The Windows

The Windows in early spring
Winter into Spring: sunset at the Windows.

NPS/Neil Herbert

Thrilling Beauty


The Windows Section is considered by some to be the beating heart of Arches National Park. The area contains a large concentration of arches and is one of the most scenic locations in the park. North Window, Turret Arch, and Double Arch are just a few of the awe-inspiring expanses you’ll find in just over two square miles. Other named features in this area include Garden of Eden, Elephant Butte, and Parade of Elephants.

In the words of Frank Bethwick, leader of a 1933-34 scientific expedition, “These arches are of thrilling beauty. Caused by the cutting action of wind-blown sand (not stream erosion), one marvels at the intricacies of nature.” This section of the park offers both beauty and variety –hiking, sightseeing, stargazing, photography, and enjoyment for the whole family.

The Windows Area is located 9 miles (14.5 km) north on the park road and 2.5 miles (4 km) east on the Windows road. The drive-time from the Arches Visitor Center is approximately 25 minutes. Visiting this area is ideal for people limited on time and those not looking for a strenuous hike.

A gentle climb up a gravel trail leads to the massive North Window, South Window, and Turret Arch (0.7 mi/1.1 km roundtrip). Return to the parking lot via the same trail, or take the slightly longer primitive trail around the Windows by starting at South Window viewpoint (1 mi/1.6 km roundtrip). The first 100 yards may be accessible to wheelchairs with assistance.
 
Double Arch in the Windows.
Double Arch

NPS/Andrew Kuhn

The Double Arch trail (0.5 mi/0.8 km roundtrip) is a relatively flat, gravel-surfaced path which leads to the base of two huge arching spans. Double Arch is the tallest (112 ft/34 m) and second-longest (144 ft/44 m) arch in the park. The glorious giant is also viewable from the parking area (without hiking) and may be wheelchair accessible with assistance.

The Windows parking lot, though large, regularly fills to capacity. Consider leaving and coming back at a later time if the lot is full – waiting for a spot can cause significant congestion. Avoid crowds (and the heat) by visiting in the early morning hours or late afternoon.

Visiting the Windows can be a thrilling and rewarding experience for visitors of all ages. Help protect the park by leaving no trace and staying on established trails.
 
Patches of soil crust.
Biological soils stabilize the desert floor.

NPS/Neil Herbert

Biological soil crust is a living groundcover that forms the foundation of high desert plant life in Arches and the surrounding area. This knobby, black crust is dominated by cyanobacteria, but also includes lichens, mosses, green algae, microfungi and bacteria. Soil crust binds sand and rock particles together which allows plants to establish their roots. They also provide desert plants moisture and nutrients in otherwise inhospitable environment. You can help preserve these fragile and unique life-forms by staying on established trails.

Last updated: November 4, 2017

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 907
Moab, UT 84532

Phone:

(435) 719-2299

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