One of my favorite holidays with kids is to visit National Parks! They can’t be beaten for great family holidays and I especially love that you get to spend so much time outside as a family away from distractions and technology! On our last big trip to the US, we knew that one place we wanted to visit was Moab. Not only is it a funky town but it also has access to two national parks and a great state park – the biggest draw out of all of these however was Arches National Park! It is one of the more iconic National Parks along with Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, and we knew we would spend a few days in the park. In this guide we round up how to visit and the best things to do in Arches National Park with kids!
Planning a Trip to Arches National Park with Kids
Best Time of Year to Visit Arches National Park with Kids
I always think there is never a wrong time to visit a National Park, but with Arches there are certainly better times! My personal recommendation for visiting Arches is going in a shoulder season – either Spring or Fall! Summer in Arches can get unbearably hot, especially if you are traveling with little people and it is also peak season which means the crowds can get insane! Conversely, winter in Utah can get exceptionally cold ! The shoulder seasons definitely offer the best compromise in terms of weather and crowds!
However if you do want to go in summer it can be done – that’s when we went but if I could have a pick of dates it isn’t the time I would pick! But I would rather go in summer that miss going to the park!
We booked our trip to Moab with little notice so there was not much choice accommodation wise for us! My number one tip for booking your accommodation is to book early to get the best selection and prices.
Moab is not a large place, but if you have a choice for accommodation I would either stay very centrally so you can walk to all the Moab restaurants or stay on the side of town closest to Arches National Park as you will want to get there early!
If you are traveling in summer then it is likely a pool will come in handy especially when traveling with kids. Our perfect summer day in Moab is to get up and into the park early and spend the afternoon relaxing in the pool!
The closest hotels to the Arches National Park entrance with a pool 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.
For something a little bit different families might like to consider Moab Under Canvas – a beautiful way to sleep under the stars in the desert!
Top Tips for Visiting Arches National Park with kids
Arches National Park is one of the busiest National Parks in the Country! I recommend visiting any National Park early in the morning as it is a better time to see wildlife, to beat the heat and beat the crowds however this is especially true for Arches National Park. The park gets so crowded after about 9 am, when we left one day we saw the queue hundreds of cars deep whereas when we went in at 6am we sailed through with no queue! Early evening is also a great time to visit Arches as is slightly less crowded but for me early morning is definitely the time you want to go
Hiking in Summer
If you are hiking in the summer months, then I would deinfitely recommend getting in the park early and aiming to have all your hikes finished by 10am! By this time the park is really starting to heat up
Buy a National Parks Annual Pass
If you are planning to visit more than one national park in the year (you are going to do at least two being based in Moab) then you might want to consider getting an annual national parks pass as if you are planning to visit multiple parks it is likely going to be a money saver!
What to Pack for Visiting Arches National Park
Although the summer gets hot, if you are in the park early there is a chance you feel a slight chill. For other times of year, you will definitely want lots of laters
Sun Cream, hats and other sun safe clothing
The summer months are exceptional hot and the sun gets very strong in the desert! Pack lots of cool light weight clothing that provides plenty of coverage, hats and of course plenty of sun cream.
Reusable Water Bottle and Pack plenty of water
You will need plenty of water for summer month hikes. Be sure you have adequate food and water supplies with you! We recommend taking a reusable water bottler with you to be more environmentally friendly!
Good Walking shoes
Whether you are going on the marked or primitive trails you will definitely want good hiking shoes for the whole family!
Toddler Back Pack Carrier
If you are travelling with a larger toddler or are planning on doing a more challenging hike that little legs might not be able to complete you should consider brining a back pack carrier such as this toddler back pack! This is definitely one our our toddler travel essentials!
Best Things to Do in Arches National Park with kids (or without)
Do the Arches National Park Scenic Drive
The Arches National Park Scenic Drive is an 18 mile drive around the park! The drive is brilliant as all of the main attractions are close to the parking area off the scenic drive! The great thing about the drive is that if you are travelling with littles who can’t handle long hikes or if the weather is particularly hot you can still see the best the park has on offer!
We recommend leaving the drive of the route until the afternoon or after you have finished your hikes as this can be done during the worst of the heat!
Do Great Family Friendly Hikes in Arches National Park with kids
One of the things we loved about Arches National Park is the fact that there are walks for all difficulties and hikers of all skill levels! The fact that there are some easy short hikes means that even little legs can do them!
Saying that we even managed to do some primitive trails with our toddler!
Our Five Favourite Family Friendly Hikes are:
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!
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!
This hike is just over 1.5 miles and is actually pretty easy. It is a must do when visiting Arches as it leads to the world’s longest arch!
The most famous of the arches in the park! This area can get very crowded so on the day you decide to do this hike you should drive straight there! This hike is about a 3 mile round trip and requires plenty of water. This is the most difficult hike on our list and not one for everyone I’m sure but we had to include this given the reward at the end!
Join the Park Ranger Program
Now my little one was too young to take part in this but the Junior Park Ranger program is something I have admired for a long time, and will definitely be introducing my little one to as soon as she is old enough!
Best Things to Do Near Arches National Park
- Visit Canyonlands National Park
- Visit Dead Horse Point State Park
- Moab Film Museum
- Castle Creek Winery
- Moab Giants
Have you been to Arches National Park with kids? What are your top tips and recommendations?