Arches National Park has so many options for shorter day hikes. We loved how easy it was to hop out of the car and hop on the trail throughout the park. As we recap our road trip to Arches and Canyonlands National Park, we’re starting off with one of our favorite hikes in Arches National Park – the Park Avenue Trail.
We picked the Park Avenue hike on the recommendation of Dusty and Mike from Gaze at the National Parks Podcast (check out S1: Episode 13 and 14 for their Arches recaps!)
We’re looking forward to sharing our trail info today and hope you’ll add this quick out-and-back or shuttle hike to your next trip to Arches!
About the Park Avenue Trail
Trail Quick Links
The Park Avenue Trail gets its namesake from the famous New York City street. The out-and-back or shuttle trail travels through a stunning canyon with spires and towers that early travelers thought resembled the buildings on Park Avenue. It’s one of the first chances to get on the trail as you enter the park and gives hikers a stunning view of what to expect in the rest of Arches.
Although the trail is typically reached via the Park Avenue Overlook, it can also be hiked from the Courthouse Towers Trailhead. The trail distance and difficulty are about the same in either direction. When we arrived at the park in the late afternoon, The Park Avenue Parking area was already full, so we opted to hike from the Courthouse Towers parking lot just down the road.
Distance & Difficulty
Trail Distance: (1 miles one way, about 2.1 miles round trip)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate. There’s some stair climbing at the end of the trail to the Park Avenue Overlook that some hikers may find strenuous. The sun exposure and heat add to the difficulty of the trail.
Find The Trailhead: The trailhead parking area for Park Avenue is 2.5 miles from the entrance station. As one of the first overlooks in the park, it’s often full. Don’t worry if it’s full, just keep driving another 1.2 miles (3.7 total from the entrance station) to the Courthouse Towers Parking area.
GPS Coordinates: N37 27.653′ / W109 35.967′
What You'll See
The first section of the trail is flat and opens to a large sweeping views of The Park Avenue formations and spires. From the parking area spend a few minutes taking in a 360 view of your surroundings. Arches is pretty breathtaking wherever you are, but this is one of the best views in the park.
From this spot you can see the Courthouse Towers, and then shortly into the hike you’ll find the Three Gossips, Queen Victoria Rock, the Organ, and the other grand “skyscrapers” of Park Avenue.
The trail wanders through the canyon to the overlook through the sandy wash. At times it’s not clear where the trail goes, so watch for the cairns and try to stay off the delicate desert soils.
Don’t let the smiling picture here fool you. We were at the start of a very windy few days in the park. We were happy to have masks for social distancing along, because it was the only way to keep the dust out of our faces.
When to Hike the Park Avenue Trail
The Park Avenue Trail is open year-round, but given the summer temps, it can be very hot for daytime hiking. During the shoulder seasons of March-May and September-October, the park is VERY busy. We hiked here in April and the Park Avenue Overlook parking area was almost always full when we drove past.
We recommend hiking Park Avenue late in the afternoon or early evening. You’ll not only avoid some of the crowds and parking challenges, but you’ll also catch the Park Avenue skyscrapers with the best lighting. The evening glow off the rocks here is second-to-none and some of our favorite pictures from the trip came from this late-afternoon hike.
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