Moab and Arches National Park with a Baby or Toddler

Author: Christina and Celine Brewer

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We are National Park enthusiasts, who travel with our toddler around the country. We’ve returned to Utah multiple times since it is home to dramatic landscapes and boasts 5 US National Parks that have some the of the best hikes in the US with a baby or toddler.

When traveling during school breaks, we’ve found Utah to be a great place to travel with a baby or toddler because it’s pretty affordable when the parks provide most of your entertainment.

For spring break, we wanted to choose a destination that would be too hot to visit in the summer, but comfortable in the spring. Moab and Arches National Park ended up being the perfect toddler-friendly destination. We did this trip when our daughter was 2 years old and traveled during the second week in April.

Main Road in Arches National Park

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Why Visit Arches National Park with Toddlers

We chose to visit Arches National Park with a toddler for a few reasons:

  1. Moab is less than 10 minutes down the road from Arches, which means that we could have all the comforts of a town, including great hotels, while still visiting the park each day.

  2. Moab, Utah is a destination in itself, and offers a lot of different activities for families.

  3. If you’re traveling with a baby or toddler in Arches National Park, you can take in the epic views just by driving and/ or taking a short hike off the main road.
Balance Rock - Arches National Park with a Toddler

Getting to Arches National Park

To get to Moab and Arches National Park, it’s easiest to fly into Salt Lake City (SLC) International Airport. From SLC, you can rent a car and drive the 3.5 hours to Moab, or you can take a short flight there. We opted to rent a car in SLC, since it was the more affordable choice, and we wanted to visit the city upon our return.

We gate-checked both our car seat and stroller for our toddler, and were able to install it easily in the rental car upon pick-up.

You can also fly into Moab directly, via Canyonlands Regional Airport (CNY), which is serviced by Delta, United, and Southwest airlines, but for most travelers, that requires a hopper flight, or additional layovers.

Read more on Flying with car seats and Flying with a Stroller.

Windows Trail - easy hikes in Arches National Park with baby or toddler

Where to Stay in Moab with a baby or toddler

For our trip to Moab with a toddler, we stayed in hotels for the entire week.  We did this because temperatures were unpredictable during our stay in April. One day it was 75 degrees, and two days later the temperature dropped below freezing.

We highly recommend staying at either the Hyatt Place Moab or the Marriott properties in Moab.

Hyatt Place

The Hyatt Place is incredibly family-friendly and an ideal place to stay in Moab with a toddler.

It is close to restaurants, which allows families to walk to dinner with a baby or toddler in a stroller, and the rooms are large and spacious. Families can book a room with two queen beds plus a pull out couch, which means, you can fit up to six family members with ease.

Hyatt Place Moab - best places to stay in Moab with toddlers

The pool is also heated, and the first section has a series of shallow, wall to wall steps where your baby or toddler can sit and splash around. This was perfect for our 2 year old. The Hyatt also has a hot tub next to the pool, and a small playground.

Hyatt Place in Moab - where to stay with toddler or baby

Breakfast here was a nice, hearty buffet, and we even found some non-traditional options, like breakfast burritos. The other perk of the Hyatt in Moab is that at night, they offer a small restaurant with options for dinner. If you’re exhausted after a long day, and just need some pizza or chicken fingers, then this will work well for your family.

Springhill Suites and Fairfield Inn & Suites

If you love pools, hot tubs, and life-sized chess pieces, then check out the Springhill Suites and the Fairfield Inn & Suites. The Marriott branded hotels face each other and work as a compound with a collection of pools, including a low-temperature hot tub that was safe for our toddler to play in. Especially in April, we needed a warm pool!

Moab Marriott - Best places to stay in Moab with a toddler or baby

If you visit when it’s warmer, there are waterfalls, and splash pad for kids. These Marriott hotels are on the edge of Moab, so it’s not an easy walk to town from there, but they are even closer to the entrance of Arches National Park.

Moab Marriott Where to stay in Moab with toddler or baby

For dinner at the Marriott, we found that ordering pizza or DoorDash was convenient, and we could eat at one of the outside tables while our toddler attempted to play jenga or ping pong. If you are traveling with older kids, extended family, or friends, then the Springhill Suites or Fairfield Inn & Suites might suit your needs.

