Your Ultimate Guide to Camping Near Arches National Park

Utah views

Arches National Park in Utah is an awe-inspiring destination with the world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches among countless curiously sculpted red-rock formations. You could spend your time there doing little more than gazing across the landscape, and the memories would still be unforgettable. Note that we said could, not should. You’ll definitely have more fun admiring the landscape while pursuing adventures in the park and its vicinity. And you’ll have even more fun if you go camping near Moab and Arches, whether tent camping, RVing, or glamping. 

Plan Ahead for the Best Camping in Arches National Park

One of the best things about camping is that you can often figure things out as you go and keep your itinerary flexible. However, for a camping trip to Arches National Park, it’s important to do some advanced planning, especially if you want to visit during the high season of April through October. 

The destination is very popular, and a limited number of campsites are available within a reasonable distance of the park. This is especially true if you have strong preferences for a particular style, for example, RV camping with full hookups or glamping near Arches National Park. The region is also quite remote, so if you arrive during the high season without a reservation or much of a plan, you might find yourself a very long drive from the closest available options. 

Further, Arches National Park launched a timed-entry pilot program in 2022, meaning reservations are required to enter the park from April 3 to October 3. If you have an in-park campsite reservation, backcountry permit, or spot booked on the Fiery Furnace tour, park entrance is included. The program will likely be in place beyond 2022, so check the park website for up-to-date instructions.

Put your sensible side in charge of booking a campsite and time-entry reservation (if needed) well ahead of time. Then you can let your wild and spontaneous self rule each day’s adventures.

Where to Camp Near Arches National Park

There is one place to camp inside Arches National Park: a mid-sized, rustic campground with 51 sites for tents and RVs. It has pit and flush toilets, picnic tables, grills, and drinking water, but no showers, no camp store, no internet, and limited cell phone reception. This campground is reservable during the high season and gets fully booked well in advance, so plan ahead if you want to camp inside the national park. Also, consider one of the two campgrounds with tent and RV spots as well as yurt rentals at Dead Horse Point State Park, 30 miles from Arches.

You have plenty more campground options and much more variety across tent camping, RV camping, and glamping categories, outside Arches National Park. Many campgrounds offer tent, RV, and glamping options in one location; others specialize in just one camping style. Start your search for commercial campgrounds in the city of Moab, just 5 miles from Arches and a popular vacation destination in its own right. Some of the best camping near Arches National Park is within walking distance of Moab’s shops, restaurants, breweries, art galleries, and tour companies. More campgrounds are in the outskirts of Moab, between the city and the La Sal Mountains to the southeast, on mesas with wide-open views, and along the Colorado River.

Camping near Moab and Arches is also available on public lands, including BLM-managed lands, and in Manti-La Sal National Forest. These are rustic options for tent camping and off-the-grid RV camping near Arches National Park, so they require high self-sufficiency. They do not fall into even the loosest definitions of glamping. Intrepid campers should know that within 20 miles of Moab, local laws permit primitive camping only in developed campgrounds. 

Tent Camping Near Arches National Park

Tent campers have the greatest number of campsite options near Arches National Park. They range from bare-bones sites with few amenities, neighbors, and a peaceful vibe to big resort-style properties geared toward families. It’s important to browse many different campgrounds, look at their photo galleries and read reviews to ensure their vibe matches your idea of the best camping near Arches National Park.

Something almost all campgrounds near Arches have in common is amazing views of the red-rock landscape. If scenic surroundings are important to you – and who wouldn’t want to unzip their tent and see some of the most spectacular views in the west? – then focus on finding campsites with uninterrupted views. Choose hike-in sites, tent-only campgrounds, and layouts with the parking lot set away from the campsites for the most peaceful experience. These places tend to be further away from Moab’s (albeit limited) city lights and will also come with amazing night skies. 

Consider amenities provided to tent campers at the various campgrounds near Arches National Park. Perhaps you want access to a camp store for s’mores supplies or must-have quality coffee nearby. Would you just love to swim or soak in a hot tub at the end of the day? Are hot showers and laundry facilities essential? All these amenities are available, but not at every campground, so choose wisely. 

What to Bring

The high desert landscape of Southeast Utah presents a few challenges to tent campers that can be tackled with appropriate gear. The unshaded, hard-dirt ground is typical, so bring extra padding and consider investing in an extra-plush or inflatable pad. A shade canopy can help keep your campsite cooler, and camp chairs with attached shades are also a good choice. 

Some rustic campgrounds near Arches National Park do not have drinking water available, so be sure to bring plenty. Bring more water than you think you need due to the arid environment. 

Gathering firewood is generally not allowed at campsites near Arches, so bring your own or stock up in Moab. It’s important to check fire restrictions before setting up a campfire; they’re frequently banned across the region. Bring alternative options for cooking, such as a propane stove. 

