Delicate Arch Hike

Trail Map | Photos | Article

Delicate Arch is very picturesque - it has become a Utah icon and it is perhaps the world's most famous arch. You can see it in the distance by taking a short stroll from the Delicate Arch Viewpoint parking area, but the best way to see this natural wonder is to hike right up under it. The hike makes a wonderful little adventure suitable for all ages.

Delicate Arch

Location: East/central area in Arches National Park
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 3 miles (round trip)
Elevation gain: 480 feet

Weather: This trail can be hiked year-round. Mid-summer afternoons can be very hot but hiking is usually pleasant in on summer mornings and in the evening. Hiking after dark would be dangerous here. Spring and fall are perfect seasons. Winter days are often mild and pleasant, but some winter days will be downright cold so watch the weather forecasts.

Other Factors: Pit toilets are available at the trailhead. Drinking water is not available so carry some with you, in your vehicle and while hiking.

Route Descriptions: The trailhead is at Wolfe Ranch, accessible via a paved spur from the main park loop road. Signs make it easy to find. The parking lot is usually full during tourist season and so you may have to park along the access road.

At Wolfe Ranch there is a panel of Native American rock art, attributed to the Utes, which is worth gazing at for a few minutes. A signed spur trail leads to it.

The trail slopes gradually upward as you hike toward the arch. The total elevation gain is only 480 feet, but it seems steeper than that as you climb up the slickrock ridge. There is no shade on that section and so the most pleasant hiking is during morning and evening hours. Midday hikes can be very hot during summer. You will want to wear a hat, use sunscreen and carry water regardless of the season.

Steps have been carved into the sandstone to make it easy to get up some steep places. In one spot the trail follows a shelf on the side a solid-rock mountain, a sheer cliff falling off one side. The trail is wide and smooth, and walking is easy, but some people get nervous because of the cliff. Just hang onto your kids and stay away from the edge.

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