Hike to Delicate Arch, Utah: Delicate Arch the world’s most famous natural arches see millions of visitors each year.
Located in Utah Arches national park, home to more than 2000 arches, Delicate Arch stands out as a symbol of the state of Utah and one of the most recognized geological features in the world. The free-standing and magnificently alone- seems to defy gravity in its size and structure.
A place like arches is not necessarily a big park but the horizons are tremendous. It’s a place where you can stand on a rock and see 40 miles. This is a place where you stretch out your eyes, your imagination and take in the vastness of these uniquely beautiful stone landscapes.
Located along the most dynamic hiking trails within Arches National Park, Delicate Arch had more names in its history from Bloomers Arch”, “Marys Bloomers”, “Old Maids Bloomers”, “Pants Crotch”, “Salt Wash Arch”, and “School Marms Pants”. The current name of the arch was given by Frank Beckwith. The name Delicate appeared in a magazine article in 1934. Where a writer describes how the arch is the most delicately chiseled arch in the entire park.
What makes Delicate Arch popular?
A symbol of Utah, the 52 foot tall Delicate Arch sitting atop a natural rock amphitheater from which there are sweeping views across the park. The mesmerizing salmon-colored stone standing still, on the edge of a huge sandstone bowl. To get to this formation, you have to travel one of the strenuous hikes.
A brief history of the arch
The story of arches formation is around 65 million years ago. The Delicate Arch is formed of Entrada stone which dates back to the Jurassic period between 180 and 140 million years ago. While the arches are younger forming some thousands of years ago. The area of the arches is grounded by a salt bed. The salt layer is a thousand feet thick and deposited in the paradox basin of the Colorado plateau million years ago. Eventually, with the laps of million years, the sea evaporated turning the sea into a deposit of debris and rocks. Erosion and windblown create the formation of the salmon-colored Entrada stone layer.
However, as truly beautiful as the sunset view, views on the way are phenomenal. But the forces that created these unique formations of stones that stand like a king in the sand, the same forces will be the reason for the collapse.
Hike to Delicate Arch
Hike to Delicate Arch is a 3 miles round trip with 400 feet of elevation gain. This is a short journey with no shadow throughout the trail. That is why it is recommended to start your journey early in the morning so that you don’t have to suffer the heat of the sun on a hot summer day. Hike to a delicate start from the trailhead.
To reach the trailhead, drive north for 11 miles which will take you to the park on the road. Keep driving straight until you see the right turn to the delicate Arch and Wolfe ranch. After turning right you have to cover another 1.2 miles, which will bring you to the parking area where you can park your vehicle. Starting your journey early will make sure space for your vehicle to park.
Your journey starts from the trailhead. In the beginning, the trail level up and you have to climb up the hills. Just after that, there is an ascent on the Slickrock slope, though the hardest part of the hike is this part(Slickrock slope). Throughout your journey you will find no shade, so make sure to carry enough water with you to avoid dehydration and always start early in summers. You get a glimpse of wildlife at starting if you see collared lizards which are common in that area. You don’t have to worry about them, they are always after their prey but still avoid being too close.
As you pass the Slickrock slope, the trail becomes even and lands you to the section of domes, these are huge sandstone domes you will also see the cairns along the trail which are used to mark the trail. As the place is in Utah you will see a lot of reddish soil and stones which creates beautiful pieces of natural architecture. After walking for a few minutes you will see the frame arch( it is also known as Twisted Doughnut Arch). As the name suggests this arch makes a beautiful natural frame to click a selfie or photo on your device. You can take a break here and explore the place and clock photos on your devices, but be careful while climbing the arch.
As your journey continues further, the trail follows a ledge that is attached to the Rockwall which goes for a few meters. As you pass this, the trail stops at a destination which is a delicate arch. And as soon as you see the glimpse of the arch you will see people around the arch taking selfies and capturing the moment. The arch is beautiful and you will know why it is so famous after capturing the beauty in your eyes.
The best time to capture the arch beauty is during sunset which creates the panoramic view and reflects the reddish light on the arc. The other perfect time to capture the arch beauty is the time of sunrise. This time is perfect if you start your journey early, though the view is different from that of sunset. The place is crowded during sunset because of the view, but morning is also the best option if you want to avoid the crowd. You can also explore the beauty of the delicate arch from the side where you find a big round circle more like a bowl.
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More nearby highlights in Arches national park
Arches Double O arch
The second largest arch after the landscape arch of course double O arch sits at the end of devils primitive loop. As the name suggests, the double O arch trail features the two arches. Both arches are opposite of one another, as one is 71 feet tall and the other is smaller and only stands above 21 feet. The hike to Double O arch is moderate and spectacular. Glimpses of dark angels in the background increase the beauty of the place.
One of the challenging hikes that you can conquer with a ranger or by getting an individual permit. The hike to Fiery Furnace is full of challenges from climbing hills to walking on narrow ledges and loose sand. Once you have entered in for hiking you must complete the hike because the trail is similar to a maze. While conjuring the hike make sure you have the proper equipment such as hiking shoes and gear because there are some areas where you have to push yourself and climb which demands good grip and proper gear.
NAVAJO AND PARTITION ARCHES
Hike to Navajo and partition arches starts from the devil’s garden trailhead. The trail ends at the landscape arch. After that, the primitive trail extends and leads to a spur trail which is around 24 miles long trail from the primitive trailhead to partition arches and covers 27 miles distance from the primitive trailhead to Navajo arches. Both Navajo and partition arches are beautiful and in some ways unique from each other. The Navajo arch is more deep and heavy, on the other hand, partition arches are more like a window arch.
