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Photography Guide

Arches National Park
Arches National Park is a magical landscape unlike no other on the planet. With over 2000 natural sandstone openings, sandstone spires, towers and cliffs, it is no wonder that Arches National Park is a photographer’s paradise.

Photography Pointers

The Golden Rule: Keep it Simple. A photograph is not about an object, it is about light on an object. The best photographic light occurs early in the morning and late in the afternoon, as the lower angle of light adds depth. The warmth of the light deepens the redness of the rock into amazing hues, the very reason this land is often called “color country.”

Avoid taking pictures in the bright sun of mid day. Mornings and evenings are the best times to capture those award-winning images. This guide gives suggestions on making the most of your photographic journey through the park.

Best Times to Photograph

Consider these times of day as a starting point. But keep in mind that unusual weather or shafts of sun through the clouds can create opportunities for spectacular shots anywhere, at any time. Use your photographer’s eye to find unique angles and compositions that appeal to you. After all, photography is both a technical craft and an art.

Early Morning

  • La Sal Mountain Viewpoint
  • Balanced Rock
  • Double O Arch


  • Balanced Rock
  • Garden of Eden
  • Windows (Turret Arch)
  • Windows (North and South Windows – east side)
  • Double Arch
  • Wolfe Ranch
  • Wolfe Ranch Petroglyphs
  • Delicate Arch Viewpoint
  • Panorama Point
  • Broken Arch
  • Skyline Arch (from the campground)
  • Pine Tree Arch
  • Landscape Arch
  • Dark Angel

Late Afternoon

  • Park Avenue
  • La Sal Mountain Viewpoint
  • Garden of Eden
  • Windows (Turret Arch)
  • Windows (North & South Windows)
  • Delicate Arch
  • Fiery Furnace Overlook
  • Skyline Arch (from the trail)
  • Double O Arch
  • Tower Arch


  • Park Avenue
  • La Sal Mountain Viewpoint
  • Balanced Rock
  • Delicate Arch
  • Marching Men

Location Tips

Park Avenue

Distance from the visitor center: 2.1 miles (3.8 km)
Best time of day: Late afternoon, sunset

Park Avenue is one of the most easily accessible areas in the park to view and to photograph. It is only 2.1 miles (3.4km) from the visitor center to the parking lot. The area got its name because it resembles the New York City Skyline. Mid morning or late afternoon will provide the best light. From the viewpoint, Queen Nefertiti stands tall to the left and is a beacon for light. The right side will glow in the late afternoon with nice shadows working up and down the wall.

La Sal Mountain Viewpoint

Distance from the visitor center: 2.7 miles (4.3 km)
Best time of day: Early morning, late afternoon, sunset

The La Sal Mountain View Point is an excellent spot to photograph Courthouse Towers, and the La Sal Mountains. In the early morning, light will rake across the Three Gossips, Sheep Rock, The Tower of Babel and the Organ. From the wayside exhibits a short walk to the edge provides a great vantage point for the entire area. The La Sal Mountains are the second highest mountain range in Utah at just under 13,000 feet (4,000 m) in elevation. Late afternoon and sunset are the best time to photograph the mountains. A longer lens is helpful here because of the distance to the peaks. All of these features can also be photographed from the Courthouse Towers parking area, 0.8 miles (1.2 km) beyond the La Sal Mountain Viewpoint.

Balanced Rock

Distance from the visitor center: 8.8 miles (14.1 km)
Best time of day: Morning or sunset.

The paved, accessible trail provides good close-up vantage points of Balanced Rock. From this trail, a wide angle lens works best. At sunset, Balanced Rock provides a great silhouette when photographed from the east side, especially if there are clouds in the western sky. Early evening will also accentuate the La Sal Mountains in the background and deepen reds in the rock.

Garden Of Eden

Distance from the visitor center: 10.1 miles (16.2 km)
Best time of day: Midmorning, late afternoon

The Garden of Eden is a wonderful place for a camera. From different vantage points Balanced Rock can be seen and the Windows as well. Late afternoon and early evening are great if you want to have the La Sal Mountains or The Windows section in the background, or for just wandering around the spires of the Garden of Eden. Morning will work for just exploring the Garden itself.

The Windows

Distance from the visitor center: 11.3 miles (18.1 km)
Best time of the day: Turret Arch: Morning or late afternoon. North & South Window: Afternoon. East side, morning.

The Windows affords wonderful opportunities for photographs. There is an easy 1 mile (1.6km) round trip trail up to Turret Arch and North and South Window. Turret Arch is best in the morning or afternoon light. The Windows are best photographed in the warm light of late afternoon. There is a primitive trail that extends the hike one more mile (1.6km) that takes off on the south side of the South Window and goes around the back side (east) of both windows and loops through a gap on the north side of the North Window. This primitive loop offers great opportunities with early morning light. The classic shot of Turret Arch through the north window is made from this primitive trail.

Double Arch

Distance from the visitor center: 11.5miles (18.5 km)
Best time of the day: Morning

Double Arch is truly one of the most majestic places in the park. With just a short walk you will find yourself under its two large spans. There is a copse of Juniper trees as you approach the arch which makes for nice elements in the foreground

Wolfe Ranch

Distance from the visitor center: 12.6 miles (0.2 km)
Best time of the day: Morning

At the beginning of the Delicate Arch Trail, you’ll find historic Wolfe Ranch. John Wesley Wolfe homesteaded this area around 1898. The weathered cabin, root cellar and corral are all that remain. Wolfe Ranch can be a tricky place to photograph. Early morning provides the best opportunity to capture the feeling of what life iwas like here over 100 years ago.

