Moab is a fantastic town and unique its’ proximity to two national parks and one amazing state park! There is no way you can do justice to the area in just one day but sometimes life gets in the way! If you are short on time in Moab this guide will help to explain how to do Arches and Canyonlands in one day!
Can you do Canyonlands and Arches in One Day?
It is possible – I would personally recommend allocating more time, at least one day in each national park and some time set aside for Dead Horse Point State Point. However if you only have one day then you are able to visit both in one day!
Where to Stay to Visit Arches and Canyonlands in One Day
If you only have one day to visit both parks then you will definitely need to stay in Moab, but in particular I would recommend staying as close to Arches National Park Entrance as possible as you will need to be up and out very early!
The closest hotels to the Arches National Park entrance are:
- Springfield Suites
- Fairfield Inn and Suites
- Holiday Inn Express
- Aarchway Inn– has a free local shuttle into town
- Super 8 Moab– this is the most budget option we could find near Moab that still had access to a pool. However, be warned at peak season however even the budget options can get pricey especially if you aren’t booking in advance!How to Visit Arches and Canyonlands in One Day
For more information on the best time to visit Arches National Park check out this post.
Tips for Seeing Arches and Canyonlands in one day
Start Early and catch the sunrise
If you want to see both Arches and Canyonlands National Park in one day then you are definitely going to need an early start! Both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are 24 hour parks which means you aren’t waiting for the park to open to start your day. Depending on the time of year you visit will depend on what time you should head into the park but I recommend heading in for sunrise as there are some spectacular places in both parks to watch the sunrise in Moab.
Take A Packed Lunch
If you had more time, especially if you were visiting Moab in Summer, I would recommend planning to drive back into town and having lunch in Moab itself as a great way to escape the heat of the day. But if you only have one day in Moab then it definitely won’t be feasible to head into town for lunch. Neither Arches National Park or Canyonlands National Park have any great dining amenities. Therefore it is advisable to take lunch with you into the park. We also recommend packing a cool box and plenty of water. For a full Arches National Park packing list click here!
Decide how many hikes
Morning – Arches National Park in One Day
Be up and out as the sun rises and head to Arches. The Park gets very busy, especially in the summer months so you will need to head there first thing to avoid the queues.
You will not be able to do all the hikes if you are short on time but I would say you will have to see how quickly you can walk them and try to do the below three
This is the first stop as you enter the park and is simply breathtaking! Unfortunately this walk isn’t a loop but is is worth even walking part of the trail! Jump out the car and take some photos and at least walk some way of this stunning vista!
The trail around the Balanced Rock is half a kilometre and very doable even with small children! This is also a must have photo for your visit – the eroded rock that makes it looks like a smaller rock is balanced on top of the larger is a definite must-see!
The Double Arch and Turret Arch Trail
My favourite hikes are always loops so that you don’t have to repeat old ground. The Windows trail is just over a mile long and is circular! This was my absolute favourite walk in the park as you got to see a the best number of arches on a small walk. Even though we were travelling with a two year old we still managed to go off onto the primitive trail, following the cairns to see the arches without the crowds!\
If you have time then the 1.5 mile Landscape Arch, the longest arch in the world is well worth checking out.
Now perhaps one of the most iconic sites in Arches is Delicate Arch. This is a 3 mile round trip and not as easy as the above hikes. Realistically I don’t think you can cover this with the above in a day. If Delicate Arch is your must see then head to this first thing in the day and then see what time you have left to tackle the above!
There are no great lunch places in either park and to maximise your day you will not want to head back into Moab. Be sure to take your packed lunch with you and eat in one of the parks picnic areas.
Head to Canyonlands, this is probably a 30 minute drive from the Arches Entrance. Now although there are three areas to Canyonlands (Island in the Sky, Needles and the Maze), there is only one area – Island in the Sky – that can be added into a one day itinerary!
The great thing about Canyonlands – Island in the Sky – is that all of the trails, including the Mesa Arch trail are all very easy to reach and walk and you can probably tackle most of them in one afternoon – just be sure to take lots of water and sun cream if you are visiting Moab in summer. For more information on the best hikes in Canyonlands National Park check out this post.
Try and time the end of your day to be at Buck Canyon Overlook as this is the best place in Arches or Canyonlands to watch the sunset and get the best photos
If you have time to stay in the park at nightfall, Canyonlands is part of the dark sky programme so is a brilliant place to stargaze.
Excursions that can be done in Moab in One Day!
If you are looking to do the Moab area but would prefer a guided tour then there are several fun ways of doing tours for either a full or half day!
- See the Best of Moab in a Day Tour
- Colorado River and Canyonlands Combined Tour
- Half Day Family Float
- Half Day Rock Climbing
- Half Day Rafting Tour
Have you done Arches and Canyonlands in one day? What are your tips?
Further Moab Reading
- Best Things to do In Arches National Park (including hikes)
- Best Things to do In Canyonlands National Park (including hikes)
- Moab Packing List
- Moab Itinerary