Summer is knocking on the door and beckoning you and your kids to unplug themselves for a weekend and get outside! And there are SO many places to go see this summer with your kids that it may be a bit daunting as you plan your vacation...
Well, we want our Play Unplugged families to enjoy some of the best hikes for kids that Utah has to offer. So here are the Top Four Kid-Friendly Hikes in Arches National Park:
- Hike #1 Park Avenue. This trail is not only perfect for young kids, but it is a great excuse to get out and stretch your legs after a long drive when you arrive at Arches National Park. Just 2.5 miles from the visitors center, along the main road into the park, there is a pull out on the north side of the road clearly marked 'Park Avenue Viewpoint.'
Here families can either park their car and do an 'out-and-back' hike, or they can just go one way (one mile total) and descend to another parking area where one of the parents can wait at the Courthouse Towers Viewpoint and pick them up at the end of their walk. Depending on where you start, descends (or ascends during the return hike if you don't have someone to pick you up at the end!) about 320 feet spread across that half mile distance.
- Hike #2: Sand Dune Arch, Broken Arch and the lesser seen Tapestry Arch. These are very easy hikes and allows for maximum payoff for little energy invested! These all begin in the Sand Dune Arch parking area and head off to the east. Sand Dune arch is a mere .5 miles away and even the youngest of kids can easily walk there.
Once you've had your fill of fun in the sand there, head off towards Broken Arch along a well-worn gravel path and .5 mile later, the trail will literally pass through and underneath this cool arch!
Take a rest and admire this arch which has a crack up at the apex. If you decide to return to your car, it makes a perfect one mile walk/hike. (And for all you parents using Play Unplugged Home version, this is perfect to hand out The Mile Master Brag Badge!)
But if you're still looking for adventure, families can continue on the trail through the arch and follow it as it winds its way north where you can see Tapestry Arch off to the east. There is a cut-off spur leading east to the arch and the other path leads towards the campground to your north, which is perfect for those lucky enough to camp there as well.
- Hike #3: Tower Arch. For those looking to get away from the crowds, there is the quiet area west of Devil's Garden and leads to this spectacular and immense arch. This 3.4 mile round trip hike lets you enjoy more solitude than other areas in Arches National Park.
To get to the trailhead, just head for the Devil's Garden trailhead or campground area and as you go north past Sand Arch pull out, you will find the Salt Valley Road which heads west off the main paved road. (High clearance vehicles recommended) This improved dirt road snakes and winds through the valley and eventually leads you to a posted sign pointing you to the Tower Arch Trailhead. Now the first section involves a bit of incline and scrambling, but that should not dissuade you! The trail quickly evens out and then descends into a small valley of red rock cliffs and sand.
The trail goes up and down, through sand and over slickrock as you pass through a most unique formation known as the Marching Men which are parts of a gigantic fin of eroding sandstone!
The trail is well worn and easy to follow but does require paying attention.
- Hike #4: Devil's Garden. This 7-mile trail leads families to no less than eight magnificent arches, including the brittle-looking Landscape Arch, which in 1991 was filmed during a partial collapse of stone from underneath the immense overhang. This arch is only 1.3 miles in and a wonderful reward for very young kids who may not have the stamina to go the entire length of the Devil's Garden trail.
Of course you can turn around and head back to the trailhead any time you like! And for those who do venture further, they come upon such interesting arches such as Navajo Arch, Double O Arch and many others. The best feature about this hike is the further you go, the more arches you see!
No matter which of these short, kid-friendly hikes you take, be sure to bring enough water! Grab yourself a hydration pack or several large water bottles and be sure to keep a keen eye on your kids that they drink enough water so they aren't in danger of suffering from heat exhaustion which is always a danger when hiking or walking in the desert.
All of these hikes are clearly marked on the free maps given as you enter the park and any of the rangers you find at the visitors center can help you find them all...
Be sure to share this hike info with friends and family members with young kids so they too can play unplugged and take advantage of these hikes in Arches National Park this summer.
Now go plan a trip to the breathtaking Arches National Park where you and your kids can enjoy an adventure that successfully unplugs them from their computers, televisions and mobile devices!
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