Family Adventures in Arches National Park
Hi Everyone! We are the Fontes Four Pack, an adventurous family of four living in Salt Lake City, Utah! Both Andy and I (Tyler) have always loved the great outdoors and have gone on many backpacking adventures prior to starting our family and now love sharing these outdoor experiences with our boys. We truly love how much Caellum and Emmerich love being outdoors too! We took them on their first small hike at just a few months old in baby carriers in front of us and then transitioned them to deuter Kid Comfort carriers at 8 months old when they were old enough to transition to backpack carriers.
This past May, we decided to rent a campervan and road trip to Arches National Park for my birthday! This was our first time visiting Arches National Park and I must say that it is a fantastic park and actually much larger than I originally expected. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, giant balanced rocks, huge rock fins, and hundreds of soaring pinnacles that are truly stunning to see! Once we entered the park gates we drove the scenic 18 miles to the campground to set up camp. This drive alone got us so excited to go exploring with our 4 year old twin boys as some of the arches, rock fins, and balanced rocks are visible from the road. I will note that the arches require some hiking and can range from a quick 15 minute walk up to 4-5 hours depending on which arches you are wanting to see.
Arches National Park entrance is located just 5 miles outside of Moab and has only one campground within the park. Once we realized this, we knew we wanted to stay there! We highly recommend booking in advance if you can as this campground only contains 51 sites and books up quick all summer long! With that said, the campground was fully booked over our dates when planning a month prior but it did not stop me from checking their website about 10 times a day to try and book a sudden opening as people cancel reservations or shorten reservations all the time. On my second day of constantly looking one opened up and I quickly reserved it and then two days later another spot opened up for our second night stay. Yes, we had to move campsites in between our two night stay but it was totally worth it to be able to stay both nights in the campground! That and each of our sites were uniquely beautiful with different views of the desert so we ended up really enjoying the fact we got to experience the campground from different sites.
Our first night we stayed in camp site 045 (pictured in the above 2 images) and loved it with stunning views of the rock formations! I will add that the entire campground is wonderful, clean, organized and all sites have their own parking space, picnic table, fire pit and walking distance to well kept restrooms and wash stations for dishes. Some great advantages of staying here is that only reserved guests are allowed to drive in the campground so it's much less busy as the rest of the park and all the trailhead parking areas. There are also several arches walking distance from the campground and those were the first ones we explored!
Once our campsite was set up and finished lunch, we set off on our first arch adventure to see Broken Arch! The trail is a 2 mile loop from the campground and goes through grassy meadows, huge rock fins, and sand dunes. As this was our first arch to visit, we were blown away by its beauty and our boys got so excited to see it too! It is such a sight to see and the trail continues through the arch and involves some rock scrambling to get through, but our boys were up for the challenge and loved it.
If you continue on through Broken Arch you will come across a side trail to Tapestry Arch. This arch is less traveled but would definitely recommend making the extra short distance to see it. It rests along the fin wall with an opening at the top and beautiful to observe from a distance or hike up to the base to admire the beauty up close.
On our second day we drove just down the road and parked at the Devils Garden trailhead, which to reference is the end of the 18 mile road though Arches National Park from the Visitor Center. This location is one of the highlights of the park! Here you’ll find arches, spires, and a large concentration of narrow rock walls called “fins.” This trailhead leads to 8 miles of trail options and 7 different arches. We only made it to 3 of the 7 arches as we decided not to risk the more advanced trails with our twin boys. We will save those hikes for another time when they are older.
Devis Garden is also where you will find Landscape Arch, the longest arch in North America with a light opening of 306 feet! A large segment of this arch came crashing down in the 1990’s and because of this you are no longer able to hike up close or under it but can still admire its beauty from the trail. This arch is astonishing to witness and to see how thin the arch is and yet is still standing!
Landscape Arch is located 1 mile from the trailhead through the red rock desert landscape with little shade and the hike can get very hot in the summer months! Make sure to bring lots of water for your hike along with sunscreen and snacks to keep you fueled. We absolutely love our Deuter backpacks and on this trip hiked with our new Deuter Trail 26 and Deuter AC Lite 23. They both provide great storage for all our water, lunch and lots of snacks for the hike. Our boys are also obsessed with drinking from the Deuter Streamer Hydration Bladder from the backpack which allows them easy access to water throughout the day.
For the more adventurous hikers, you can keep hiking past Landscape Arch to several other arches that involve steep climbs and can be challenging. This trail goes through a section called The Scramble which is exactly how it sounds! It is a difficult section of the trail as it steeply climbs up and on the sandstone fins. Footing is rocky and there are narrow ledges with steep drop-offs. This made us super nervous to hike with the boys but found as long as you hold onto their hands tight to hike up/down it wasn’t too bad with our adventurous 4 year olds! But I will say, this section of the hike is not for everyone as the steep drop-offs on both sides of the fin will be very scary for anyone with a big fear of heights.
Once past that difficult section of the trail you will have the option to continue on to Double O Arch which is about a 2 mile hike out along a primitive trail or two short spur trails to Navajo Arch and Partition Arch. These two arches are located about a half a mile from Landscape Arch. Double O Arch is a much more difficult trail to handle with our boys so we decided to check out the shorter two hikes. Both of these arches were stunning!!!
We made it to Navajo Arch first and loved this one in particular because it was so uniquely different from all the other arches we experienced. It is a low profile and wider arch that you can walk under into a little sandy cove that provides lots of shade among the trees. We chose that location to enjoy our lunch and take a break from the sun. The views from inside the arch are also equally gorgeous looking out the other side of the arch to the trees and blue skies.