When you think of the grandeur of Arches National Park, kid-friendly hikes might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But make no mistake, this national park has plenty in store for young trekkers – and everyone else, too.
There’s a reason people flock to Arches National Park, which has the highest concentration of natural arches in the world. This park is understandably crowded in the summer, but mystical and lovely in the winter, too, when there are far fewer people for my kids to annoy as they scream maniacally while running down trails.
Plenty of the famous arches can be viewed from parking lots, but for the real fun you’ll need to hike a bit. No matter the season, start with our favorite hikes for kids in Arches National Park. And if you want to read about wider suggestions for the park, read out guide on what to do and where to stay in Arches National Park.
Delicate Arch — Lower Viewpoint
Okay, here’s the deal on Delicate Arch, that icon of the American West, the arch printed on everything in the gift shop, the reason you booked this trip to Arches in the first place…you should think twice before dragging your kids on the hike up to Delicate Arch.
It’s only 1.5 miles to Delicate Arch, but a steady uphill with 480 feet of elevation gain, so you’ll need at least two or three hours to hike Delicate Arch. The arch spans a smooth sandstone bowl. An elderly couple and their son died there in 2019, and it’s not a place I would take impulsive toddlers. In summer, the hike is brutally hot, and in winter (the last time I intended to hike it) the snowy/icy sandstone incline required shoe grippers , which I did not have.
If those things add up to a whole lot of not for you, make sure to visit the Delicate Arch viewpoints. Having seen both, I don’t think the view is any better at the Upper Viewpoint, but it is a fun little hike up a hill that restless children will appreciate. If everybody is tired and whiny just park and run over to the Lower Viewpoint and get your photos there…a zoom lens would be appreciated here, though.
And if you failed to get the photo you wanted, just stop in the gift shop on your way out of the park and buy a poster. Mission accomplished.
This spectacle can be viewed right from the park road — a gigantic rock teetering on a pinnacle. Kids will get excited imagining a giant carefully placing this ball on a pencil. Like all rock formations, this is slowly being eroded over time and one day the rock will fall, so see it while you can!
This is a great stop with kids. You can see Balanced Rock without hiking at all, but there’s a little path to run toddlers on and a great picnicking spot (and toilet) across the street.
The 0.9-mile trail to Landscape Arch is flat, making it easy for everyone. Your reward is the delicate Landscape Arch, the longest arch in North America. You can’t approach the arch (ever since a bunch of rock fell off of it in 1991), but there are plenty of fun rocks to scramble around and it would make a perfect “stop and snack” spot with the kids.
From here, more difficult trails head off in to Devils Garden, should any of your party feel like more of a challenge.
Pine Tree Arch
This is my favorite hike with kids in Arches National Park. The trail to Landscape Arch splits off to the right, where you can run down the hill toward Pine Tree Arch — aptly named with a pine tree growing underneath. There are lots of arches in the park that can only be viewed from afar, but kids can pose right underneath Pine Tree Arch.
On your way back up the trail, you can also view Tunnel Arch, so if your kids are counting arches (prizes for the most viewed!) they’ll appreciate that.