by Jake Wilhelmsen
The Colorado River, world-renowned mountain biking and License Plate Arch. A trip to the Arches National Park area would last a month if you explored all the geographical/geological oddities, but we made a list you can check off in a long, memorable weekend.
Here are our top 5 outdoor adventures in and around Arches, with quick access from nearby Moab.
5. Raft the Colorado at Fisher Towers
This trip down a lovely little stretch of the Colorado River puts in east of Arches and takes out right on the southeast of the park. It’s calm enough to accommodate kiddos but a couple sets of rapids will keep it exciting, with water fights spicing up the flat sections. Most people do it in half a day but it can be stretched into an overnighter.
4. Hike to Delicate Arch
It looks organic but unnatural, like an alien in a movie. It’s too big, leans at odd angles and it’s unlike any of the other 2,000 arches in the park. The 3-mile hike (round trip) will be the most beautiful part of your day until Delicate Arch steps out from behind the mountain at the top. (Or you can grab a sneak peek five minutes earlier through a window in the ridge.) If you haven’t seen it, believe the hype.
3. Mountain Bike Slickrock
Everyone remembers their first time on Slickrock. The (ironically named) super-grippy sandstone trail makes for a hundred mini-adventures in technical riding. It will never not be fun -- if you’re a novice, it’ll be the most intense ride you’ve done; if you’re an expert, try to pound through it in 90 minutes.
2. Fiery Furnace
For professional wanderers. This garden of fins, buttes and canyons makes a human-sized rat maze that will get you hilariously lost. Or maybe just sign up (in advance!) for a ranger-led tour.
1. Devil’s Garden
An easy walk to Landscape Arch, which will probably crumble if you raise your voice, gets challenging if you continue on the primitive loop to Double-O Arch. This is the longest maintained trail in the park with the largest concentration of natural arches in the world. The. Whole. World.