Arches National Park Backpacking Packing List

The following list is designed for a non-guided backpacking trip in Arches National Park. (For information about visiting the park, see our guide.) The list includes some environment-specific options for the park’s desert backcountry. If you’re going with a commercial group, check with the guide company to see what items they provide.

Included in this list are the Ten Essential Systems you should have on every backcountry trip: navigation; sun protection; insulation; illumination; first-aid supplies; fire starter; repair kit and tools; nutrition; hydration; emergency shelter. To learn more, see our Ten Essentials article.


When it comes to backpacking in Arches, water is a special consideration. Natural sources of water are few and far between. Water you might find in potholes is needed by wildlife and can be easily contaminated by skin oils, salt, sunscreen or soap. Packing in all you’ll need will make your time in the backcountry safer and simpler. One to two gallons per day is recommended, depending on your activity level and the temperature. That’s just for drinking. For hygiene and cooking, you’ll need more.

The backpacking pack you choose will need to have enough space for your whole water supply.

Clothing and Footwear

In the desert environment of Arches, sun protection is essential. Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing and a wide-brimmed hat. Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin. Because the temperature in the park can change as much as 40 degrees in 24 hours, you should bring enough layers to adjust.

Personal Items


Quantity varies depending on activity and length of trip. Assuming you’re packing all water for your trip, keep in mind the trade-off between the water you need to hydrate dried foods and the weight of canned and fresh foods.

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