Glamping Near Arches National Park

Arches National Park glamping experiences are available but fairly limited. Allow extra time for planning if you have strong preferences for glamping accommodation types, amenities, or location. Cabins, yurts, and furnished tents are among the options for glamping in Arches National Park. Cabins, including some with indoor bathrooms, are the most readily available option. Yurts tend to be the most spacious and luxurious choice. For example, the yurt rentals in Dead Horse Point State Park have bunk beds and futons, heating and air conditioning, electrical outlets, and a propane grill on their private patios. 

Those who want some photogenic boho style or eco-friendly credentials with their glamping experience will find a few yurt campgrounds near Moab and Arches to suit those desires. Think private hammocks, macrame plant hangers and wicker furnishings, solar fixtures, and glam fire pits. On the other side of the glamping spectrum are cabin rentals at action-packed family resort-style campgrounds. These come with access to playgrounds, pools, modern bathroom and shower blocks, laundry facilities, etc. Inside your climate-controlled cabin, you might have a mini-fridge and microwave.

What to Bring

The packing list for a glamping trip near Arches National Park will depend considerably on the campground you book. Cabins and yurts offer a lot more indoor space than regular tents, so you don’t have to pack light if that’s not your thing. You might bring a full suitcase, all your electronic devices, and enough food and drinks to stock a full kitchen, should your glamping space allow it. Even if you don’t have a fridge, you will probably have enough room to keep a large cooler inside. 

You’ll want screen-free entertainment like board games, packs of cards and books for off-the-grid glamping with a focus on disconnecting from modern annoyances. If some electronics are essential to you, bring a solar charger, mobile hotspot, or other appropriate devices. 

Full Hookup RV Camping Near Arches 

You have plenty of options for RV campgrounds near Arches National Park, but not all of them offer full hookups. The campground inside the national park doesn’t have any hookups, nor do campgrounds on public lands. Dead Horse Point State Park does have electrical hookups at some of its campsites, as well as a dump station, but no water fill-up service. 

For Arches National Park RV camping with full hookups and a broader range of amenities, look to one of the many commercial campgrounds in the area. They range from small mom ‘n’ pop establishments with all the essentials but nothing fancy to corporate-run chain resorts that focus on the full-time RV lifestyle. Altogether, RV campgrounds near Arches present a comprehensive range of amenities along with different types of sites to suit all needs. They include big-rig sites, pull-through and back-in sites, full or partial hookups, dump stations, water fill-up stations, and “basic” to “premium” packages. However, these aren’t all available at every individual resort, so do plenty of research to find a site that fits your needs, especially if you’re fussy.

What to Bring

If you’re staying at a full hookup RV campground near Arches National Park, the chances are you already have everything you could possibly need already in your RV. A few things to consider that are specific to RV camping near Arches include preparing for potential high heat or chilly nights. In summer, make sure your RV’s air conditioner is in tip-top shape, or bring a few fans if you don’t want to run it all the time. Extra blankets are a good idea in winter. 

Be aware of limited resources in more remote camping areas further out from Moab. Fill up with gas, fill your other tanks, and stock up on supplies either in Moab or before you drive to the region. Also, know that cell phone and internet service can be spotty around Arches, so download maps and directions while you can. 

Things to Do While Camping at Arches National Park

Most of the activities available in Arches National Park focus on admiring its unique landscape – you can’t help but do so any time you step outdoors. Unlike making sure you have a campsite, you don’t have to do a huge amount of advanced preparation to enjoy the best activities in Arches. 

In the high season, however, planning ahead can help you avoid the crowds and get the best views. You should also ignore that whole spontaneous approach if you want to book a tour, shuttle service, or other guided activity through a local outfitter

Hiking

The best camping trip in Arches National Park almost certainly includes some hiking. The most impressive viewpoints and those namesake arches are generally far enough off the main park road to require a hike. It might be a short jaunt on a paved trail or a half-day adventure to a remote rock formation. Most hikes in Arches are somewhere in the middle, so there are options to suit everyone. 

You must stay on marked trails, rocks, and sandy washes to protect the delicate environment, so choose a hiking trail from the park website or stop at the visitor center and chat with a ranger. Bring plenty of water and sun protection, and choose sturdy footwear. Hiking poles can be handy. 

Easy trails that showcase amazing arches include Broken Arch Trail, just 1.2 miles round-trip, and Delicate Arch Viewpoint Trails which reveal the park’s most famous arch. The Windows Viewpoint and Trail is a hard-packed trail ending with stone steps, with an optional longer route back to the parking lot. If you want a challenging, rewarding hike, consider the Delicate Arch Trail, a 3-mile round trip featuring 200 yards of narrow rock ledge (sound good?).

Biking

You are welcome to ride a bike or e-bike on all paved and unpaved roads in Arches National Park, but not on trails or anywhere off the road. Mountain bikers tend to prefer the obstacle-dotted terrain of the Salt Valley and Willow Springs dirt roads, which are largely free of vehicles.

