The Windows Section is one of the most popular parts of Arches National Park, with short and easy hiking trails to many arches including the North Window and South Window, Turret Arch and Double Arch. All of The Windows hikes are accessible from a large central carpark – early morning and late afternoon being the best times to visit.
North Window and South Window loop
A well-signposted, paved trail from the carpark heads toward the North Window and South Window.
As well as multiple arches, there landscape is dominated by interesting rock formations.
The trail soon reaches a junction; if you head in an anti-clockwise direction the first arch you’ll reach is the keyhole-shaped Turret Arch, the smallest of the three arches (but it’s a still-impressive 64 foot / 19.5m high and 39 foot / 12m wide). A second and much smaller arch is directly to the right of the main arch.
You can hike up to the base of Turret Arch, which frames a nice view of the North Window and South Window arches.
From the main loop trail, there’s a great view of Turret Arch in one direction, and the North Window and South Window arches in the other.
Directly ahead is the South Window, which is elevated above the desert floor (so you can’t stand under the arch). South Window is the third-largest arch in Arches National Park, and is 105 feet / 32m long and 65 feet / 19.8m high.
The trail continues along the front of “Nose Bridge”, the name give to the band of rock which spans the two arches. You can go up to the base of the goes up to the North Window arch, which is 51 feet / 15.5m high and 93 feet / 28.3m wide.
From the base of North Window, there are some great views over the surrounding desert landscape.
The trail descends back to the carpark, with views back to Turret Arch and the rock formations around Double Arch.
A separate, paved trail on the opposite side of the parking area heads to Double Arch
Double Arch consists of two arches that share the same stone as a foundation for both of their outer legs, giving the arch its name. The arch was formed by downward water erosion from above the sandstone, rather than from side-to-side water erosion.
Although the official trail stops below the arches, you can scramble up to the base of the arches, which are even more impressive when you’re looking directly up to the arch. Double Arch is the tallest arch in the park (at 112 ft / 34m high) and the second-longest (144 ft / 44m). If scrambling up from the trail, it can be a bit trickier to get down than it is to get up – noet the NPS advice “Hikers choosing to scramble up the rock beneath the arches should plan their route carefully, as climbing up is often easier than climbing back down”!
There are also some great views from under Double Arch, both to the south over the carpark and the North and South Windows, and to the west over Elephant Butte.
It’s back the same way to the carpark, which completes The Windows loop hike. You can visit all the arches in the Windows Section in 30-45min if walking at brisk pace, but an hour allows a bit of time for taking photos.
Getting to the The Windows section hikes
All of The Windows hiking trails start at a large carpark at the end of The Windows Road, which branches of the the main Park Avenue or Arches National Park Road 9.5 miles / 15.3km from the entrance station. There is a lower and upper carpark, and a short hiking trail links the North and South Windows trail and the Double Arch trail. Arches National Park is five miles (8km) north of Moab, Utah, along the US-191.