Arches National Park, we hopped in our car and took a combination of smaller 2-lane highways along with I-70. Having our own vehicle made our day visit to the park much easier to manage.

Where To Stay

Moab is filled with people who travel in their campers and RVs. They are everywhere here. Many visitors also spend their time in tents in nearby campgrounds. But if you’re like us and none of these options fit your style, there are several hotels to consider as well.

We booked our stay at the Moab Valley Inn. We liked this property because of its price, location, and free breakfast offerings. For the purpose of our visit to Moab – which was mostly outdoor activities – we found this hotel met our needs perfectly. Even though the hotel hosted several large tour groups, it never felt overly crowded. We even enjoyed the outdoor pool and hot tub after days spent exploring the surrounding area.

What You Need For A Day In Arches National Park

Spending a day in Arches National Park, traveling in your own car, is an easy way to explore the park on your terms. However, there are still things you need. If you aren’t sure what all to prepare, this is the list! Keep in mind, we visited Arches National Park in late May.

A Full Tank of Gas

Before heading to Arches, be sure to fill up your tank with gas. While the park isn’t large, it is spectacular. Having plenty of gas will help you take it all in! There are no services once you reach the entry line to the park. Be considerate during your visit and also save gas by not letting your car run whenever you stop to take in the views. Turn your car off each time you get out!

Timed Entry Pass

The most important thing you need to get into Arches National Park during peak season is your timed entry pass. You cannot enter the park without it during the months they are required. Passes are available for advanced purchase and prime slots sell out months in advance. Once you’ve obtained your pass, you can either print it or download the app and access it there. We recommend taking a screenshot of the pass if you choose this option. If you do not have your pass, and you do not follow the directions, you will be turned away. The lines are hours long so do not forget this.

Valid I.D.

Your time entry pass will be verified by National Park Rangers more than once. At the second checkpoint, you will need to show your pass for a second time, and you will need to show an accompanying valid I.D. The name on the pass must match the name of the I.D. presented, and that person must be in the car. No exceptions!

Payment Method

Even though you’ve purchased your timed entry pass, you will still need to buy your entry ticket to Arches National Park at the second checkpoint. Be sure you have a credit card, debit card, or other appropriate payment method with you so you can enter the park. There are a variety of entry ticket options to choose from so make sure to get the one that makes the most sense for your National Park visit(s).

Essential Items

It should come as no surprise that you need to be prepared when going into areas like this. Even though the park is small and this particular post focuses about visiting for one day by car, there are essential items you must take. These items are the basics you should take. You may need to pack more depending on the nature of your visit. For our day visit by car, we ensured we had the following basic items:

  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Water
  • Hats
  • Moisture wicking clothing (layers are best)
  • Proper shoes
  • Good socks
  • Food/snacks
  • Camera
  • Phone
  • First aid kit
  • Park map
  • NPS App with map downloaded for offline viewing
  • Trash bag

When preparing to leave, remember this – Arches National Park is hot in the summer. HOT! Add physical activity into the mix and it is easy to get yourself in trouble here. You want to customize your essentials to meet the needs and nature and season of your trip. Again, make sure you have the items listed above as a starting point. Take lots and lots of water! Make sure your camera and phones are well charged as you will be taking so many pictures of this spectacular place! If you pack it in, pack it back out!

Old Passport

This may seem like an odd thing to have with you when you go to Arches National Park, but there is a reason for it. You can stop by the visitor’s center and receive a souvenir stamp in your passport to commemorate your park visit! While this is a really fun thing to do, it comes with a catch. Make sure your passport is old. If you’re asking why it has to be old, we’re about to let you in on a little secret!

Adding souvenir stamps to a current, valid passport is actually considered defacing and could void your passport. Admittedly, I have a few souvenir stamps in my current passport and haven’t had any issues. But, moving forward, I won’t take the risk again. Why should you? If you don’t have a passport, that is ok too. You can add the stamp to anything. They also provide scraps of paper to use.

Hand Sanitizer and Wipes

These items may also seem like another interesting addition to things you need for a day in Arches National Park, but they are totally necessary. Again, this park is super popular! This means that the restrooms get a lot of traffic. Some restrooms are busier than others, some are nicer and cleaner than others. Whichever way you look at it, be sure to have both on hand. Most bathrooms do not have running water or soap. You can pick some hand sanitizer or wipes up for cheap at Dollar Tree.

A Sense Of Adventure

Perhaps one of the most important things you can take with you to Arches National Park is your sense of adventure. You will be awed by the natural wonders found within the park. You will find yourself walking narrow trails, scrambling over rock formations, and even taking off your shoes to feel soft sand between your worn-out toes. Arches National Park is the place for adventure!

Now that you know what you need for a day in Arches National Park, what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today! Happy travels!

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  1. This tells me everything I need to know to visit this great park! Especially that it would be too hot for me in the summer, lol, tho I’m sure it’s less busy. Love all your practical tips and suggestion to bring sense of adventure—that is key for any travel!

  2. Great post! Can’t wait to visit Arches hopefully soon. Also did you know that the National Parks has a passport book for filling with those stamps! You should get one, it’s fun to fill it up at all the parks and monuments.

  3. Oooh cool. I would never have thought to bring an old passport to add a national parks stamp – what a cool idea and souvenir. It’s also kind of cool that they have a timed entry to avoid the worst traffic jams.

  4. One of my favourite US national parks. The scenery is so otherworldly – like being on Mars or in a sci-fi movie. Loving the top tip about the passport stamp! Thanks for taking me down memory lane.

    1. Our wait (with the times entry ticket) was about 1 hour and 45 minutes to get into the park! It was worth the wait!

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