Camping and Camper Vans

While we did not camp on this trip, there is a KOA in Moab and options for renting camper vans, too. If you have a napping infant or toddler, a campervan could come in handy for midday naps, and still allow parents to take turns exploring the park on their own or with older children.

Both Outdoorsy and Escape Campervans are well-known companies that rent out of Salt Lake City.

Get our best tips for camping with a baby, then read more on planning a Utah Road Trip with a Toddler.

Getting Around Moab and Arches National Park with a baby or toddler

You will need a car to visit Moab and Arches National Park. We found an affordable car rental in Salt Lake City that would allow us to carry around a stroller.

Unlike other national parks (Zion, Yosemite, Glacier, and Acadia to name a few), Arches NP lacks a shuttle bus system, so you will need to drive yourself through the 52 miles of the park’s roadways.

Downtown Moab boasts a lot of free parking, both on the streets, and near a centrally located playground. We found that it was easy to find a parking spot, leave our car, and do all the walking for meals with our toddler in her travel stroller.

Sand Dune Arch Trail with a toddler in Arches National Park

Don’t miss our tips on road trips with a toddler.

Best Things to do in Moab & Arches National Park with a Baby or Toddler

Arches National Park with a Baby or Toddler

Arches National Park is home to a massive concentration of beautiful sandstone arches. Of the 200 arches in the park, many are easily visible from a short hike, which makes Arches the perfect place to visit with a toddler or baby.

Insider Tip: Between April 1, 2023 and October 31, 2023 reservations are required for your vehicle to enter Arches National Park every day between 7 am and 4 pm. You will want to make a Recreation.gov account and/or download the APP in advance to purchase your timed entry ticket.

Toddler at Sand Dune Arch - Arches NP

Cars can back-up for a while at Arches, as there is only one entrance station. If you’ve been to other national parks, you will know that this is very uncommon.

Be prepared to go early, or be prepared to wait in line to have your ID, timed entry ticket, and park pass checked. We found that because Arches only has one entrance, that the wait times were much longer than other parks we have visited, like Acadia National Park with a baby.

Best toddler-friendly hikes in Arches National Park

Arches National Park is a great place for hiking with toddlers. There are some fun trails that your toddler can hike all on their own! Here are some of the best toddler-friendly hikes in Arches National Park.

If you are hiking with a baby or kids that can go longer distances, there are more great hikes listed in this post on Arches National Park with kids.

Sand Dune Arch Trail ( 0.4 mile/ 0.6 km) (108 feet elevation gain)

For our first visit to Arches, we wanted to let our toddler stretch out her legs and enjoy some running around. The perfect hike for this was the short walk to the Sand Dune Arch.

Hiking Sand Dune Arch Trail with toddlers (Arches National Park)

The hike will take less than 10 minutes at toddler pace, and then you can explore around the arch. There is no elevation change, and the sand is soft and cool, which will make any toddler happy to explore. The hike is through deeper sand, so you may have to pick your kiddo up for a break, but it feels like a natural playground that was made just for little kids.

Sand Dune Arch Trail - best hikes with toddlers in Arches National Park

Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch Trail (1 mile/ 1.6 km) (196 feet elevation gain)

This trail is even easier for toddlers and parents because the trails are more compacted, and you’re not struggling through deep sand. At an adult’s pace, you can complete this in less than 30-minutes.

Pine Tree Arch Trail - toddler friendly hikes in Arches National Park

We did bring our carrier on this hike for our toddler, and she happily took a nap, which allowed us to take pictures and explore a little more. There are some side trails, and other viewpoints, so you could easily spend an hour enjoying this area.

Toddler in Backpack carrier - Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch Trail Arches NP

The Windows Loop Trail (1.2 miles/1.9 km) (154 feet elevation gain)

In the Windows section of Arches National Park, you can find a large concentration of arches in a short amount of time (about 30 minutes). This is also one of the places in the park where the view from the parking lot is also quite lovely.

Windows Trail in Arches NP with a toddler

According to the NPS, the Double Arch trail is considered “barrier free” because the trail has a hard packed surface, which means you could attempt to roll a stroller out here. However, there are some slopes and a sandy surface at the end of the trail.

Windows Trail - easy toddler hikes in Arches National Park

I would recommend a baby carrier instead, one with an easy in and out. On other parts of the trail, there are many small stairs that lead up to North Window Arch, which a toddler could probably navigate.

