No Timed Entry Ticket for Arches National Park? No problem. One of the best things you can do when visiting Moab Utah is get up early to enjoy a sunrise at Arches National Park. This can get you into the park before the need for a timed entry ticket and allow you to experience the most magic time in the park where the light dances among the red rocks and the smaller crowds make way for the sounds of the whispering wind and life dancing among the shadows. In this article, we break down the best places to see the sunrise in Arches National Park, including hikes of varying distances and easier overlooks!
Why is Sunrise the Best Time to Visit Arches National Park?
Picture this: The alarm goes off, startling you from a restful slumber. It is dark and cold, but today is different. You roll out of bed without the usual hesitation and step outside to admire the clear, star-filled sky as you head to your car. The drive is peaceful, and almost eerie, as you glide past a sleeping world. There are no lines at the entrance station and no stress about having a timed entry reservation.
As you wind your way up the plateau you stare in disbelief at the beauty of this one-of-a-kind desert landscape, illuminated by the bright moon hanging in the sky above. You park and start hiking through the profound silence of a day yet to dawn. As night makes way to day, the sun glimmers with a brightness that fills the air with hope and wonder.
While getting out there early in the morning can be tough, there is something magical about starting your day with a sunrise and some fresh air, especially in a location as majestic as Arches National Park.
About Arches National Park
Arches National Park, located in southeastern Utah, is a captivating desert wonderland renowned for its natural sandstone arches, towering spires, and breathtaking rock formations. Spanning over 76,000 acres, the park showcases a unique and ever-changing landscape sculpted by millions of years of geological processes.
With over 2,000 natural arches, including the iconic Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch, visitors are treated to a mesmerizing display of nature’s artistry. From hiking trails that wind through stunning canyons to scenic drives that reveal panoramic vistas, Arches National Park offers an unforgettable experience where adventure and beauty seamlessly blend into one extraordinary destination.
Location: Arches National Park, Moab Utah
Cost: $30/vehicle for 7-day pass; National Park Passes accepted. No timed entry ticket is needed for entering before 7 am or after 4 pm
Tips for Watching Sunrise in the Park
- Arches National Park requires timed entry reservations to enter the park between the hours of 7 am and 4 pm between April 1 and October 31, 2023
- By entering the gates before 7 am you can avoid the need for a timed entry reservation and make it to this popular spot for a beautiful sunrise. You will still have access to the park all day afterward if you wish.
- We drove through the gates just before 5:30 am and they were manned. Have your National Park Pass ready or be prepared to pay the entrance fee.
- It may be cold before the sun comes up over the horizon, but you will warm up. Layers are a good idea!
- Bring a headlamp or flashlight for navigating in the dark/pre-dawn hours
- Bring lots of water and bring snacks or breakfast to enjoy while watching the sky and surroundings change as darkness is replaced with light
Best Places To See Sunrise in Arches National Park
Witnessing the sunrise at Arches National Park is a truly awe-inspiring experience that immerses you in the ethereal beauty of this natural wonderland.
As the first rays of light paint the sandstone formations in hues of gold and pink, the park comes alive with a magical glow. Standing amidst this breathtaking landscape, you are filled with a sense of wonder and gratitude, knowing that you have been granted a glimpse of nature’s captivating spectacle, a rhythmic dance that keeps everything in sync.
The sunrise at Arches National Park is a moment of pure enchantment, a time when the world feels suspended in beauty and time stands still.
Sunrise at Delicate Arch: Our Top Pick
Delicate Arch, standing proudly against the horizon, seems to come to life as the sun casts its warm embrace. This is our top choice and a personal favorite spot for watching the sunrise in Arches National Park for a couple of reasons.
First, it allows you to experience one of the most popular arches in the park, among much smaller crowds than you can expect during the day or at sunset. Second, we found it to be a one-of-a-kind experience. A moment in time that is difficult to describe and just feels truly special.
