How To See Arches and Canyonlands National Park in One Day


You can see Arches and Canyonlands National Park in one day while visiting Moab, Utah. With a bit of planning and a lot of driving, you’ll be able to take in all the top sights these parks have to offer.

When I was in college in Grand Junction, Colorado, I was part of the Outdoor Program. We spent years galavanting in the area, hiking, whitewater rafting, camping, and road-tripping.

I had the opportunity to spend a summer working for the National Park Service doing plant and soil surveys at Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef.

This is to say that you are in good hands. I wrote this guide on how to see Arches and Canyonlands in one day so you will have a great trip.

Best Places To Visit in Arches National Park

  • Arches National Park Scenic Drive
  • Delicate Arch Hike
  • Devils Garden
  • Landscape Arch
  • Sand Dune Arch
  • Garden of Eden
  • Window and Turret Arches + Double Arch
  • Balanced Rock
  • Petrified Sand Dunes
  • Park Avenue Views
  • Arches National Park Visitor Center

Best Things To See in Canyonlands National Park

  • Canyonlands National Park Scenic Drive
  • Grand View Point Overlook
  • Canyonlands View Points
  • Canyonlands Visitor Center

You can easily visit Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in a day. Let’s kick off how to see them both.

You’ll spend most of the day at Arches and then a few hours at Canyonlands.

Things To Do at Arches National Park

Start your day exploring Arches because there is more to do off of the main paved roads unless you plan on hiking in the backcountry.

If you are visiting from April 1 through October 31, be sure to get a timed entry ticket. Ticket entry is from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

From April 1 to October 31, there is a timed-early pilot system before you can enter the park. Plan ahead to organize your time.

Try to avoid visiting during the weekends or a national holiday.

Honestly, avoid going during summer breaks unless you want to wrangle the crowds and the heat in the Moab area.

View of Arches National Park
Panoramic Point views of Arches National Park.

Cruise Along the Arches National Park Scenic Drive

With the way the itinerary is written, you will be doing the scenic drive first, adventuring within the deeper parts of the park.

Most people start seeing the closest natural attractions to the entrance.

Hike To Delicate Arch

We recommend driving straight to the Delicate Arch trailhead if you’d like to hike.

Delicate Arch is the iconic arch you see a lot in magazines and on people’s Instagram accounts. If you can get to the trailhead early, it should be easy to find a parking spot.

Hiking to Delicate Arch will take about 2.5 to 3 hours and is 3 miles round trip.

Arches National Park Delicate Arch Hike
The famous Delicate Arch.

Travel Tip: The park gets extremely busy during the high season, so if you can visit in the off-season, you might have a more pleasant visit and hike overall. Hopefully, the timed entry system will help with the crowds.

After your hike to Delicate Arch, hop back in your car to tour more of the park.

Visit Devils Garden + Landscape Arch

Take the scenic drive toward Devils Garden. Once you arrive at the Devils Garden parking area, get out and walk around.

We highly recommend hiking to the Landscape Arch. From the Devils Garden trailhead to the arch and back is 1.9 miles and takes about an hour.

Arches National Park Moab Utah Landscape Arch
Incredible Landscape Arch.

See the Sand Dune Arch

Next, get back in your car and drive to the Sand Dune Arch for a quick hike. It takes 20 minutes to walk there and back and is roughly a 0.3-mile hike.

Arches National Park Sand Dune Arch
Sand Dune Arch.

Explore the Garden of Eden Arches

Then, hop back in your vehicle and head to the Garden of Eden. Bask in the red rock views and continue down the same road to the Windows and Turrent Arches.

Hike Around the Windows and Turret Arches + Double Arch

Take a 1-mile hike to view the Windows. Hike to the North Window, South Window, and Turret Arch. The walk will take you about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

In the same area, don’t miss the Double Arch.

Arches National Park The Windows
The Windows Arches.

Take a Photo at Balanced Rock

As you can see, we are working our way back toward the Visitor Center. Pull off and snap some photos of the famous Balanced Rock. Then, continue heading back towards the entrance.

Admire the Petrified Sand Dunes

You’ll see the Petrified Sand Dunes on your way out of the park. Depending on your timeline, feel free to drive right by or pull off and take photos.

Take a Photo of Park Avenue

Again, depending on time, stop and view the towering walls of Park Avenue. It won’t take too long to stop, absorb the views, and grab some beautiful photos before heading to the Visitor Center.

