The Magic Of The Delicate Arch Hike

 

Perhaps the most iconic structure of Arches National Park, and all of Utah for that matter, is Delicate Arch.  No trip to Arches National Park would be complete without a Delicate Arch Hike.

Delicate Arch Hike

The world-famous Delicate Arch is one of the West’s most enduring symbols.  At over 60 feet tall this massive arch only gets more impressive once you walk beneath it.  The hike itself is also great and features a large slick-rock ridgeline that you’ll walk as you follow cairns.  Don’t forget to look behind you because the views are rediculous.

Distance

3.2 mi round-trip

time

1.5 hrs

elevation

670 ft

season

year-round (our favorite time is winter)

For more information about Arches National Park and why Winter is the best time to visit check out,

Comprehensive arches national park guide

Best Time To Hike Delicate Arch

If you can hit Arches National Park in the off-season you are in for a real treat.  Even mid-day you probably won’t have more than a dozen people to share this spot with.  Compare that to the hundreds you might see mid-summer.

Sunrise is your best bet to skip the crowds and makes for some great picture taking, although I do think sunset is the best if you’re after that perfect shot.

My favorite time is late evening and to pack yourself dinner and stay well into the night.  The stars are tremendous and the night photography options are endless.

 

For winter hiking tips and a packing list check out, 

Hiking Grand Canyon In Winter – Packing List

delicate arch hike

Delicate Arch Hike Trailhead

The trailhead is just before the Delicate Arch Viewpoint and the large parking lot has restrooms available but no water.

The hike has almost no shade so plan accordingly and bring plenty of water and sunscreen.  Reason number 1-million to visit the arches in the Winter.  Did you know Arches National Park sees up to 3,000 vehicles a day during the busy summer months!  

The trail starts off with a bang at the Wolfe Ranch.  The historic homestead building is just a short walk from the parking lot (we’re talking a couple hundred feet). 

Here’s a quick video we put together from our last Delicate Arch Hike.

Wolfe Ranch – Arches National Park

In 1898 the Civil War Veteran John Wesley Wolfe left Ohio in search of drier climate.  With his oldest son at his side the two settled this 100+ acre property along Salt Wash.

delicate arch hike

Today you can get a glimpse of what life was like over 100 years ago.  The one-room humble dwelling and its root cellar are remarkably well preserved.  While you can’t walk in the structure you can easily have a look inside and walk about the surrounding area.

 

Check out these other great Arches National Park Hikes

7 Not To Miss Arches National Park Hikes

Delicate Arch Petroglyphs

As you continue down the well-maintained trail you’ll cross the Salt Wash bridge.  The Delicate Arch Trail continues straight but be sure to hang a left and check out some really well-preserved petroglyphs.

delicate arch hike

At just 0.2 miles you’ll reach the rock wall and get up close and personal with the petroglyphs.  Continue east along the wall and you’ll be rejoined with the main trail in about a tenth of a mile.

After a short up and down you’ll start winding your way through a desert landscape full of red-rock and desert plants.  Add some blue sky or a dusting of snow and the contrast is stunning.

delicate arch hike

From here you’ll start working up a massive slickrock ridge with cairns marking the way.  Don’t forget to occasionally look back, the views are great.  After a short staircase etched into stone you’ll top out in a narrow wash. You’ll then head right and work your way behind a massive sandstone fin as you follow the rock path.

delicate arch hike

The best part about this hike is how you never see Delicate Arch coming.  The anticipation starts to get to you and then bam!

As you walk up the final pitch you’ll have a massive wall to your right.  Eventually, that wall gives way and reveals Delicate Arch.

delicate arch hike

The arch sits in this natural amphitheater-shaped bowl that begs for you to just sit back and let the warm rock sooth your aching muscles.  Whatever you do, don’t be in a rush.  Plan on spending some time here.  It’s a rather special place.

One of America's most iconic hikes, Delicate Arch Hike should not be missed.  Everything you need to know to conquer this majestic hike any time of the year.  Arches National Park and Moab Utah are rich with tremendous hikes.