Arches National Park Camping is a lot like camping on the moon might be – an otherworldly experience of bizarre rock formations, a brilliant, star-studded sky, and a dry atmosphere that makes visitors feel like they’re in an episode of the Twilight Zone. The park itself is a landscape of contrasting colors, landforms and textures that would be at home on any planet in our solar system. The stunning red rocks and arches located throughout the park remind visitors of movie sets for sci-fi movies. It should. More than 100 movies have been filmed in the park, or in the Moab, Utah area. Download a complete list here: Movie Sets in Moab. movie_pdf.pdf
Love For Arches National Park Camping –
It’s no wonder Hollywood fell in love with Arches National Park. The park has the highest concentration of natural arches in the world. Arches National Park is a wonderland of red rocks and blue sky. The red rock landscape at Arches might feel timeless, dream-like, or even other-worldly. People have documented over 2,000 natural stone arches within park boundaries. You can see many of these arches, towers, pinnacles, and balanced rocks from the paved park roads. Take a hike, and you can see even more. Towering spires, fins and balanced rocks complement the arches, creating a remarkable assortment of landforms in a relatively small area. The park is within an arid, high desert environment with hot summers and cold winters. They also have great camping, hiking and biking trails, and ranger programs for all levels of outdoors lovers.
Great Food Near Arches National Park Camping –
There are no restaurants or lodges in Arches National Park. The nearest restaurants and hotels are in Moab, Utah, about five miles from the park entrance. If you plan to eat or spend the night, bring your own food, and plan to stay at the only campground in the park – Devil’s Garden.
Picnic Areas inside Arches National Park Camping Sites
There are several spots for picnicking inside the park. All these areas have picnic tables and restrooms nearby. Some also have fire grates. They’re located at:
● Arches Visitor Center
● Across the road from Balanced Rock
● At the Delicate Arch Viewpoint
● At Devils Garden
Devils Garden Campground inside Arches National Park Camping
Keep driving once you enter Arches National Park if you want to camp. Devils Garden Campground is located deep within the heart of beautiful Arches National Park in Southeastern Utah. The campground is situated among natural sandstone arches and fins 18 miles north of the park’s entrance and 23 miles from Moab, Utah. The campground is forested with mixed stands of Utah juniper and pinyon pine. Flowering prickly pear cacti, yucca and other desert wildflowers dot the landscape, offering vivid color to the surrounding red rock desert.
Devils Garden Sites –
Devils Garden contains 51 campsites that are available for reservation (Including the two group sites and one accessibility site). Roads and parking spurs are paved, allowing smooth access for all types of travelers. A campground host is located on-site. Flush toilets and drinking water are provided, and campsites contain picnic tables and fire rings. The park does not have dump stations, or electric, water, or sewer hookups for RVs. There are also no showers. Sites are first come, first served between Nov. 1 and Feb. 28, but reservation only after that.
Arches have hundreds of miles of hiking trails including the popular Broken Arch Trail, a scenic loop with a trailhead conveniently located within the campground. There are trails for all levels of hikers, from the easy 0.3-mile loop around Balanced Rock to the steep and strenuous 3-mile round-trip trail to Delicate Arch. Other recreational activities in the park include guided hiking tours of the Fiery Furnace, an off-road vehicle route, road biking and picnicking.
Camping Around and Outside Arches National Park Camping
Arches National Park’s campground fills up fast. If you can’t get a site inside Devil’s Campground, it’s time to start looking for campgrounds outside the park.
Dead Horse State Park – Arches National Park Camping
The Kayenta campground at Dead Horse Point State Park has 20 sites. Each site is well spaced to offer as much privacy as possible. The sites don’t offer much shade, and can be quite hot in the summer, so plan on bringing an awning, tent, or another shelter in addition to your tent or RV. If you’re planning a winter trip, bring shelter too as the winter months can be quite cold. The campsites, which vary in size, are open to both tents and RVs. You can make reservations up to four months in advance of your stay. Reservations are accepted year-round. This campground has electrical hookups and flush toilets.
Squaw Flat – Arches National Park Camping
Squaw Flat is actually two campgrounds divided into “A” and “B,” and together they have a total of 26 campsites. Camping here can be a real advantage if you are planning on hiking in The Needles area, which is fairly remote. Because many of the hiking trails are long and take a full day to complete, it’s just easier to get an early start from the campground. Moab is nearly two hours away, so the four hours you spend in your car will cut down on the time you can spend on the trail. Save yourself long commutes if you’re doing multiple days of hiking as well.
Review of Sites –
While all the sites are perfectly adequate, many campers believe that the sites are in “A,” campground, the larger of the two areas, are superior. The views in A are of the landscape and there is a larger spacing between each site. Campground “B” is set around a few large rock formations, making the sites feel cozier. However “B” sites are comfortably large too and it’s just a matter of personal preference. How long will you be sitting outside enjoying the views? All sites are on a first-come, first-served basis and are available to tents or RVs up to 28 feet.
