One of Utah’s shining gems, Arches National Park—with its wild expanses and plethora of sandstone arches, towers and fins—draws visitors from around the globe. Plenty of trails lead hikers to icons like the oft-photographed Delicate Arch and a loop through the red-rock wonderland of Devils Garden. But one of the best, yet lesser-known, ways to explore the park is to cycle the 18-mile road that runs through it. Pedaling provides a unique perspective, delivers a big cardio workout and gives you the flexibility to explore whatever trails you want on foot. Note: There’s no dedicated bike lane and the shoulder is narrow in spots so it’s best to start early and avoid weekends and holidays.
1. Getting Started
Park at the main lot and stop in at the Visitor Center learn about the ecology and history of park. Fill your pack bladder and begin pedaling up the imposing hill and its switchbacks. Don’t let this, the steepest part of the entire day, intimidate you. After less than two miles, the road levels and turns slightly downhill as it passes Park Avenue, a narrow wash.
2. La Sal Mountain Overlook
Cruise into a pull-off with views of Courthouse Towers, the Petrified Sand Dunes, and the snow-capped La Sals, the second highest mountain range in Utah. Take it all in and then continue onward past a series of towers including the Three Gossips, Tower of Babel and Courthouse Towers.
3. Balancing Act
Just after passing the Tower of Babel, begin a long (roughly four miles), steady climb that culminates at the photogenic Balanced Rock. After a short hike around the tower, coast steadily dowhill into the heart of a sage-filled valley.
4. Panorama Point
Halfway down the hill, the road levels out. Pause at Panorama Point overlook, which—as its name suggests—rewards visitors with 360-degree vistas that include Devils Garden, the Fiery Furnace, Delicate Arch and the La Sals.
5. Delicate Arch
Nearing the bottom of this fun descent, you’ll pass the turnoff to the park’s most famous arch, featured on Utah license places. We highly recommend returning for this hike around sunset, but set your expectations accurately—hundreds of other selfie-snapping visitors will join you, especially if it’s near full moon.
6. Fiery Furnace Viewpoint
Follow the road as it turns left (northwest) and begins another sustained climb to reach an overlook of the Fiery Furnace, a jumbled maze of slender sandstone canyons lined with fins. Continue climbing steadily from here as the road continues on a northwestern trajectory passing more photo-worthy sights: Box, Sand Dune, Broken and Skyline Arches.
7. Devils Garden Trailhead
After 18 miles of rolling through otherworldly scenery that hides over 2,000 natural arches, you’ve reached the road’s terminus. Enjoy a break and refill water at the campground. Meander down the packed trail for just 0.8 miles to reach the remarkable Landscape Arch. Then hop back on your bike and retrace this spectacular and undulating route back to your car. (Insider Tip: Consider returning to the park the following day in your vehicle to explore the entirety of Devils Garden, fins and all, via a 7.2-mile hiking loop that rambles over sandstone slabs and ledges, passes Double-O Arch and offers a deep immersion into red-rock country.)
8. Windows Turnoff
After the steady climb back to this intersection, turn left and follow the rolling road toward the Windows Area, one of the most fun parts of the park. A short walk here gives you the most bang for your buck if you want to explore around some arches.
9. Discover the Windows
Short, well-defined trails allow you to intimately explore a series of awe-inspiring geologic formations including North and South Windows, Turret Arch and Double Arch Walk. When you’ve taken enough photos for a lifetime, retrace your route to the car.
10. back to the start
Rejoice in your accomplishment back at the visitors’ center and head into Moab to celebrate at McStiff’s.
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