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Delicate Arch Trail

Intermediate
  4.7 ( 227 ) Favorite

Trail

3.1 mile 5.0 kilometer out and back
Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 567' 173 m
Descent: -567' -173 m
High: 4,816' 1,468 m
Low: 4,307' 1,313 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 32% (18°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Trail shared by Megan W

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

Megan W

Features Views

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.

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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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Flora & Fauna, History & Background

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Check-Ins

Oct 8, 2019
Tasha Alexander
Sep 29, 2019
Julian Dobbie
bv 8. b o
Sep 28, 2019
Ada Hui Xu
Sep 27, 2019
Lanny N Donna Holbrook
Sep 22, 2019
Abby Gray
Sep 18, 2019
Anita Peebles
6h 10m
Sep 17, 2019
Karen McWee

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 227 votes

#34

Overall
  4.7 from 227 votes
5 Star
72%
4 Star
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3 Star
1%
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Featured Hike Rankings

#7

in Utah

#34

Overall
167 Views Last Month
12,179 Since Mar 5, 2015
Intermediate

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58%
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Photos

Arches National Park, UT. Getting some early season hiking in!
Apr 17, 2016 near Moab, UT
Delicate Arch. Canyonlands National Park, Utah.
May 13, 2016 near Moab, UT
Moon with Delicate Arch
Nov 2, 2017 near Moab, UT
Delicate Arch.
Feb 1, 2016 near Moab, UT
Delicate Arch in Winter - Worth the hike
Jan 5, 2018 near Moab, UT
The ledge here is very do-able and certainly unique
Mar 8, 2015 near Moab, UT

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