BLM Land Outside Arches National Park Camping
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) maintains 24 campgrounds in the Moab area. Individual Campsites are available on a first-come/first-served basis. No reservations are accepted. Please note that drinking water is NOT available at these campsites and plan accordingly.
● All BLM campgrounds and camping areas have vault toilets, fire rings, are open year round, and a fee is charged. Note that firewood gathering is not allowed so bring your own wood (available at convenience stores in Moab).
● All individual sites: $15/night (Pay at campground; cash or check only)
● RV Sites have no hook-ups.
● Camping at all sites is limited to 14 days within a 30 day period.
● Individual Campsites are available on a first-come/first-served basis. No reservations are accepted.
● Group Campsites – Several campgrounds feature reservable group sites, which are suitable for large groups. All BLM group campgrounds are reserved through recreation.gov.
Breath Taking Scenery –
You really can’t go anywhere near Moab, Utah without encountering stuffing vistas, dramatic cliff walls, and the Colorado River. However, if you head east out of Moab on Highway 128, down a narrow, twisting highway that runs along the south side of the river, there’s a series of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) campgrounds along the Colorado River. These campsites are located right off of the road, but they exceed any typical roadside view. They are hemmed in by dramatic sheer cliff walls that make for a stunning campground backdrop. These campgrounds are all operated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is a nightly fee. Best of all, all of the campgrounds have toilets.
If you are here to enjoy the river, or to bike, you’re in luck. Not only are the campgrounds next to the river, they’re also near the trailhead for the Negro Bill Canyon hiking trail and the terminus of the Porcupine Rim biking trail.
Things You Should Know Before You Go Camping Off-Road
There are hundreds of miles of four-wheel-drive roads in around both Arches National Park, and Canyonlands National Park. While the roads do provide access to various campsites, trailheads, and viewpoints in the park’s backcountry, they are not usually paved and can be very rough. These roads range in difficulty from intermediate to extremely technical. Research your route thoroughly before attempting:
What to Know –
● White Rim Road at Island in the Sky (moderate) https://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/whiterimroad.htm
● Four-wheel-drive Roads at The Needles (moderate to technical) https://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/needlesroads.htm
● Four-wheel-drive Roads at The Maze (mostly technical) https://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/mazeroads.htm
If you plan to enjoy the park’s four-wheel-drive roads, please be aware of the following:
● A four-wheel-drive vehicle (low range) is required on the White Rim Road and all backcountry roads at The Needles and The Maze. Other vehicles with two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive do not have the ground clearance or low gearing to negotiate the rough slickrock, loose rocks, deep sand and steep switchbacks found on these roads.
● All vehicles must remain on established roads.
● ATVs, UTVs and OHVs are not permitted. Motorbikes must be equipped and licensed for interstate travel.
● All vehicles must be registered and operated by a licensed driver.
Permitted Items in Arches National Park Camping-
● Pets are not permitted, even in the vehicle.
● Road conditions can change quickly following rain or snow. Check road conditions before you go. https://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/road-conditions.htm
● Day Use: You must have a permit for day use on White Rim Road, Elephant Hill Road, Lavender Canyon Road, and Horse Canyon/Peekaboo Road. https://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/dayusepermits.htm
● Overnight: You must have a permit for all overnight trips in the backcountry. During the spring and fall, demand for permits frequently exceeds the number available. If you plan to visit Canyonlands during peak season, especially to camp along the White Rim Road, we recommend that you make reservations well in advance. https://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/backcountrypermits.htm
Drive carefully! Towing charges are very expensive. People caught in the backcountry of Canyonlands with disabled vehicles can expect towing fees in excess of $2,000. AAA and other towing insurance may not be valid on back country dirt roads.
Campgrounds Outside Arches National Park Camping Destination
If you’re heading East on Highway 128 about two miles outside of Moab along Highway 128 is Goose Island Campground , open to both tents and RVs. There’s a paved bike trail that runs from the campground, down along the river, and into the town of Moab. There’s good shade in the summer too. Further down Highway 128 is the Granstaff Campground. This campground is better suited for the solo or car camper as they have smaller sites for tent camping. Goose Island and Grandstaff campgrounds typically fill between 8:00-10:00 a.m. every day.
Haven’t found a site you like?
Go five miles further on to the Hal Canyon Campground. It’s small too, with only 11 small sites suited for tents; two of these are walk-in sites. Next to Hal Canyon Campground is Oak Grove Campground, also small. Oak Grove has seven tent-only sites, four of which are walk-in sites.
If you need something bigger keep driving, as Big Bend Campground, is next to Oak Grove. Big Bend has a sandy beach and 23 sites, many with riverfront views, for both tents and RVs.
Driving to A Campground –
If you don’t mind a drive of 20+ miles from Moab, there are still more campgrounds, including Hittle Bottom on the banks of the Colorado River,
the Upper and Lower Onion Creek campgrounds, and Fisher Towers, which offers some of the best views in the state. If everything else is filled up, it’s good to know these are good fallbacks with their own unique and stunning views. They’re also great sites for hikers wanting to walk the Fisher Towers Trail, or travelers just looking for a place to stay the night as they travel through.
