Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are only a few miles apart. They share the same gateway town – Moab, Utah – and are both great places to explore. Despite their geographical closeness, however, their geology is quite different. This difference in scenery creates a difference in your vacation experience. This is great if you have time to see both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks – but which park do you visit if you’re short on time? Here is some information to help you decide.
Arches National Park – Arches is the smaller of the two parks, approximately 76,000 acres. It is, however, more popular and more famous than Canyonlands. Arches is also closer to Moab, which can be more convenient for families with kids. As the name suggests, Arches National Park is primarily known for its collection of spectacular arches. The park contains over 2,000 examples of sandstone bridges and arches, one of which appears on the Utah State license plate.
Canyonlands National Park – Canyonlands is much larger than Arches, covering 337,598 acres of wilderness. It is also the least visited national park in Utah, with under half a million visitors per year. Canyonlands is located about an hour south of Moab. Canyonlands is noted for its canyon river landscape, highland geology, and an assortment of monolithic geology. It also has a few arches of its own. We recommend river rafting as the best activity in Canyonlands National Park.
If you want a shorter, more mainstream vacation that is closer to modern lodging, we suggest Arches National Park. If however, you want a more adventurous, diversified, and off-the-beaten-track vacation, try visiting Canyonlands. Whichever you choose, we’re pretty sure you’ll have fun.