Stop in the Visitor Center

Whenever we visit national parks for the first time, we tend to hit the Visitor Centers last. This is because we have already researched what we want to do (unless we need backcountry permits).

So, you can stop here for a pit stop or bathroom break, or skip it and head to Canyonlands National Park.

Things To Do at Canyonlands National Park

Now, you are off to spend the rest of the afternoon in the Canyonlands Island in the Sky District.

Don’t worry if you are tired; you can just do the scenic drive to the lookout points. This itinerary only focuses on a quick tour of Island in the Sky.

Canyonlands National Park is huge and has three districts: Island in the Sky, the Maze, and the Needles.

If you want more information on hiking in the Canyonlands backcountry, you might enjoy our other article about hiking to Druid Arch.

Canyonlands National Park Moab Utah
The Grand View Point.

Cruise Along the Scenic Drive in Canyonlands

Drive the scenic drive through the Island in the Sky District.

It will take you along the high desert mesas. At the end of the road, you’ll be greeted with a spectacular view of the Grand View Point.

The drive is 34 miles round trip and will take at least two hours, but that is all you need.

Admire the Landscape at the Grand View Point Overlook

Enjoy the Grand View Point overlook and desert vistas. Look down into the canyon and see if you can spot the river or the famous White Rim 4×4 road and mountain biking trail.

Canyonlands National Park White Rim Road
The White Rim Overlook.

Enjoy the Viewpoints

If you still have energy (I know you might be getting tired), stop at all the other viewpoints along the way, such as Buck Canyon.

Stop by the Visitor Center

Are you getting your national park passport stamps? If so, be sure to stop at the Canyonlands Visitor Center on the way out.

Tips for Visiting Arches and Canyonlands

  • Have accommodations close to Moab.
  • Buy the America the Beautiful Pass – it is $80 for the year.
  • Try to secure an early morning timed entry ticket into Arches.
  • Spend the entire day touring both parks – arrive at Arches National Park early and plan to stay later in the afternoon at Canyonlands National Park.
  • Bring your food and lots of water – there are limited options inside the parks.

Please Respect the Desert

The desert is near and dear to our hearts. Learn more about how to recreate responsibly while visiting. It is important to Leave No Trace and respect the biological soil crust.

More Tips To Plan Your Trip

How Far Apart Are Arches and Canyonlands?

Driving from Arches National Park to Canyonlands takes about 30 minutes, as long as there isn’t significant traffic or construction.

What Is the Best Time To Visit Arches National Park?

We have spent a lot of time in the Moab area since we lived close by for over ten years.

The off-season is mid to late October through early March. Visiting Arches during this time of the year may help you avoid the crowds. Also, if you visit Arches earlier in the day, that is better.

How Long Does It Take To Visit Arches National Park?

As you can see from this itinerary, you can easily spend more than half the day visiting.

It is easy to spend an entire day or two if you plan to do more of the hikes (link to National Park Service hikes).

But you can also spend half a day to three-quarters of a day and still have a wonderful visit.

How Long Does It Take To Visit Canyonlands National Park?

You could quickly spend two or three hours driving the Island in the Sky Scenic Drive or spend days in the backcountry.

Final Thoughts

If you’re an outdoor lover, Moab is a must-see destination.

With Arches and Canyonlands National Parks right near town, it’s easy to get a taste of the area’s natural beauty in just one day.

Have a wonderful trip.

Ashlee & Pablo

More Utah Travel Guides:

Are you road-tripping through Utah? You might enjoy our other articles to plan your trip:

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Ashlee Fechino

Ashlee Fechino is an outdoor recreation and travel writer sharing the best-kept secrets that aren’t in your typical guidebook. Her goal is to inspire people to travel with a sense of adventure by sharing hidden gems across the U.S. and beyond. She is married to an expat Argentine, Pablo. They camp in their Aliner often and love wandering the world. Follow their latest adventures on Instagram @thehappinessfxn.


  1. Erica on May 30, 2021 at 3:13 pm

    This is such helpful post, thank you! We’ve wanted to visit these two parks on different trips to the area, but we have never been able to squeeze them in to the itinerary. Your photos really highlight our loss and inspire me to make it happen next time. It is SO beautiful and interesting! Just fantastic that you have spent so much time there and were able to highlight what we can see in a day.

    • Ashlee Fechino on June 2, 2021 at 7:02 am

      Hi Erica! Thanks for reading! It is totally doable to see both Arches and Canyonlands in one day! We hope you have a great visit.