Delicate Arch (3 miles / 4.8 km round-trip)

The Delicate Arch is iconic. It’s what everyone thinks of when they envision Arches National Park–It’s even on the state’s license plate. Hiking to the Delicate Arch with an infant or toddler is completely doable, but you need to be well-prepared. (And this is a hike that we would not attempt in the summer’s heat with a kid.)

We got up early in the morning (remember to make a reservation to get into the park at 7am). The parking lot for the trailhead at Wolfe Ranch can and will fill up.

For our 2-year-old, we packed for this hike in a few ways: we brought extra drinks, diapers, snacks, two carriers, and a safety harness. The Deuter pack was our main carrier for the steady uphill part of the trail, but we also let our daughter get out and walk around in the downhills and less intense parts of the trail.

Don’t forget a toddler snack cup! Your toddler can snack while you hike!

Hiking to Delicate Arch with a toddler

Once we got to the Delicate Arch, we knew that our daughter needed a little freedom, but that we had to keep her safe. Enter the toddler harness. The area around Delicate Arch is crowded and there are some larger drop offs, so to keep our 2-year-old from running off while she had her snack and we took turns hiking out to the arch, we found that the harness was quite helpful.

Delicate arch with a toddler

One the way back down, we alternated between letting her walk and using a soft-structured toddler carrier.

At the bottom near the parking lot, you can view petroglyphs, rock carvings left by the Ute Native Americans. Historians estimate that these carvings were created between 1650 and 1850 AD.

Other Things to do in Moab with a Toddler

Boating on the Colorado River with a Toddler (with Moab Jett)

If you need a break from hiking and are looking to spend some time on the Colorado River, then look no further than Moab Jett. For the high-speed Adventure Jet Boat Tour, your children have to be at least 4-years-old. But, we signed up for the Scenic Jet Boat Tour, and this was perfect for our 2-year-old daughter.

Before the excursion, we met up with Moab Jett at their location on Main Street. We were able to use the restrooms, and got a briefing. Then, since we wanted to keep our daughter in her carseat, we followed the van out to the river. This was about a 30 minute drive.

Moab Jett - things to do in Moab with Toddlers

Once we reached the boat launch, there were bathrooms again, and we were transferred over to our boat. We spent some time speeding through the river, and other times stopped to relax as we made our way down the river towards Canyonlands National Park. Our daughter enjoyed it so much that after yelling and screaming with joy, she fell asleep for most of the one-hour tour.

View from River - Moab Jett

We were weary of taking our toddler on a speedboat, but the captain was so considerate and kept checking on us. Even though we went out on a sunny day, it was cold and windy on the water, so we would recommend a base layer, mid layer, and then a third waterproof layer for your excursion if you are visiting in the fall or spring.

Browse Moab Boat Tours

Back of Beyond Book Store

If you’re looking for a souvenir of your trip to Moab and Arches National Park, then what could be better to grab for your infant or toddler than a book? This small, independent bookstore has a lovely children’s room in the back. We were delighted to find books about the desert, pop-up books, and some books that were signed by local authors.

We visited on our second to last day when we were getting quite bored with the three books we packed for our week-long trip.

Moab Back of Beyond Bookstore - things to do with toddlers in Moab

Where to Eat in Moab with a Baby or Toddler

Moab is easy to navigate, and in the center of town, you will find Main Street with nearly everything you could need. Here are some of the places we found helpful when traveling with our toddler in Moab.

Moab Coffee Roasters

This was a great place to stop for a coffee, latte, tea, or smoothie; the shop even has its own parking lot. You can also grab a bagel or a pastry, though the selection was better elsewhere. Beware- they also sell chocolate and candy, so your toddler may be a bit tempted while you wait in line. There are a few tables for sitting if you want to sit for a bit..

Doughbird

For a sweet treat and coffee, you can visit Doughbird on Main Street and grab one of their very creative donuts. After 11am, they also serve fried chicken and waffle fries. The inside is very small, so you will need to grab and go.

Doughbird-1

Love Muffin Cafe

This is another breakfast and lunch spot that was very popular. Love Muffin boasts panini, burritos, and avocado toast for breakfast. For lunch, this is a sandwich-lover’s heaven; try the BLT, Banh Mi, or Cuban sandwich.

