Stop at the visitors center to learn about the natural and human history of the park, then take the adjacent Desert Nature Trail to identify plants that make Arches home. From the visitors center, drive 11 miles to The Windows trailhead, where a number of easy trails lead to four arches carved into a fin of rock. Continue to the Delicate Arch trailhead, and hike up to the iconic arch before the day gets too hot.
Enjoy a picnic lunch and views from the picnic area at Devils Garden trailhead, seven miles north of the Windows. Then explore a bit of the trail: Tunnel and Pine Tree Arches are less than a mile in from the trailhead. If you still have some time, stop on the way back out of the park and take a stroll on the Park Avenue Trail.
There are no dining facilities in the park, so enjoy a refined meal at the Desert Bistro in Moab, five miles south of the park entrance.
Extending Your Stay in Arches National Park
One extra day in Arches will suffice for all but the most serious hikers, who may want to spend an additional 2-3 days here.
Go off-trail with a park ranger through the remote and labrynthine Fiery Furnace section. Offered only in spring and fall, this daily, three-hour guided hike is popular and limited to 25 people, so make a reservation before your visit.
Drive the rough road to Klondike Bluffs and Tower Arch to catch a glimpse of the Marching Men.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Southwest Road Trip.