No one can deny the allure and magic of Arches National Park – it’s one of the prettiest national parks in the US for a reason. However, when it comes to deciding the best time to visit Arches National Park, you’ll want to be in the know.
This is one of the most crowded national parks in America – and with good reason. It’s utterly beautiful.
From the mega epic scenic drives, to the famous archways that give the park its name, there is a lot to see.
As a result, this place is always busy. But as an absolute expert at beating the crowds in America’s most beautiful places, I’ve got you covered.
This post dives into the absolute best time to visit Arches National Park. From when to visit for the best weather, to when to visit Arches to beat the crowds, you’ll get it all.
So make the most of your Arches National Park itinerary with this expert guide to visiting the park like a pro, not a tourist.
About This Guide to the Best Time to Visit Arches National Park
This guide is here to help you quickly determine the best time to go to Arches National Park based on what you want to get out of your visit. This guide covers:
- When to visit Arches to avoid the crowds
- When NOT to visit Arches
- When to visit Arches for photography
- What weather to expect in Arches for each season
When is the Best Time to Visit Arches National Park?
If you want to explore the best hikes in Arches, spring and early fall will offer the best moderate weather for adventuring on foot around the park. Desert hiking can get too hot for most people during the summer.
April to May and September to October are also great months for doing some desert camping in Arches.
Pro Tip: Arches is one of the best national parks to visit in the fall thanks to the mild weather and stunning sunsets.
Arches National Park Timed Entry Requirements
Arches National Park has implemented a new timed-entry system, requiring visitors to secure a special reservation if you intend to access the park between 7 am and 4 pm from April through October.
To snag a reservation, you can book your timed entry up to 3 months in advance, commencing at 8 am MST for the specific month you plan to visit. For instance, if you’re eyeing a trip to Arches in May, reservations open on February 1 at 8 am MST.
Although a limited number of time slots will become available the day before at 6 pm, it’s highly recommended not to rely on this last-minute option. Securing your preferred time slot well in advance is the best approach. Reservations can be made through recreation.gov.
Don’t like timed entry? You’ll need to enter the park before 7 am or after 4 pm April through October, or visit during October through April when no timed entry system is in place.
When to Visit Arches to Avoid Crowds
Arches is an extremely popular park. So if you want to avoid the biggest crowds, plan your visit to Arches National Park in the winter.
We visited over Christmas and had the places to ourselves until around 11 am. It was EPIC. And you can enjoy it too.
Although the weather will be chilly, if you wear proper layers, you can still enjoy your visit. Just pack warm clothing and even a thermos of coffee to keep toasty.
Arches is a top national park to visit in winter for two reasons. Fewer people and seeing the arches dusted in snow is mesmerizing.
Of course, you’ll have to be prepared for snow in the winter, which can close down roads and trails. However, a dusting of snow can also make sights like the iconic Delicate Arch even more special.
No matter the season, you can try to avoid some of the crowds in Arches by visiting the park early in the morning or later in the afternoon (think around sunset).
The busiest time during the day is from 9am to 2pm, so spend that time exploring other things to do in Moab, and avoid the long lines that build up to enter Arches.
When NOT to Visit Arches National Park
I would definitely not recommend visiting Arches in the summer.
First of all, it’s the desert, which means it will be uncomfortably hot, with temps during the day easily getting over 100ºF. Yuck.
Not to mention, the rocks reflect heat like an oven, so even an 80-degree day can be an energy-draining scorcher.
Plus, despite the heat, Arches is still super packed with visitors in the summer. So if you don’t want to be stuck in sweaty crowds, don’t visit Arches in the summer.
When to Visit Arches for Photography
One of the best things to do in Arches is taking cool pictures! If you want spectacular photos of the amazing formations in Arches, I would recommend visiting during the early morning or in the evening.
This way you can get beautiful sunrise or gorgeous sunset shots.
And you will avoid having to shoot around the massive crowds during the middle of the day. If you are into night photography, Arches is an awesome place to visit and shoot after dark (Double Arch and Landscape Arch are a personal nighttime fave).
Weather in Arches During Different Seasons
If you’re still wondering when you should make your visit to Arches, here’s an overview about what to expect from the weather during each season:
- Spring: Comfortable day time temps ranging from 60º to 80º F.
- Summer: This is the heat of desert season, so expect it to often be above 100ºF during the day. Late summer is also monsoon season, with a chance of flash floods.
- Fall: Another moderate season, especially in early fall. Late fall can bring cooler temps and snow.
- Winter: The temps during the day will be around 30º to 50º F, with temperatures at night potentially dropping to 0º. Snow is a possible hazard on trails and roads.
Additional Resources for Visiting Arches
Looking to make the most of your visit to Arches National Park? Check out these expert resources.