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How Accessible Is Accessible: The Windows Trail

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

Denise Vasquez Photography ©2023

Arches National Park has been on my bucket list for many years, and I’m happy to report, I finally made it!

If you read my blog about Balanced Rock, then you already know about my favorite accessible trail in the park! If you haven't read that blog, click HERE.

Arches is one of the most popular parks in the National Park System, so if you want to avoid crowds, visit the park off season, during the week, early in the morning or late afternoon & avoid going on the weekends! I found early November to be the perfect time of year to visit Arches National Park. The weather was perfect for hiking, and the park was not using their timed entry reservation system which is usually April 1st-October 31st.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, Arches National Park is usually open year-round, 24 hours a day and If you have a FREE Lifetime ACCESS PASS, be sure to have it ready with your photo ID when you’re entering the park. Don’t know about the ACCESS PASS available to disabled people, read about it in my blog here and inquire about it at the entry gate or at the visitor center.

Denise Vasquez Photography ©2023

Be sure to pack a lunch! There is no food anywhere in the park! There are so many areas to have a nice picnic surrounded by tranquility, nature and spectacular views! Be sure to dispose of your trash in the bins around the park, or pack it in & leave no trace!

Arches is not the kind of park you can fully explore in one day unless you're just driving around, so we broke up which areas we were going to hike into a few days.

Denise Vasquez Photography ©2023

It was amazing how each day, something new caught my eye while taking in the other worldly environment. The monuments looked different from every angle, especially at different times of the day. I really enjoyed not only being outdoors, but the tranquil environment surrounding me like a warm blanket on a cold winters night. There's nothing better than feeling at peace, while connecting with nature, and photographing the landscapes, monuments and trails.

Each day, while planning what trails to hit, we focused on the trails that were rated "Easy" or "Accessible". I would LOVE to know who is rating the trails, and who the trails are supposed to be "EASY" for, because personally, I did not find many of the trails that were rated "EASY" as being easy! Everyone has different abilities, so perhaps removing the word "EASY" and finding more elaborate ways to describe trails would be sufficient for a disabled person like me, or anyone with limitations, to determine for themselves whether a trail is "EASY" or not.

Denise Vasquez Photography ©2023

The Windows Trail is one of the most popular trails in the park, and one of my favorites! I was excited to see that the trail is rated "EASY" in the brochures because I've been wanting to explore, experience & photograph this trail for years! The nice thing is if you're just driving around the park, you can see this view right from the parking lot (shown in my photograph above).

There is an interpretive sign at the beginning of the trail with some data about the trail.

The trail is 1 mile up a gravel, sandy, rocky, dirt trail leading up to stairs. Now I think it's important to mention what the terrain is like, because as a disabled person who's used a wheelchair, rolling walker, walking sticks, and a cane...I can tell you that for someone with limited mobility, maneuvering up a slope, at high elevations, along terrain that has gravel, sand, or rocks is not an "EASY" task!

As you can see by my photograph below, there is a gradual slope heading up this trail. I took my time and stopped when I needed to rest, but honestly, I wish there were some benches along the way.

Denise Vasquez Photography ©2023

At the top of this gravel, dirt, rocky trail, you'll come upon stairs leading in different directions. The first set of stairs I ventured up offered a beautiful view of the North Window.

Denise Vasquez Photography ©2023

If you're feeling adventurous like my man Randy Martinez, you can climb the stairs to the top! We got lucky having the place all to ourselves to enjoy moments like this!

Denise Vasquez Photography ©2023

After taking in the views, and resting for a bit, we ventured along more stairs, while slowly maneuvering over sandy, rocky, uneven terrain making our way slowly to the second Arch on this trail called the South Window.

Denise Vasquez Photography ©2023

We headed back along the rocky, sandy, uneven terrain, towards the third Arch on this trail called Turret Arch.

Denise Vasquez Photography ©2023

As you can see by my photos, many parts of the trail are primitive. You'll find yourself hiking along sandy, rocky uneven terrain with stairs in multiple areas on all three parts of this trail.

Had I known all this in advance, I would've used my walking sticks that I left in the car! That's why I document and share my findings, so others can make informed decisions when traveling to parks attempting to do trails that are described as being "EASY".

Denise Vasquez Photography ©2023

As you're heading up more stairs to Turret Arch, you'll feel as though you're looking at a stargate portral leading you to another dimension.

Denise Vasquez Photography ©2023

Once you reach the top of this arch, whether you go back the same way you came, or venture down around the back of it, you'll find more stairs leading you down a primitive part of of this rocky, uneven, sandy, rocky trail.

Photo by Randy Martinez ©2023

This was the first time in years I hiked a trail like this with stairs. I'm here to tell you, this trail was not "EASY" for me, but I did it! Hiking, photographing & documenting this trail was a HUGE accomplishment for me, and I hope writing and sharing my discoveries in this blog helps others!

You can also watch a video I created while hiking this trail on TIKTOK HERE

♿️ There are restrooms in the parking area accessible to wheelchairs.

♿️ This photo experience is part of my Disabled Photographer Project & “How Accessible Is Accessible” ongoing series that I began over 3 years ago.

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