ARCHES NATIONAL PARK — If you are planning a trip to Arches National Park, but have little kids in tow and need something a little easier to hike than Delicate Arch, consider the Windows Trail.
The Windows Trailhead is located roughly 9 miles from the park entrance and is on the same, paved road that leads to the Garden of Eden and Double Arch. Visitors can follow the signs located on the main road or can ask for a map at the pay booth when entering the park.
Due to Arches’ growing popularity, visitors should go before 10 a.m. to easily find parking along the road and at lots near the Windows Trailhead. Otherwise, you may be stuck in traffic, left circling to find a spot or walking for longer than you bargained.
Once you find parking, you will follow the trail markers along the gravel, hard-pack dirt trail until you reach a fork in the path. You can either go left and head to the North and South Windows, or you can go right toward the Turret Arch. Either direction doesn’t really matter as you can follow the loop around to all three eventually.
The trail is flat for the first little while and then gradually climbs once you head toward The Windows. There are wide built-in steps that make it easier for little kids; but depending on their age, you may need to take several breaks on your ascent. The North Window is a nice spot to take a break since the arch provides a good amount of shade and a breeze often comes through the opening in the rock face.
Once you are nice and rested, you can continue along the trail over to the South Window nearby. Behind the South Window, there is another trail, Primitive Trail, that gives you the option to go behind both Window lookouts to see a different view on your way back to the trailhead. It’s a little longer than the main trail.
If you decide to see the Turret Arch, then instead of taking the Primitive Trail after seeing the South Window and going that way back to the parking lot, continue along the main trail loop. The Turret Arch is a little jaunt off the main loop. There are more rocks to scramble over on this trail, and to get to the lookoff under the arch, an adult will need to help small children up onto the rock ledge.
When going under any of the arches, parents should make sure to watch small children to make sure they don’t fall off any of the rock ledges, as all three areas have dropoff points by the arches.
The whole loop is 1 mile round trip and takes roughly an hour, depending on how many breaks you take. If you do the main loop of the North Window, South Window and Turret Arch, the trail is easy and very kid-friendly. If you take the longer Primitive Trail back to the parking lot, it is a little more difficult.
As with all of Arches National Park, there are no trees or covering, so be sure to wear sunscreen and take water, even though it’s a short hike.
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