Sweet Cravings Bakery + Bistro

This bakery is located as you are driving in to Moab from Arches; that means it’s less busy than other places in the center of down, and it also has its own parking lot. We stopped here for an early lunch one day; there’s a good variety of breakfast food, salads, sandwiches, paninis, wraps, and sweet treats. It was so good that we ordered a little extra to go for later on.

Moab Food Truck Park

Why do we LOVE a good food truck park? We find for a family of diverse and picky eaters, that this is the perfect place for us to all grab a meal. The toddler can eat in the stroller, your baby can nap, and mom and dad can each get exactly what they want.

Out of all the food trucks, we found a long line and delicious lunch at Quesadilla Mobilla (food truck) which is open daily from 11am-5pm.

What to Bring for Arches National Park with a Toddler or Baby

Stroller and Carrier

For our trip to Arches National Park with our toddler we brought two carriers and a toddler travel stroller.

For hiking with a toddler, we alternated between a structured hiking carrier, like our favorite Deuter backpack carrier, and a soft-structured pack, like a LilleBaby toddler carrier.

Using toddler carrier for Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch Trail - toddler hikes in Arches National Park

For the stroller, we flew with our City Mini Stroller for walking around Moab. I would not recommend a stroller for trudging through the sand in Arches National Park.

Aside from your baby travel essentials or toddler travel essentials, here are other items that you should pack for Arches with a Baby or Toddler:

Canyonlands National Park with Toddler

Other Baby/Toddler Specifics

You can get everything you need in Moab. Where to buy diapers and baby products in Moab:

Grocery Store: City Market

City Market is a large store with everything you could need for your baby or toddler. We were able to stock up on diapers, pouches, and snacks midway through our trip.  

If you rent a car in Salt Lake City, then you can also make a quick stop at the Target on the drive to Moab. We found Provo to be a great place for errands. The Target is located at: 1290 N State St, Provo, UT 84604

Playground: Swanny City Park

We spent many afternoons at this accessible playground near the center of town. We think it’s great for kids of all ages, and there are restrooms nearby.  It is also next to the Moab Recreation & Aquatic Center, which has both indoor and outdoor pools. Unfortunately, the outdoor pools were not open during our visit in April.

Moab Swanny City Park Playground

Extending your trip to Moab & Arches National Park

Canyonlands National Park or Dead Horse Point State Park

Canyonlands National Park sign with snow

If you have time and fancy a drive, then we would recommend a trip up to Dead Horse Point State Park and/or Canyonlands National Park.

We visited both locations when there was a fresh layer of snow on the ground. I would plan to drive for at least 40 minutes, and bring water, food, and snacks. Other than a visitor’s center gift shop, we did not see much else on our journey from Moab.

Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park with a Toddler

Dead Horse Point and Canyonlands are also at a higher elevation, so be prepared for the temperature to drop. I would not consider either of these places to be as toddler-friendly as Arches National Park, but if you have an infant in a carrier, or you are willing to use a harness for your toddler, then they are perfectly safe to visit.

Read more on visiting Canyonlands National Park with Kids.

Canyonlands National Park

Salt Lake City

If you wish, spend a night in Salt Lake City at the beginning or end of your trip. We spent a night outside of SLC before flying home and found the Loveland Living Aquarium to be great for a morning with our toddler.

Loveland Aquarium

We stayed at the Hyatt Place in Lehi because it was affordable, had a heated rooftop pool, and was within walking distance of restaurants and shops.

We found Arches National Park with a toddler a wonderful family vacation! With easy toddler-friendly hikes in Arches NP plus plenty to do around Moab and Canyonlands National Park nearby, you’ll have trouble fitting it all in.

Arches National Park with a Baby or Toddler

This post was written & edited by:

Hiking with Baby in Acadia National Park
Christina
Website | + posts

Christina and her husband, Justin, were raised on the east coast of the U.S., but have an affinity for the west, and especially America's National Parks. When they welcomed their baby girl into the world they wanted to introduce her to many National Parks in her lifetime, both in the US and abroad. They continue to travel with their (now) toddler in tow, and introduce her to as many parks in the United States and abroad as possible.

info@babycantravel.com | Website | + posts

Celine Brewer is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's helped millions of new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade. In addition to writing on her baby travel blog, she has shared her expertise on traveling with a baby or toddler by contributing to articles about traveling with a baby with the Washington Post, USA Today, the Lonely Planet magazine and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.

Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.

Read more about Celine Brewer.