Best Time of Day to Visit Arches National Park
The best time of day to visit Arches National Park is in the morning or evening when the sunlight angle is low, accentuating the shadows and textures of the rock features, but best of all, the deep red and orange colors come alive in these "golden" sunlight hours. If you enter the park before 6:00 AM, or after 5:00 PM you can enter without the timed entry reservation ticket that is in place to help alleviate and disperse crowds in the park during the middle of the day.
Ironically, the worst time of day to visit (middle of the day when light is flat) is the most popular (most crowded) time of day. Arches National Park will reward those who get up early for sunrise, or stay there through the sunset hours. On a guided van tour you can take advantage of these morning and evening hours without the need to get your own timed entry reservation, and without the need to wake too early.
Arches National Park in March
In March you can expect Arches National Park to be a little chilly, breezy, beginning to find the green of spring. Jacket weather, for sure. Crowds will be far less present in March, making it a great time to get shots of Arches without people in them. Additionaly, in March you have a good chance of seeing the white-capped snowy peaks of the LaSal mountains in the distance, contrasting with the desert colors in the foreground.
Arches National Park in April
April may be the very best hiking weather you can enjoy in Arches National Park, and the Moab area. Jackets would still be wise, but for the most part you're hiking without a sweat. With the sun still not fully overhead, even at high noon, you can still see good shadows and contrast on the rock features for spectacular photos. The snow-capped LaSal peaks in the distance offer good contrast with the desert red rock you'll be hiking. April often brings the best showcase of the desert in bloom with cactus wildflowers dotting the landscape.
Arches National Park in May
Early May has all the advantages of April, with a little more warmth. As the month of May progresses toward June both temperatures and crowds will increase and cactus flowers will diminish. May is still a great month for hiking, even in the mid-day heat on most days. Be sure to bring water for any hikes longer than a few minutes.
June in Arches National Park
June may be the most dry month in which to visit Arches National Park. That means clear blue skies, perhaps without a could in sight. Mid-day heat in June, July and August relegate good hiking to mornings and evenings.
With the longest days of the year in June, the sunrise will come very early and the sun's light may not fully fade to dark until after 9 PM. This extra time may allow you to get to your desired sunset photo perch in time, or it may require you stay out later than you thought you'd have to!
July in Arches National Park
As the heat and the crowds build in the desert, so do cumulonimbus clouds. Monsoon season is approaching, but thunderstorms here may only last a brief fifteen minutes or so before moving on across the landscape. These clouds can make for dramatic lighting and interesting skies against the arches you find yourself among. The flat light of mid-day in mid-summer makes for not a very great time to be visiting Arches National Park, so plan your visits for the morning and evening hours.
August in Arches National Park
In early August you will likely find the lingering remnants of monsoon season which begins in mid-July. Heat, crowds and billowing clouds begin to fade in Arches National Park as August moves toward the Fall season. This time of year it's best to beat the heat of mid-day with a day rafting adventure, and a visit to Arches in the evening sunset hours.
September and October in Arches National Park
On record, these are the wettest months in which to visit Moab and Arches National Park. Monsoon season ends as the summer temperatures cool, but winter storm weather is only a few months away. However, there is a window of time between these two seasons when there probably isn't a better time to visit Arches National Park and the Moab area. This "indian summer" as it is called, is especially enchanting in the desert southwest. The angle of sunlight, particularly in October, offers shadows and contrast for the red-rock features like no other time of year in Moab. Red rocks also seem to glow in a way unlike any other time of year. Cottonwood trees in Courthouse Wash, running through the middle of Arches National Park, are ablaze with Fall color. Plein air artists poise to catch this brilliance. Hiking is easy in these temperatures, although bringing a jacket is wise. Sunsets come earlier this time of year, allowing for the chance to catch restaurants still open in town after dark.
November in Arches National Park
You will find snow on red rock features, icy trails, and frigid temperatures in the months of November through February in Arches National Park. You may be surprised to imagine snow piled up on these iconic desert features, but Moab sits in the high desert, just over 4,000 feet above sea level. For obvious reasons crowds have long since dispersed. You may even find yourself alone in the park for a few quiet minutes.