Typical Arches Campsite
In camper’s world, Devil’s Garden Campground is the hot, hard-to-get ticket. It’s iconic. It’s limited spacing. If it were in New York it’d have a red rope and a couple of goons standing in front. It’s listed as one of the world’s most desired camping locations and it’s yours for the low, low price $18 a night. Money alone, however, won’t get you into this campsite; to score the world-renown campsites at Devil’s Garden, you need to have internet access and grey matter enough to plan 6 months out.
Devil’s Garden Campground is located 18 miles from the entrance of Arches National Park which is about 5 miles north of Moab. To get to the campsite, you get to drive the entire length (of paved roads) through Arches National Park. It can be annoying at times because it’s highly likely you’ll get stuck behind a gawky driver doing 10 miles under the speed limit with their blinker on. That’s okay, you are slo-mo’ing through God’s own canvass---it is spectacular.
The campground designers did a pretty good job of making the sites semi-secluded in a crowded area. Most sites have some sort of shade tree or at least a big rock to further isolate the site. All campsites include a picnic table, fire pit and grill. Firewood can be bought from the camp host for cheap. Two restrooms (no showers) with running water/flush toilets are located in the camp ground. On the downside, you need to check out where your site is when you reserve, pick the wrong spot and you are looking at a quarter mile round trip bathroom to tent. Potable water is available in the campground.
The campsite itself is worth the price of admission. It is located in a semi-forested desert with Utah Juniper and pinion pines. There’s yucca, sage brush, prickly pear and, if you show up right after a rain storm, bunches of wildflowers. The land-scape in the area has a “Fred Flintstone” look to it with sandstone jutting out into odd shapes. The rocks are cool looking, all the colors vibrant reds and yellows, and the desert sunsets in the camp beautiful.
No RV Dumpsites
No electrical hookups
No Grocery store for 30 miles
Not Pet friendly…few places you can bring a dog
Misty Morning at Landscape
There are a number of “gotta do” hikes even if your intention is for rock climbing or hitting the back country. Do these and you’ll have a basis of conversation with your friends and co-workers. The longest of the “mandatories” is Primitive Trail at 7.2 miles followed by Delicate Arch at around 3.5 miles. I highly recommend hitting Primitive and/or Delicate Arch first thing in the morning…preferably at sunrise; your photos will look much better plus the parking sucks after the crowds hit.
Broken Arch Trail
Go ahead and Gawk...everyone else is!
From I-70, take US 191 South toward Moab. 5 miles before Moab, you’ll see a large sign for Arches National Park. Drive in, pay the $10. Follow the main road for 18 miles. Camp entrance is just before the Primitive Trial parking lot.
DO NOT blindly follow Bing or Google Maps if you aren’t familiar with the area! For instance Bing directions Arches to Canyonlands will send you on a 7 hour trip, 150 miles out of your way. It’s actually only 48 miles and less than an hour. Computer directions will also needlessly show you crossing dirt roads to get to Arches National Park and are completely convoluted. Google and Bing are not to be trusted in this area for some reason. Consult a real map before taking off.
Camping in Arches is a come as you are party; resupply inside the park is limited and to get anything more than water you’ll end up going to stores in Moab. As a result, grocery runs involve a 50 mile round trip drive. Preparation is key.
The only resupply assets immediately available inside the park are water and firewood. Everything else from matches to sandwich materials has to be brought in with you.
You have to reserve the campsites during the peak season (March – October). You can’t reserve more than 240 days in advance, but I do recommend calling 239 days before your trip. These sites fill up FAST!
You make reservations either by phone or online reservations through www.recreation.gov
or call 877-444-6777. There are 50 campsites and 2 group sites available. Campsites are $18 a night (2015) for a regular site. Entry into the park is a ridiculously reasonable $10 for seven days.
If you strike out, Canyonlands National Park is first come-first served. For other campgrounds outside Arches, visit www.discovermoab.com
It’s a desert. It gets hot. That should go without saying but a surprising number of people complain. With the heat, you’ve got to plan for heat stroke—wear long sleeves, sunblock, hats, and drink a gallon (of water) a day.
On the other end of the spectrum, slick rock becomes extra slick when wet or icy and pushes otherwise pedestrian hikes into dangerous territory. Hard rain causes flash flooding in the area and, although there aren’t any rivers in the park, your canyon can turn into a dangerous quagmire in minutes.
Chill by the fire
Arches isn’t a particularly large park but there are some remote areas where it may be a while before anyone shows up. Several years ago one woman spent most of the day stuck in quicksand (yes, quicksand) just off of a major hike area. With that in mind, rescue is most likely if you travel with a buddy and/or let someone know where you are. Cell phone service is uneven throughout the park—don’t count on it for mapping or calling for help.