One of the crowdest trails in the arches national park landscape arch invites a lot of hikers around the world every year. The reason behind this is that it is the biggest arch in the whole national park. The hike to the landscape arch is very easy as most of the trail is flat and wide. If you want to avoid the crowd factor then make sure to start your journey early in the morning.
Best time to visit the Delicate Arch
Planning a visit to a delicate arch? Yes, then you need to take care of some important points. Timings are the main concern wherever you plan your visit like you won’t like to visit your relatives at night. The same goes with planning your hike to a delicate arch.
You don’t want any kind of interruptions like visiting the site in extreme conditions like solar heat directly falling on you, making you suffer while hiking in extremely hot weather.
So, what are the popular seasons to visit the delicate arch?
To be specific, the seasons which are considered best in any normal hiking area with moderate climatic conditions are spring and fall. So, hiking in Delicate Arch is best in these seasons.
And if seen month-wise then from April to May and from mid-September to October’s end are the best time to visit the delicate arch.
The day weather conditions are normal and you can opt for normal clothes like T-shirts but the night temperatures are cold, so pack your gears and clothes accordingly.
As there is no restriction on visiting the site in spring or fall, many people opt for hiking this place in winters or summers to avoid a large crowd. But they need to deal with heavy snowfalls and extremely hot weather.
Even if you plan to visit delicate arch after May then try to avoid hiking during midday. You can do early hiking or can hike during sunset as the temperature slows down. The extreme heat will be harmful and can cause dehydration and with that much hot weather, hiking will just look like a dream to you.
The night weather is cold and freezing especially at end of October so make sure to pack you clothes accordingly.
So, it is advised to plan your visit in moderate climatic conditions to avoid any mishap. For more latest information you can check on – nps.gov
How Long is the Delicate Arch Trail?
To get the peak of the Delicate Arch, you’ll need almost 2-3 hours with an elevation gain of 480 feet. The trail is a 3 mile round trip with an enormous view of the valleys.
Personally, we spent about 4 hours on the trail in total, including clicking pictures on every scenic viewpoint, gathering energy to move forward, and enjoying the everlasting beauty of the trail.
Generally, the journey is about 2-3 hours to completely hike the Delicate Arch.
The trail is filled with plenty of shady places to sit and relax and if you are in the summer season, you should use these places to avoid sun exposure and drink water. Dehydration is the primary problem any hiker faces on this trail, but if you are well equipped, you can enjoy the magnificent beauty of the trail.
Gear Guide For Delicate Arch Trail
Map of the area
You can easily get a map of the entire National park for few bucks. It will help you locate every great thing inside and park and this way you will not surely miss any good viewpoints. Also if in any case, you lost track, you can easily get on the right path with the help of the map.
Water is not available on the entire Delicate Arch trail. So make sure to pack yourself with plenty of water as the trail has zero shade spots. During the summer months the trail average temperature can rise up to 100 F, so without water, it will be difficult to hike this trail.
Make sure to pack yourself with a good pair of hiking shoes. The trail is an uneven, rocky surface that requires hiking boots to avoid your feet getting hurt.
Avoid flip-flops and slippery on this trail as the trail consist of various insects and animals.
Headlamp is very necessary if you are hiking this trail during sunset. Headlamps are very effective than flashlights, as they are handier. Hiking down during the night can be dangerous and also the trail also consist of lizards. So you should carry a headlamp in your small backpack. My favorite choice for any hiking during the night is The Black Diamond Spot 350 Headlamp. It is very affordable ( $40) and comes with bright light.
Although the trail is only 3 miles, it is filled with lizards that can cause trouble during your hiking. Also, the path is filled with pointy rocks and it would be foolish not to pack some bandaids in case of emergencies.
Get a small medical first aid kit with minimum supplies, to treat minor cuts, wounds, blisters, and sprays to protect against insects.
There is no shady place in the entire Delicate Arch trail with a temperature of above 100F. So, it’s great to pack sunscreen with a high SPF to protect your skin from harmful skin radiations and sunburn.
Hat & Sunglasses
If you are hiking this trail during the day, Hiking hats and Sunglasses should be carried. There are no shady sections of the entire trail and the temperature rises more than 100F. So, hats and sunglasses will help to save your face from direct sun exposure that burns your skin.
In this small hike, all your necessary equipment can be packed in a small daypack like water, snacks, sunglasses, first aid kit, etc.
It would be foolish to not carry a good camera on this amazing trail. This trail is filled with photogenic viewpoints where you can get a great picture to share your experiences on Instagram.
Best time to photograph Delicate arch
Sunset is the best time of day to photograph delicate arch. Very popular hike during sunset and sunrise to its absolutely amazing view of the natural stone arch.
The sunset warms up the delicate arch thus illuminating it more with red color during the sunset. Sunrise is also a good option, just the change of direction of rays falling on it will give you different photos.
Start your hiking as early as possible to avoid crowds as you don’t want to wait in line to get photographed at the famous natural stone arch i-e Delicate Arch.
We will suggest you start your hike before 9 am.
If there is the option of camping on your list then you can camp too. But for that, as there is only one campsite do your reservations for the same in advance so won’t miss the opportunity.