The Best Camping Near Arches National Park, Utah

The Best Camping Near Arches National Park, Utah

Explore many of Utah’s can’t-miss sights like Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch, and Balanced Rock from campgrounds near Arches National Park. Pack the hiking boots, plenty of water, and your best camera as you set out among some of the world’s most striking geological features.

Arches National Park, Utah
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About Camping Near Arches National Park

Camping near Arches National Park means incredible views at every turn, as red rock formations spring up from the ground and desert colors put on a show at sunrise and sunset. Go canyoneering in the Fiery Furnace or Lost Spring Canyon, hike to Devils Garden, or take a 4×4 tour to see various points of interest in one day. Enjoy the stargazing from campgrounds near Arches National Park and kick back on a scenic drive of the park—these views never get old!

Top Campgrounds Near Arches National Park, Utah

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Arches National Park Camping FAQs

Arches has an outsized amount of visitation for its total area. At just 120 square miles, it still sees a higher visitation than most of this country’s national parks, coming in 20th overall with about 1.5 million annual visitors. That means you’ll see plenty of congestion in peak season, but there are certainly worse places to wait in a line of cars than the Utah desert.

What Is Arches National Park Known For?

As the name suggests, arches (and, of course, other rock formations) are what separate this park from the rest. The rock formations throughout the park just look otherworldly, and you can easily spend a whole day just looking at them. Really, this park is perfect for just sitting and taking it all in, with its rock formations and incredible desert views.

Those wanting to be active have no shortage of opportunities. Many of the park’s hikes are short and manageable, but there are some challenging ones as well. Beyond your two legs, off-roading is the thing to do here, with climbing another popular activity. Do familiarize yourself with all regulations beforehand, though. For example, 4x4s are allowed, but off-highway vehicles (OHVs) are not. ATVs and all similar OHVs can’t be brought into the park.

Arches National Park is also an International Dark Sky Park, so light pollution is at a minimum, and the views here are unbelievable after the sun sets. Even if you can’t camp in the park, the surrounding area offers a really good look at the unpolluted night sky.

Top Sights to See in Arches National Park

Balanced Rock

Well over 100 feet tall, this is one of the best-known features of Arches National Park. While it isn’t technically balancing, as it’s sitting on a pedestal that’s hard to see, it certainly looks like a giant magic trick. You can see it from the road or do a short hike to get a closer look.

Arches Scenic Drive

At just over 22 miles each way, this out-and-back drive takes at least four hours in each direction. It is, of course, worth every minute of your time. Take the drive slowly and pull over often for pictures, as this is one of the best scenic drives in the NPS system. If you want to just do a one-way drive, make this your last stop. Head to the starting point inside the park and make your way towards the exit.

Delicate Arch

This is another one you’ve probably seen pictures of, even if you didn’t realize it. It’s everywhere. In fact, it’s one of the state’s most defining features. This one, unlike Balanced Rock, requires leaving the car to get the best view. There’s a half-mile trail, Upper Viewpoint, that provides the best look at it.

The Best Time to Visit Arches National Park

Arches National Park is busy for most of the year. From roughly March to October, the park has an influx of visitors, with the summer months being the most popular. For travelers with some flexibility, this is a good thing. The non-summer months of peak season will still see plenty of visitors, but at least somewhat lessened. Plus, the summer months see highs in the upper 90s, making it less than optimal to visit during that time anyway.

If you can travel outside of the peak summer, your best bet is roughly March to May or September to October. These times tend to see lower temperatures to begin with and relatively fewer visitors. Spring weather tends to hover in the 60s and 70s during the day, dropping to the 30s and 40s overnight. October sees a pretty similar pattern, with late September being a bit warmer.

While you can winter camp in Arches National Park, the temperatures tend to drop lower than you may expect. An average overnight low in January hovers around 18 degrees, so while the campground probably has some open spots, you may not want to grab one. Day trips to Arches in the winter can be more appealing since daytime temperatures, even in winter, are in the 40s.

Tips for Camping Near Arches National Park

There’s Only One Campground

Devils Garden Campground is the only campground in the park. The campground has just 51 spots, and everyone, both RVs and tent campers, is competing for those 51 spots. You can reserve a site here up to six months in advance, and that’s likely exactly what it’ll take to get a spot here. The campground is first-come, first-served from the beginning of November to the end of February if you’re willing to brave the chilly overnight temperatures.

Backpackers Have Trouble in Arches

If you’re looking forward to backpacking in Arches National Park, it’s certainly not impossible. However, routes here aren’t the best-marked and can require some route-finding and off-trail hiking to get to your destination. Is it impossible? Again, definitely not. However, for novice backpackers, it may prove quite tricky.

You’re Surrounded by BLM Land

Enjoy the perks of being in a state where the majority of the land is managed federally. You’ll have a wide array of BLM land around you if you’re free camping. Of course, free camping is about as primitive as it gets, so it’s not for everybody. If you’re good with being in the desert and completely self-sufficient, you’ll have no shortage of land to choose from when setting up camp.