Islands in the Sky Campground Area
MORE INFO HERE
There are campground areas on the road leading into the Islands in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park. All of these campgrounds are under the control of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The Visitor Center at Canyonlands National Park provides information on these campgrounds but is not responsible for bookings.
MORE INFO HERE
Horsethief Campground is one of the most popular BLM campgrounds. Horsethief is a large, non-reservable campground that accommodates both tents and RVs. Located close to popular biking and hiking trails, it attracts many visitors with children, as well as adult bikers. Almost directly across the highway from the campground are the Horsethief Area biking trails, including the Magnificent 7 trailhead. Walking trails also leave from this campground, and the Gemini Bridges Road is nearby, on the opposite side of the highway. Horsethief Campground typically fills by noon to mid-afternoon (sooner Fri-Sat). All Upper Colorado River (Hwy128) campgrounds usually fill in the late afternoons or evenings.
MORE INFO HERE
Just down from Horsethief Campground is a small, seven tent sites only campground called “Cowboy Campground.” Set on a rise, with good views over the surrounding area this campground is quieter than Horsethief. It’s also quite exposed to the wind and elements, so it’s better for those with sturdy tents. Located on Highway 313, 18 miles from the junction of Highway 191.
A self-serve pay station sits at the entrance to the campground, and a narrow rocky road leads to the seven campsites. As the sign warns at the entrance, the road is not suited for large vehicles or trailers. If you stay at Cowboy Camp, don’t leave without going for a hike along the White Rim Trail. There’s great hiking along the Moab Slickrock Trail, and along the Shafer Trail. Campfires are allowed.
The camp may not be filled with amenities, but nearby there is fishing, hiking, biking, golf and horseback riding. Be sure to bring water with you (available at Lions Park at the intersection of highways 191 and 128 in Moab), and take your trash with you when you leave. You can find a dumpster at Horsethief Campground a few miles north on Hwy 313. The campground is within an earshot of UT 313, but it’s conveniently located near Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands National Park, and close to a restaurant, store and other amenities.
Bride Canyon – Arches National Park Camping
MORE INFO HERE
This BLM campsite, like most, is free. There are 6 sites, and it’s open all year. It’s primarily a tent and car-camping site. The sites are stunning with red cliff walls towering over the area, and rock spires, some shading from a small grove of trees. There is no water, no electricity, and no toilets, but it’s a fantastic site to spend the night at.
Other Campgrounds Near Moab
Lone Mesa Campground – Arches National Park Camping
MORE INFO HERE
If you have a group of campers, head over to Lone Mesa, a campground specifically for groups. Group bookings are accepted, however, there is a schedule of groups posted at the entrance, and if there is no one booked for group camping, anyone can camp here. If you’re in an RV and can’t find camping anywhere else, this is an option if no one else is using it because this campground is mainly just a large parking pad. It is also very close to the Navajo Rocks biking area trailheads.
Campgrounds and RV Parks in the Town of Moab
There are many reasons people want to stay in, or as close as possible to Moab as possible. Although Moab is not that large, it does offer amenities, dining, and shopping that some visitors like. There are several RV Campgrounds in Moab. Some of these are in town and within walking distance of the main street, and some are further out but a short drive from town. For some campers, it’s just a matter of whether or not a campground is available anywhere at the time you want to visit. Most sites book up in advance, making it impossible to find a last minute campsite during the high season. Some of these parks include the Moab Valley RV Resort & Campground, Canyonlands RV Resort and Campground, Portal RV Resort , and Slickrock Campground. There are also several other commercial campgrounds just south of Moab.
9 Needles Overlook Area Camping – Arches National Park Camping
MORE INFO HERE
The Needles Overlook is south of Moab. The turnoff for this area is between the town and the road leading to The Needles district of Canyonlands National Park and is marked with a sign on the highway. This road leading out to the Needles Overlook splits, and a gravel road leads out to the Anticline Overlook, while the main road continues on to the Needles Overlook. These lookouts are spectacular, and since they are at least 20 minutes off the main highway, they do not receive the type of traffic seen in the park.
Hatch Point Campground – Arches National Park Camping
MORE INFO HERE
Is located 56 miles southwest of Moab, on the gravel road leading out to the Anticline Overlook. It’s set on a mesa with views of the surrounding area. To reach the campground drive 32 miles south of Moab on Highway 191 to the Canyon Rims Recreation Area turnoff. Follow that road for approximately 15 miles and turn right on the graveled road that goes towards Anticline Overlook. Follow this graveled road for about 9 miles to the campground. The campground is situated on a mesa top which offers fine views of the surrounding area. The remote and quiet location guarantees excellent star-gazing opportunities. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
This is a typical BLM campground with a flush toilet, no potable water, and 10 campsites. If you are exploring the Needles Overlook area, you will notice that there are what appear to be campsites off the left side of the road, just a few minutes before you reach the Overlook. Stone fire pits and open spaces are in spectacular cliff-side locations here that look tempting. However, these are undesignated campsites and it is not a BLM campground.