Wolfe Ranch Petroglyph Site

Distance from the visitor center: 12.6 miles (20.2 km)
Best time of the day: Midmorning

Petroglyphs can be difficult to photograph because hey are usually monochromatic, and the rock surface reflects a lot of light. There is plenty of vegetation surrounding this Ute Indian panel to frame the image. Boulders in front of the panel provide nice foreground and shadows.

Delicate Arch

Distance from the visitor center: 12.6 miles (20.2 km)
Best time of the day: Late afternoon, sunset

Delicate Arch is Utah’s most notable icon. There can easily be forty or more people waiting for that perfect light on any given day. Take plenty of water with you and a flashlight. If you stay to capture the last bit of light, getting down can be a challenge in the dark. The strenous hike up to Delicate Arch is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) with an elevation gain of 480 feet (146 meters). Avoid the middle of the day in summer due to extreme heat. The afternoon light will cast a nice glow on the arch the later it gets. The La Sal Mountains make a nice backdrop especially in the spring when they are snowcapped.

Delicate Arch Viewpoint

Distance from the visitor center: 13.6 miles (21.9 km). Best time of the day: Morning

There are two options for photographs from this viewpoint. From the parking lot, a short accessible walk of 100 yards (91 meters) will offer the first view. A long lens or at least a zoom is preferred because the arch is still pretty far off in the distance. The second option will get you a little closer to the arch with a little effort. A moderately strenuous hiking trail climbs one-half mile (0.8 km) toward Delicate Arch and ends at the rim of a steep canyon that separates the viewpoint from the arch. (This is not the popular trail to Delicate Arch, which starts at the Wolfe Ranch parking area.)

Panorama Point

Distance: 13.6 miles/21.9 km
Best time of day: Morning, night (stars)

From this vantage point a photographer gets sweeping views of the Salt Valley, the La Sal Mountains as well as a nice overview of the Fiery Furnace. These are all expansive views so a zoom lens is highly recommended. Panorama Point is also a great location to photograph the night sky.

Fiery Furnace Overlook

Distance: 13.9 Miles (22.3 km)
Best time of day: Late afternoon

There is a short trail from the parking area that provides many good vantage points for photographing the front of the sandstone fins that make up the Fiery Furnace. From the right perspective you can capture the La Sal Mountains along with the fins. The deep red color of the Fiery Furnace is best in late afternoon light. To enter Fiery Furnace, you will need to either join a ranger-led hike (April-October), or get a permit at the visitor center. There are no maintained trails through the Fiery Furnace. The spaces are narrow in this twisting maze so a wide angle lens is a must.

Broken Arch

Distance: 15.8 Miles (25.4 km)
Best time of day: Morning
From the parking area on the main park road, an easy 1.2 mile (2 km) hike goes out to Broken Arch. If you want to extend the experience the trail continues under Broken Arch and loops by the campground before intersecting back with the main trail. The full loop is 2 miles (3.2 km) from the parking area. As you approach the campground keep an eye out for Tapestry Arch, a wide opening that offers nice photographs.

Skyline Arch

Distance: 16.5 Miles (26.5 km)
Best time of day: Morning from campground, Late afternoon from trail

There are two ways to access Skyline Arch. One is by taking the short 0.4 mile (0.6 km) trail from the main park road. This is a short hike on a flat, well-defined trail. You can get another angle from the amphitheater in the Devils Garden Campground.

Devils Garden Trailhead

Distance: 17.5 miles (28.1 km)
Best time of day: Morning.
– Pine Tree Arch: Morning.
Access: 0.4 mile (0.6 km) easy round trip hike
– Landscape Arch: Morning.
Acess: 1.6 mile (2.6 km) easy round trip hike
– Double O Arch: Early Morning, or afternoon.
Access: 4.2 miles (6.7 km) strenuous round trip hike
– Dark Angel: Morning. Access: 5.2 miles (8.4 km) strenuous round trip hike

Longest of the maintained trails in the park, the Devils Garden Trail leads to eight awe-inspiring arches. Highlights along the way include Landscape Arch, Double O Arch, and Dark Angel. Short side hikes will allow opportunities to photograph Pine Tree Arch, Tunnel Arch, Navajo Arch and Partition Arch. Beyond Landscape Arch, the trail is more challenging, with narrow ledges, hiking over rocky surface, and exposure to heights. This part of the trail is not recommended when rock is wet or snowy. The entire trail including the side hikes is 7.2 miles (11.5 km). A guide to the Devils Garden Trail is available here.

Klondike Bluffs Area

Distance: 25.2 miles (40.5 km) some on 2wd dirt road
Best time of day:
– Marching Men: Sunset. Access: 2wd dirt road
– Tower Arch: Late afternoon. Access: 3.4 miles (5.4 km) round trip moderate hike

This is one of the most remote yet rewarding regions of the park. Klondike Bluffs stand tall like a remote island in the surrounding desert. Erosion has crafted many spires including a formation known as the Marching Men. This row of spires is best photographed at sunset as they catch the last bit of light for the day. Afternoon light is best here so go to Tower Arch first and stop for the Marching Men on your way back. Starting Point: Klondike Bluffs parking area, via the Salt Valley road

Time: 2 to 3 hours. The trail climbs a steep, but short, rock wall, cuts across a valley and then meanders through sandstone fins and sand dunes. An alternate, shorter trail (0.3 mile [0.4 km] one way), begins at the end of the four-wheel-drive road on the west side of Tower Arch. This unpaved road washes out quickly in rainstorms; ask at the visitor center about road conditions before heading out. Taking this route bypasses photo opportunities at the bluffs and Marching Men.