Tips on Entering Arches National Park

Prepare for a Wait

Arches National Park is wildly popular compared to its size. There’s really only one entrance (more on that in a bit), and the park gets congested quickly. To combat this, the park puts in temporary entrance delays. Once Arches National Park hits capacity, no one is let in until the crowding dies down. Make sure to have a backup plan in place in case this happens while you’re trying to enter.

Your best bet is to get there as early as possible before the park gets crowded, but that’s likely gonna mean an early call time. If you get hit with a temporary delay, just know that vehicles aren’t allowed to park by the entrance sign or along the road while waiting.

There’s Really Only One Entrance

Technically, there are backroads that lead you into the park. If you want to go that route, it may save you some time. That’s a real maybe scenario, though, that depends on road conditions and entrance lines. Consider the backroads more of a separate choice on how you want to enter the park, moreso than a time-saving one.

Arches Is Implementing Timed Entry Permits

To combat crowding, Arches National Park is rolling out timed entry permits. Make sure you have one in advance (plan beforehand as service is spotty) so you can make it into the park easily.

How to Camp in Arches National Park

Your only options for camping in Arches National Park are to backpack or be really lucky. With just 51 campsites to go around, it’s certainly not easy to do. If you can manage to snag a spot in the park, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts. Pitching your tent in Arches National Park is both a badge of honor and an exciting experience. If you can’t get a site (it happens to the best of us), there are several incredible Campspot campgrounds nearby.

Best Campspot Campgrounds Near Arches National Park for Tent Campers

Sun Outdoors Moab Downtown

When you think of the best places to tent camp, downtown isn’t exactly what leaps to mind. Unless, of course, that downtown happens to be in Moab, Utah. In that case, it’s the second-best tent campground in the country, according to the 2023 Campspot Awards. Seriously! The tent sites here come in several varieties based on your desired comfort level and are the perfect place to spend the night after a day spent in Arches National Park or Moab itself.

Whether you’re in a tent or otherwise, Sun Outdoors Moab Downtown is one of the most complete campgrounds in the country. Amenities here for tent campers, RVers, and lodging are all top-notch. The location can’t be beat either, as it’s just as easy to see the local brewery as it is to enjoy some of the country’s best outdoor spots. Of course, all this comes with the added bonus of a pool, playground, and even an on-site gas station and general store.

Sun Outdoors North Moab

What’s better than one award-winning tent campground? Two award-winning tent campgrounds, of course! Coming in right behind Sun Outdoors Moab Downtown is Sun Outdoors North Moab, which took third place in the category Best Tent Campgrounds at the 2023 Campspot Awards. If you just can’t wrap your head around the idea of camping in a city, even if it’s Moab, this location is going to be more your speed.

This Sun Outdoors location gives you similarly great proximity to downtown Moab, but you can bed down for the night just far enough out of the city to feel a little more integrated with nature. Amenities here are on par with the Downtown Moab location (minus the on-site gas station), so expect a hot tub, dog park, and general store to make your stay that much more enjoyable.

Best Campspot Campgrounds Near Arches National Park for RV Campers

Sun Outdoors Canyonlands Gateway

Sensing a pattern yet? Sun Outdoors has a bunch of fantastic locations out this way, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. This one is the most secluded so far, with beautiful views of vistas and red rocks being the main features of this Western retreat. This location has a stay for everyone, but RV campers will especially enjoy the spacious, extra-large pull-through sites and their full hookups. Of course, smaller rigs will have no trouble with the standard sites as well.

Everything about this place feels like you stepped back in time, as this campground really leans into the Old West motif. Sun Outdoors Canyonlands Gateway is equal parts outdoor getaway and themed stay.

Best Campspot Campgrounds Near Arches National Park for Lodging

Sun Outdoors Arches Gateway

Another Sun Outdoors location, another award. Sun Outdoors Arches Gateway took home fifth place in the category Best Campgrounds for Spontaneous Campers at the 2023 Campspot Awards. This location was one of the most popular mobile booking locations, and for good reason. It’s a Herculean task to get a campground at Arches National Park, so campers striking out want to find other options.

Lodging choices here are plentiful, though the Airstream rental is easily the coolest option of them all. If you need more space, consider renting one of the cabins or cottages, with the Premium Cottage offering the highest level of comfort. This is an ideal Arches National Park basecamp, partially for proximity and partially for the fact that you can rent a bike on-site and explore the area on two wheels!

Portal RV Resort and Campground

Portal RV Resort and Campground is aptly named. It feels like you stepped into the future when you get on-site. All the designs are modern and aesthetically futuristic.

Depending on your needs, your main lodging options are Luxury Casitas and Luxury Vacation Homes, with the latter being the larger option. Whichever you choose, you’re assured of the highest level of luxury you’ll find anywhere near the park. All your basic needs, of course, are also taken care of, as the campground offers laundry facilities, showers, and a dump station for RV travelers. While a pool isn’t per se a necessity, they’ve got that too for you.

Utah is a competitive state when it comes to national parks. Travelers come from around the world to see the natural wonders here, so expect crowds, take your time, and enjoy this fascinatingly unique spot.

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