- Distance: 3.2 miles out and back
- Elevation Gain: 629 feet
- Estimated Duration: 1.5-2.5 hours
Parking: Park at the Delicate Arch Trailhead (Wolfe Ranch Parking North). This area is typically very busy, but your commitment to come for sunrise means you are rewarded with a spot more easily! The earlier the better.
Directions: Follow Main Park Road from the Visitor Center until you see Delicate Arch Road on the right. Take this road until you see the Wolfe Ranch Parking North on the left.
Trailhead amenities: Pit toilets; no water
When to hike this trail: Spring, Fall, Winter (check conditions), Summer (early will be great due to the heat)
We sped up to Delicate Arch (it took us 30 minutes each way) and also spent 1 hour at the Arch itself. Plan for around 1.5-2.5 hours at least depending on how long you want to stay as the sun rises.
Who will enjoy this hike:
This trail is a great choice if you want to see the most iconic arch in Arches National Park and don’t mind some crowds. Going for the morning for sunrise will limit the number of people you see, but this is still a popular experience. A sunrise hike might help you to get parking and is also great if you do not have a timed entry reservation, as it is not required to enter the park before 7 am or after 4 pm. The earlier the better. Morning larks, this is for you!
It is important to note that the trail is a steep and steady uphill climb and can feel strenuous. Especially first thing in the morning! Be sure to wake your body and mind up a bit first to prevent injuries. If the early start to the day doesn’t deter you, then you will be in for a treat.
This arch, at 46 feet high and 32 feet wide, is captivating. It appears to defy gravity as it stands all on its own with no surrounding support on the far side of an impressive rock amphitheater. Beyond the beauty of the arch itself, there is also just something special about the experience of soaking in the start of a new day as it unfolds in those quiet morning hours.
Hiking to Delicate Arch at sunrise is absolutely worth the early morning wake-up call.
If you don’t have time or the ability to hike the full hike to Delicate Arch, you could also consider the Delicate Arch Viewpoint Trail for an easier and shorter hike (0.7 miles) that still offers a wonderful sunrise at Arches National Park, with more distant views of the world’s most famous arch.
What We Found Fulfilling About Hiking Delicate Arch
Hiking to Delicate Arch at sunrise is a wonderful way to see this iconic staple while encountering much smaller crowds and setting the stage for a special experience. There is something mesmerizing about sitting on rocks in silence among 50 other individuals as the sun peaks over the horizon, illuminating the sky and park in hues of orange, yellow, and pink.
This was a great way to start the day, soaking in the vast beauty of this special park. We even got inspired to hike the La Sal Mountains while looking at them creating a dramatic backdrop beyond the arch.
Hiking at sunrise also removes the planning involved with securing a timed entry reservation. Additionally, we had no problem finding parking in the main parking lot for our Ram 3500 Dually before sunrise, which can often be a point of stress for us as full-time RVers when exploring National Parks.
Tip for photographing Delicate Arch at sunrise: If you are interested in photography, just be aware that once the sun gets up, there will be a frenzy of people taking pictures under the arch. When this happens this can also make the experience start to feel a bit more hectic. Enjoy the quiet moments leading up to the sunrise and get the shots you want without the distractions; capturing the free-standing arch in all of its glory!
Tips for Viewing Delicate Arch
We found that the best way to fully appreciate Delicate Arch was to see it from many different angles. View the arch from the left, middle, and right sides of the rock viewing areas, venture down into the amphitheater, and climb under the arch itself. See how your perspective changes, the backdrop shifts, and the lighting transforms the arch from different angles as the sun reaches new positions in the morning sky.
Sunrise will slowly illuminate Delicate Arch from behind, gracefully spreading out to the rest of the park leading back towards the entrance. The red rocks glow in the morning rays and even though we have now seen lots of sunrises in many different places, sunrise in arches national park at Delicate Arch was one of the best sunrise viewings we have had.
Delicate Arch can be a more strenuous hike for first thing in the morning. If you are looking for something easier, next we dive into other great locations for an Arches National Park sunrise!
