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Arches National Park: the name says it all. This national park, located in southeastern Utah boasts the highest density of rock arches anywhere on this planet: over 2,500 in an area of just about 116 square miles. While some of them might be just a few feet, others like the Landscape Arch stretches over 300 feet (almost 100 metres). Combined with magnificent rock-desert landscape and snowcapped peaks (at least in winter) in the background, it doesn't come as a surprise that this is one of the most favorite parks in the southwest of the USA and also a favorite place for movie makers! Although there probably will be arches forever, arches do come and go under the constant process of erosion - the influence of water and wind, freezing temperatures at night and hot days.
The park is open 24/7 year round. The visitor center is open from 7:30am to 6:30pm from April to October, 8am to 4:30pm from November to March.
Driving the 18-mile-long main road from the entrance station to the end at Devil's Garde Trailhead. There are two branches about halfway: one to the Window's Section, and one to the lower and upper Delicate Arch viewpoints. There are many places to stop on the way with many photo opportunities.
Great stops include the Fiery Furnace viewpoint, Salt Valley overlook, Panorama Point, Petrified Dunes Viewpoint and the short walk around Balanced Rock.
There are dozens of options, ranging from easy strolls to strenuous dayhikes. The toughest is the Devil's Garden Trail, which goes to Tunnel Arch, Pine Tree Arch, Landscape Arch, Partition Arch, Navajo Arch, before continuing to the arches further away: Double O Arch and Private Arch. Bring plent of water and figure about 6 hours for the whole loop including breaks and lunch.
Another popular but strenuous hike is the one to the Delicate Arch which gives you the opportunity to get that famous photo which is on Utah's licence plates.
Easier hikes include the Park Avenue hike in the south and the hike to the North Window and South Window, about halfway into the park.
Basically, with the absence of shuttle services in the park and buses that go to the park, you are stuck to using either your own wheels or take a tour, of which there are plenty from nearby Moab, the gateway town just 5 miles down the road (US 191).
Inside the park, the only budget option (in fact the only option at all) is the Devils Garden Campground. There are more options in Moab for everybody's budget: from campgrounds to 5-star luxury.
For more information about Moab's lodging check either the Moab, Utah website, the Moab Lodging website or the Discover Moab website.
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