One of my favorite hikes and a super easy way to see three different really cool arches. The Windows arch is one of the best short hikes in Arches National Park, and its popularity certainly shows. You can get up close and personal with some of these arches, and get a chance to quickly wander through the arches or spend as much time as you want. Follow along to learn about the hike.
About Windows Trail Hike
Distance: 1 – 1.2 miles | Type: Loop | Elev. Gain: 154 feet. | Difficulty: Easy
The Windows hike is an easy to traverse hike of about 1.2 miles that takes you to three different arches. The North Window, South Window, and Turret. The trail is pretty well marked and easy going.
You can actually do the loop in either direction. If you prefer to visit the windows first or the turret. It’s all worth visiting. You can either back track a bit and do all three in a loop or finish the south window last and follow the “primitive trail” back to the start. Overall, unless you want to do the primitive trail it’s well enough backtracking and saving some mileage.
For another quick hike, the Double Arch trailhead starts on the opposite side of the parking lot and takes you to the double arch. One of the most recognizable arches in the national park.
Best Times to Do the Hike
This hike is one of the rare hikes that is really good any time of year. You’ll be able to do this in the winter as long as there are no road closures. Although you may still be able to access it, it’s further off the main road than many of the other hikes. You may even get some great snow on the arches as well.
The hike in the summer is very hot during the mid-day, although thankfully its a shorter and easier than other hikes to arches. It’s certainly worth carrying water and preparing for the heat and sun however.
The hike is popular year-round, so it’s nice if you can go off-season to get far fewer hikes as well.
How to Get to Windows Trail
Trailhead: Windows Trailhead
The windows arch trailhead is located about 11.5miles (21 mins) from the Arches National Park Visitor Center down the Windows Road. The trailhead is about 2.4 miles from where the main arches road meets the window road. You’ll pass through some beautiful structures and viewpoints on the way to the trailhead, including the garden of Eden.
There’s a fairly decent amount of parking (~50 cars) on the side by the windows trailhead. On the other side of the loop you’ll see parking as well as the trailhead for the Double Arch. You’ll see a lot of people if you look probably on that side hiking out to that arch too.
Hiking the Windows Trail
The Hiking Trail is pretty straightforward and well marked. From the start of the hike you can see most of the windows and arch. So its not really pointed to have to do step by step for each of the arches. So we’ll just talk about the various arches here with photos.
The Turret Arch. You can’t help but noticed this arch as you come into the park. It’s very distinct with a small outcropping on one end of the arch. You can easily do this one first and it’s probably best if you plan to take the primitive trail back.
The North Window Arch is my favorite of the three. It is a large window that you can see on the “opposite side” from the South window. The thing about the north window is that there is a small hill that lets you climb up so you can be beneath the arch. It was actually a pretty good spot to get photos.
The South Window is on the other side of the pillar from the north window. You can actually line it up pretty well to see both windows in the same photo from a bit afar. If you get close you will be below the arch here. You can then look up and get photos of the arch from below.
From here you have two choices. to the right of the south window (when facing) you’ll see a sign that marks the “primitive trail”. This will loop you back through the grounds towards the entrance of the arches. It’s pretty easy going for a primitive trail and you can certainly find your way. If you are short for time or don’t want to bother, you can also backtrack a bit and walk back out. Or you could have looped the arches into a smaller loop and then return on the small trail towards from the trailhead.
Tips & FAQs
- As with most trails in Arches, Dogs are not allowed on the trail
- The trail is rather easy. You can even walk under the north window arch if you prefer.
- Be sure to take a bit extra time and see the double arch (or at least photograph it). Also check out some of the cool arches and features on the drive in. Like the Garden of Eden
- There’s a primitive trail connecting back if you prefer. Although it doesn’t really show you much.