Landscape Arch along the Devil’s Garden Trail
Landscape Arch is another renowned feature in the park as it is one of the longest natural arches in the world. At 290 feet long and a shockingly 6 feet wide at its narrowest point, it is truly a spectacle. And having experienced a break earlier in its history, there is no saying how long it may stay preserved in its current state.
Staring up at its fragile beauty and reflecting on the power of nature’s forces, Landscape Arch will surely leave you in awe. While you can’t get directly up to the arch, the viewpoint would be a beautiful place to enjoy a sunrise and a great starting point if you wanted to hike further into Devil’s Garden and see more arches as the day goes on, ahead of the crowds. We also found Devil’s Garden to be a perfect sunset hiking area as well!
Starting your day early here would also help you land a prized spot in the Devil’s Garden parking lot, which is known to fill up quickly!
Landscape Arch Trail (within Devil’s Garden)
- Distance: 1.9 miles out and back
- Elevation Gain: 252 feet
- Estimated Duration: 45 mins – 1 hour roundtrip
A short hike to a truly unique arch, Double Arch is a great option if you are looking for a shorter trail that is quick and easy to get to. You can even get up under the arch, which would be a great place to observe the night sky as it transitions to day if you are able to get there extra early.
Snagging a spot at the Double Arch or Windows Trailhead parking area would also secure your spot if you wanted to use it as a launching point for some other large arches in the area, such as Turret (listed below), North Window, and South Window.
- Distance: 0.6 miles out and back
- Elevation Gain: 95 feet
- Estimated Duration: 15 minutes
Another easy hike just up the hill from Double Arch, Turret Arch is one arch along an easy loop trail that is also home to North Window and South Window. This would be a magical place to wander through and see how the different arches sparkle with each passing moment of sunrise.
- Distance: 1.2 mile loop
- Elevation Gain: 154 feet
- Estimated Duration: 30 mins
Double O Arch
If you are up for a bolder adventure, consider hiking further out into the heart of Devil’s Garden. Watching the sunrise at Double O Arch, would be a perfect spot to see the sunrise through a unique set of arches, while also being really close to some of the best vantage points to see out into the distant landscape across Arches National Park and beyond (such as out beyond Dark Angel or when looking over Black Cave Arch).
- Distance: 4.1 mile out and back
- Elevation Gain: 672 feet
- Estimated Duration: 2 hours
La Sal Mountains Viewpoint
The La Sal Mountains Viewpoint is a great option if you are not looking for a sunrise hike and want to enjoy a sunrise from a beautiful overlook that is convenient to the entrance of Arches National Park. Just under 10 minutes from the entrance station, this overlook is a great place to watch as the park becomes illuminated in the first rays of sun for the day! Here you can also enjoy sweeping views of the rock formations that exist beyond the park, including the La Sal Mountains, which are a standout feature in the Moab skyline.
Dead Horse Point State Park
Only 35 minutes from Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park is another great place for sunrise in the Moab area. There are several viewpoints along the Rim Trail (that you can either hike or drive to) that offer sweeping canyon views and panoramic vistas of the La Sal Mountains.
Keep in mind sunrise times will vary throughout the year. The best spots will be the ones you can get to on time – so plan your journey based on what is realistic for you!
See More of Utah’s Epic Sunrise Spots
If you have time for an epic road trip, consider visiting all of the “Mighty 5” Utah National Parks. Then you can catch sunrises at Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park (The Needles or Syncline Loop) would be amazing spots), Capitol Reef National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Zion National Park (don’t miss The Narrows during your visit!).
Visiting all of the Utah National Parks was high on our bucket list when we started full-time RVing and it certainly did not disappoint. Utah is a beautiful contradiction of unique rocky landscapes that transport you to another world.
Fulfilling Travel Tips
Be Present. Be Where Your Feet Are.