Moab is a world-class mountain biking destination with excellent trails of varying difficulty levels. The protected environment of the national park makes it less ideal for biking adventures. If you love mountain biking and are camping near Moab and Arches, look into the extensive mountain bike trail systems in the surrounding region.

Photography

It’s safe to predict that you’ll never keep your phone in your pocket or your lens cap in place for long when you’re camping near Arches National Park. The landscapes inspire world-class photographers and social media sharers alike. They’re spectacular enough for many visitors to dedicate entire trips to photography. Guided photography tours are available through local providers if you’re really serious about your shots. 

Some popular spots for photography include Sheep Rock, Double Arch, Delicate Arch, Balanced Rock, and Double O Arch, but the entire park is gorgeously photogenic. Early mornings and late afternoons promise premium lighting and smaller crowds. If you want to work on your night sky photography skills, there are few better places to do it than Arches.  

Horseback Riding

There couldn’t be a more timeless setting for horseback adventures than the red-tinted high desert of Utah. You might have never given a second thought to horseback riding or even been near a horse in your life, but there’s something about the landscape that will make you feel like you really need to saddle up and ride off into the dusky sunset. 

OK, most horseback riding trips in Arches National Park are arranged ahead of time by people who know what they’re doing around pack animals. If that’s you, know that you may ride horses in the park, but only in a handful of designated areas. If that’s not you, look into guided horseback tours around Moab. 

Rock Climbing

Rock climbing adventures in Arches National Park are available and sure to be unforgettable. However, they are most suited to experienced climbers and require advanced techniques. Guided services are prohibited, so you need to know what you’re doing, have appropriate equipment, and understand the rules for rock climbing in the park. All climbers are asked to register by obtaining a free permit, which can be done on the same day as their climb. 

Ready to Go Camping Near Arches National Park?

Camping near Arches National Park is amazing, with truly unrivaled landscapes, plenty of activities available, and inviting camping conditions year-round. All these factors make it popular – no, you’re not the only person currently planning a camping trip in Arches! So, book your campsites early, but only after shopping around for the best site to suit your personal tent camping, RV camping, or glamping style. Once you have that reservation in hand, all the other details of your cool camping adventure in Arches will easily fall into place.

FAQ Section 

Can you camp in Arches national park?

You can camp in Arches National Park, but availability is extremely limited. There is only one developed campground inside the national park, with 51 tent and RV spaces that are reservable – and quickly become fully booked – from March 1 to October 31. You can also camp in designated backcountry campsites with a backcountry permit

Fortunately, options for camping near Arches National Park are plentiful, both on public lands and in commercial campgrounds. Tent camping, full hookup RV camping, and glamping experiences are all available within easy reach of the national park.

Can you drive an RV through Arches National Park?

Yes! The 36-mile Scenic Drive in Arches National Park is suitable for RVs of all sizes, and there are oversized parking spaces available in some parking lots. However, these parking spaces are very limited in number, so try to arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon for your best chance at getting a spot. The Scenic Drive will give you an excellent overview of the national park’s remarkable landscape and is a popular way to see the park. It’s an out-and-back route, so you’ll leave the national park through the same entrance where you drove in.

Due to parking limitations, you might prefer to leave your RV at the campsite and arrange alternative transportation into the park. Shuttles are available from Moab, as are guided tours. 

How long does it take to see Arches National Park?

If you only do the Scenic Drive, your visit to Arches National Park will take a few hours. Add another few hours if you intend to park and hike one or two of the shorter trails. A full day allows plenty of time to hike multiple short trails or a longer one and possibly fit in other activities. 

Many visitors like to combine visits to Arches and nearby Canyonlands National Park. Both are easily reached from Moab-area campgrounds. 

Are dogs allowed in Arches National Park?

Dogs are allowed in Arches National Park but must be on a leash 6 feet or less, and can only be in parking areas, campgrounds, picnic areas, and along established roads. Dogs are not allowed on hiking trails or in any off-trail areas, at overlooks, visitors centers, or other park buildings, even in a carrier. 

What is the best time of year to visit Arches National Park?

Arches National Park is open year-round, but the region’s climate makes it more appealing to most campers at certain times of the year. The best time to visit depends on your preferences for weather and crowds. April through May and mid-September through October offer the mildest temperatures, ranging from 60 to 80 degrees F in the daytime and 30 to 50 F at night. These pleasant conditions make the park extra popular in spring and fall. 

Summer is very hot, with temperatures often exceeding 100 F. Thunderstorms are common in later summer. Visitation remains high throughout the season. Winter temperatures are cold, ranging from 0 to 20 F at night and 30 to 50 in the day, with occasional snow and ice. Expect much smaller crowds during a wintertime visit to Arches National Park.

Share

Related Posts