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Delicate Arch Trail

 122 votes

Length

3.1 Miles 5.0 Kilometers


Elevation

567' 173 m

Ascent

-567' -173 m

Descent

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

32%

Max Grade (18°)

4,816' 1,468 m

High

4,307' 1,313 m

Low

Conditions


All Clear 57 days ago
Dry - Completely, perfectly normal! History

Getting forecast...

Sure, you've seen the pictures, but an in-person visit to this über-classic arch is not to be missed

Megan W

Overview

Delicate Arch is a magnificent, free-standing arch recognized the world over. This trail to its base is fun-filled and unique- visiting petroglyphs and a smaller arch, climbing slickrock hillsides and traversing an exciting, exposed ledge.
Features: Views
Dogs: No Dogs

Need to Know

Just before you get to Delicate Arch, the trail goes along a rock ledge for about 200 yards. This part is not scary for those without an extreme fear of heights, but a stumble here could have consequences.

Description

It is a given that everyone wants to see the Delicate Arch with their own eyes, right? But not everyone has the same time available or physical abilities. So there are 3 good options:

1.) Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint Trail: short, flat, paved, wheelchairs OK.
2.) Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint Trail: moderate half mile climb to viewpoint on cliffs across from the arch
3.) Delicate Arch Trail: more strenuous, 3 mile round trip to the base of Delicate Arch (described in detail below)

This is a trail description for the Delicate Arch Trail (to the base of the arch): starting from the parking lot at Wolfe Ranch, head northeast on the wide trail over mostly level ground. Almost immediately on the left, you'll pass the Old Wolfe Ranch (log cabin, root cellar, and corral used in the late 1800's). A bridge over the overgrown Salt Wash brings you to the Petroglyph Interpretive Trail. This easy loop visits a small panel of carved Ute Indian petroglyphs thought to be created after these native people acquired horses in the 1600's.

Continue on the Delicate Arch trail through dry desert terrain, occasionally passing stunted trees or rock piles providing welcome shade. Take these rare opportunities when you can, there is hardly any shade on this trail. Start ascending up red dirt hillsides before arriving at enormous tan slickrock slabs. This part of the trail crosses open rock with the route marked only with cairns. Keep an eye out for these rock piles, but if you lose the trail it helps to look for others on the trail or simply head uphill- you are likely to come across the path again.

Finally, the grade eases a bit and you leave the crevassed slickrock behind to climb smooth sandstone on the final approach to the arch. Follow the airy stone ramp on a slight incline as it contours around the backside of an imposing rock tower. This exposed part lasts about 200 yards but the path surface is about 3 feet wide at it's narrowest, so don't let this discourage you from completing this superlative trail.

Emerge through a break in the formation to be dazzled by the Delicate Arch in all its glory. One of the best features of this trail is the surprise reveal saved for the very end! Delicate Arch presides over an amphitheater-like bowl that can become over-run with admirers. It used to be part of the upper Entradea sandstone fin before erosion and wind weathered away the sandstone to leave what we see today. When you are finished ogling the arch, retrace your steps back to Wolfe Ranch. Unless you are more observant than most, you likely missed Frame Arch just around the corner (on the main path to Delicate Arch). This is worth looking for on the return trip and is also a favorite place to frame pictures of Delicate Arch through its window.

Some words to the wise: take at least 1 quart (1 liter) of water per person, wear a hat, use sunscreen, take breaks. Visit early or late in the day if you want to avoid the crowds on this extremely popular trail. Late afternoon is thought to be the best time to photograph Delicate Arch for the best color. Note: no bikes allowed on this trail.

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Your Check-Ins

Check-Ins

May 19, 2018
Yang Sun
May 8, 2018
Gene Kemp
May 5, 2018
Ryan Lanzel
May 2, 2018
Sandy Oaks
Too many darned tourists, there are many other worthwhile arches with fewer people.
Apr 30, 2018
Gosia L.
Apr 29, 2018
Lauren Sully
Oh man. What a climb. Got off trail and ended up by the doughnut arch. But the backtrack to the arch was worth it.
Apr 28, 2018
Drey Rosenberg
3mi
Apr 24, 2018
Ivana Domingues
3mi

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 122 votes

#11

Overall
  4.6 from 122 votes
5 Star
70%
4 Star
26%
3 Star
2%
2 Star
2%
1 Star
0%
Rankings

#4

in Utah

#11

Overall
503 Views Last Month
7,419 Since Mar 5, 2015
Intermediate Intermediate

2%
26%
59%
12%
1%
0%
Rick Blair
Denver
Rick Blair   Denver
This has to be one of the best hikes in the Country, maybe the best? The reward to effort ratio is pretty high. Super touristy, I have done this hike about 8 times in different seasons and I plan on doing it again. Never dissappoints. Jun 19, 2017

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