Delicate Arch

Distance1.93 mi*
Elevation Gain587 ft
Only a one way trip stats due to battery failure
My Time56 min*
DifficultyModerate
Only a One Way Trip stats due to battery failure
Closest TownMoab
Food NearbyMoab Diner

Delicate Arch

Along with the Devils Garden, Delicate Arch is a must see hike if you are able at Arches National Park. I was misled by some people who were saying it was an easy hike. While not hard, it is a bit challenging but the views are worth it.

Getting Started

The Delicate Arch trail starts at the trailhead which is down, conveniently, Delicate Arch Road. For those not up for the hike there is an Overlook that provides views as well.

The hike starts past the remains of an old ranch house with an info placard and then climbs up a small hill before the big climb. The ranch house was fascinating to me thinking that people could live with such an amazing back yard!

The Remains of an old ranch house on the Delicate Arch trail.  The wood is in bad shape and it looks like it could fall over at any moment but it made me think of how amazing having this as a back yard would be.

The Big Climb

The biggest hurdle to clear on the way to Delicate Arch is the half mile, 300 foot of elevation gain climb up a giant section of slick rock. For those of you who haven’t walked up a rock face before you are in for a treat.

The giant slab of Slick Rock you will have to climb to get to Delicate Arch.  The slab runs for about a half mile and is completely exposed with only a few small bushes growing on it.

If you look really closely you can see people walking all the way up to the top of this rock. A couple of things about hiking up a rock like this. If you have good hiking shoes, footing shouldn’t be a problem if it is dry out. You will be totally exposed to the elements and in Utah that usually means sun and wind so make sure you are protected. Finally, there isn’t really a path. There is a bit of worn rock that is discolored that you can follow but mostly you need to follow people and find your way.

I took several breaks on the way up and the higher you go the better the views get!

The view back into the park from about 3/4 of the way up to Delicate Arch.  The view has rolling hills and tall bare rock wallls.

The Top

When you get to the top of the Slick Rock you are probably expecting to see the arch! At least I was but I was disappointed because once you make it to the top you have about another half mile to go before the prize. The top of the trail does flatten out for a bit and it gets you right next to some stunning rock formations.

The top section has large rock formations next to the flat rock trails on the way to Delicate Arch. The rock formations are full of holes like a block of swiss cheese and tower over the base.

Again not much for trail at this point but a general direction and a few cairns on the ground to follow. You are getting close though!

Delicate Arch

At this point of the hike my phone, camera, and watch were all drained of battery and I wanted a picture of the arch. I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of the narrow, maybe 4 foot wide, walkway you need to take to get to the arch. It is pretty easy to make it up when the weather is nice but it has a 25-30% grade so if there is ice on the trail watch out! It will also be very busy at most times so you will have to pass people on the walkway. One side hugs up to a rock wall but the other does not. You have been warned.

The Arch itself is pretty amazing. it is a perfect circle sitting on the edge of flat rock. It almost looks like a portal to another dimension you would see in a sci-fi movie.

Delicate Arch sitting on the edge at the end of the hike.  The arch is sitting like a gateway to the cliffs edge and has no real business being in the location it is in.

It really is stunning. The surrounding rocks angle downward towards the arch like an amphitheater so you come in above the arch. Some brave folks got a little closer but this was close enough for me!

The good thing about this hike, until the end is how wide all of the surfaces to walk on are so you can go at your own pace and not worry too much about being someone’s way. It makes it a little bit more enjoyable.

Elevation and Distance

***My phone battery died when I got to the top of this hike the stats are only for a one way trip.

If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 1.93 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 587 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 4,863 feet. I was also moving for a total of 56 minutes for the one way trip.

Effort

This one was interesting on the effort front. The hardest part is the middle section which is a half mile walk up a giant section of slick rock. This is a totally exposed walk rock without much for switchbacks to break up the elevation gain. My legs were pretty tired from doing Devil’s Garden right before this which I think caused it to be tougher than it was. That being said, it is a challenge if you aren’t prepared. I think a good pair of hiking shoes with good grip to help you on the rock would be suggested.

Terrain

Half of this trail is hard packed dirt trail which is easy to traverse. The other half is walking up the slickrock rock face which isn’t terrible if you have the proper footwear. When you get near the arch there is a steep narrow trail that will show any fear of heights you may have. I think a good pair of hiking shoes with good grip to help you on the rock would be suggested.

Access

The Delicate Arch trail is located off the Delicate Arch Road spur about half way down the Main Park Road in Arches National Park. There is parking for about 30 cars and some overflow for larger vehicles. There is a $30 entrance fee for private vehicle to get in the park and a yearly park pass will work for entry. Further down the road is an overlook if you don’t feel comfortable climbing the trail.

Wrapping up Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch was one of the more stunning arches that I saw at Arches National Park. It is a stand alone arch with really no business being where it is. The hike up to it can get a bit rough, especially as you are exposed to the elements at all times.

If you can make it up the slick rock it is definitely worth the challenging hike. If you are not comfortable with that, take advantage of the overlook viewing area as well. There is also a wall of Petroglyphs on this trail but since my camera was dead I wasn’t able to bring them to you.

If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 9.55 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 1614 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 9,434 feet. I was also moving for a total of 4 hours and 3 minutes.

3 thoughts on “Delicate Arch”

  1. Pingback: The Arches - Fat Man Little Trail

  2. I’m trying to picture how people lived in that cabin, especially with no water seeming to be around, and even where did the wood to build it come from. Have to admire their bravery.

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