If you have been up with the sun before, you know how magic that golden hour can be. It is quiet, yet lively, calm yet filled with power. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and taking a few moments to watch birds glide through the washes and see the glistening green terrain contrasting the orange fins in the distance can be a great addition to any pristine sunrise adventure in the park. Be sure to look beyond the arches!
Take a slow, quiet moment to take it all in. Congratulate yourself or express some gratitude for starting the morning with such beauty alongside the break of a new day of possibilities.
With fewer distractions and such special views, we can think of a better use of precious time than adding a sunrise to your Arches National Park itinerary!
- Sunrise at Delicate Arch
- Check out some shorter trails with more beautiful large arches in the early morning light (like Double Arch, Turret Arch, South Window, and North Window)
- Spend some time enjoying some of the overlooks and observation points in the park (such as Panorama Point, Balanced Rock, Wolfe Ranch, Delicate Arch Viewpoint, and La Sal Mountains Viewpoint)
- Head into Moab for a bite to eat
- If it’s a warm day, consider cooling off at Ken’s Lake, Faux Falls, or Cowboy Jacuzzis
- If you have time, try to get a permit for Fiery Furnace for another day, and be sure to leave time to check out Devil’s Garden
If you are ready to start your day off with an experience that will boost your mood and leave you feeling grateful, there is no better way than to start your day with a sunrise at Arches National Park. Our top pick for the best place to see the sunrise in the park is Delicate Arch. It is one of those iconic, can’t miss sights, and sunrise will offer smaller crowds and stunning views. You will not see any other free-standing arches in the park!
In addition, getting into the park in those early morning hours will leave you with no need for a timed entry ticket.
We recommend slowing down and spending time looking around and seeing how your perspective changes as the sun slowly rises. Watch as the sun illuminates different parts of the park, and gaze out at the beautiful La Sal Mountains. Peer down at the washes or out at the vastness of the American southwest, expressing some gratitude for what you have seen or to yourself for what you have done, or just spend a few moments listening to the sounds of the Earth as it wakes. Sunrise in Arches National Parl is an immersive experience that offers so much more than the beauty of a new day. You won’t be sorry you did it!
PLAN YOUR TRIP TO ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
Reserve Your Arches National Park Timed Entry Ticket:
Reserve Your Permit:
Reservations for self-guided Fiery Furnace hikes can be made 1 week in advance at 8 am MT at Reservation.gov
Steps for Improving your chance at securing a spot:
Step 1: Bring up the website and click on the Self-Guided option 5-10 minutes before 8 am
Step 2: Have a universal clock ready to ensure your time is accurate
Step 3: At around 7:59:55 am (Mountain Time) refresh your browser
Step 4: Select the date that has just been released. This date will be 1 week out. Confirm the number of permits you need for your group (6 person max per group).
Arches National Park Campgrounds:
Moab Area Accommodations:
Moab is full of great campsites, ranging from RV resorts to no-frills campgrounds, and free boondocking.
If you are looking for the perfect one-stop shop for comparing RV parks and glamping options and prices with instant booking, we highly recommend Campspot.
Here are some highly-rated campgrounds in Moab:
- Sun Outdoors Moab Downtown (RV Resort with amenities)
- St. Dane’s Cabins & Campground (no frills full hook-ups on a budget)
- Ken’s Lake Campground (paid BLM campground with dry camping)
- Horsethief BLM Campground
RV Rentals: If you are looking to get closer to nature but don’t have an RV, consider renting one through RV Share. We used this service when renting out our Casita and found them to be high quality and easy to use!
Another great option is glamping or nature-centric stays. Here are some great options near Arches National Park:
You can explore all Moab area accommodations and compare prices on Booking.com, which is a great resource for unique stays at the best rates.
Moab is also a great spot for adrenaline junkies and adventure seekers. Check out some awesome guided tours while in the area as well!
Looking for other resources to help you plan your most fulfilling trip to Moab & Arches National Park?
Please protect these areas - for the wildlife, the environment, and for the enjoyment of future generations. Practice Leave No Trace