The Arches National Park scenic drive is the main highway which traverses this unique Utah park. Of course, the best way to experience Arches is to get out of the car and hike among the giants. However, if you are short on time, you can still see some amazing sights from the road.
Arches is a fairly compact national park. There is one main out and back road that runs through the park. This stretch of highway is approximately 18 miles one way and winds through some spectacular terrain.
Here are 10 highlights visible on the Arches National Park scenic drive:
- The Three Penguins: One of the first treats you’ll see on the Arches National Park scenic drive is a rock formation affectionately referred to as the Three Penguins. They are visible just up the hill from the the visitor center.
- The Moab Fault: The Moab Fault runs along side Highway 191. Above the visitor center on Arches National Park scenic drive, you can view the fault along with an informational sign which describes the fault and earth’s layers.
- Park Avenue: The Park Avenue Trail leads through a canyon flanked by massive stone structures that look somewhat like skyscrapers. However, you don’t have to hike the trail to enjoy them. They are visible from the highway. The parking lot and overlook offer an even better view.
- The Three Gossips: These stone structures look like three tall ladies whispering about the cars as they drive past. They are located on the west side of the highway.
- The Organ & Tower of Babel: These are some of my favorite formations in the park. They are both imposing and breathtaking. It is fun to drive by at different times of the day to see how their appearance changes throughout the day.
- The Petrified Dunes: It would be easy to miss these small mounds located on the east side of the highway with so many massive monoliths nearby. However, these mounds are actually petrified sand dunes and are worth a second look.
- Balanced Rock: It is hard not to notice Balanced Rock which appears to be precariously perched atop a stone pillar. In actuality, the rock isn’t balancing at all – it is attached.
- The Windows: If you turn east onto Windows Loop Road, you’ll loop through a parking area and see the Windows. These arches are connected and look like a huge set of eye glasses.
- The Fiery Furnace: While the only way to truly experience the Fiery Furnace is to hike it, this restricted section of the park is visible on the east side of Arches National Park scenic drive. You can loop through the adjacent parking lot for a better look.
- Skyline Arch: Skyline Arch is near the end of the Arches National Park scenic drive. Located on the east side of the highway, this arch is easily visible from the road.
The Arches National Park scenic drive is a real treat. I hope your itinerary allows you plenty of time to get out of the car and explore. If not, don’t fret! You can still see some awesome sights from the comfort of your car.
Whether you drive this highway once or many times during your trip, there is always something new and interesting to catch the eye!
For more information on Arches National Park, check out:
- Arches Fiery Furnace: Ranger Guided or Self Guided
- Delicate Arch Hike: 6 Things to Know Before You Go
- Turret Arch: Short Hike, Big Payoff
- 5 Reasons to Get Out of Your Car and Hike Balanced Rock
- Arches National Park: Park Avenue Trail