Just five miles north of Moab proper, Arches is a not a huge national park at 76,000 acres, but it is filled with more than 2,000 amazing natural sandstone arches formed by millions of years of water and wind erosion. Drive through the park on paved roads and stop at various viewpoints to see nifty balanced rocks and amazing arches, soaring towers and striking buttes. The most famous formation, Delicate Arch, can be viewed at the end of a 100-yard trail (great for toddlers who want to stretch their legs) or a half-mile uphill climb (more appropriate for ages six and up); older kids can make the moderate three-mile hike to the base of the famous arch that is pictured on Utah license plates.
The friendly park rangers at the visitor center can recommend other hikes according to your family’s ability level. Rangers lead easy, free, one-hour walks at various points through the park, as well as fee-based tours through the maze of moderately strenuous trails in the Fiery Furnace section. Picnic tables are available opposite Balanced Rock and near the Devil Garden Trailhead. Pick up a Junior Ranger booklet at the visitor center; children ages 6 to 12 can answer questions and complete some activities to earn their Junior Ranger badge and certificate. Have fun spotting wildlife with your children; while bighorn sheep, mule deer and coyotes make their home in the park, you’ll most likely you’ll see plenty of chipmunks, squirrels and lizards scurrying about.
Aside from the restrooms at the visitor center and pit toilets elsewhere in the park, there are no facilities at Arches, so pack your lunch and plenty of water, and gas your car in Moab, before your arrival. The only lodging at Arches is the Devils Garden Campground (see below). Plan to spend at least a half day at Arches National Park to fully appreciate all of its geologic wonders.