Why you should hike to Utah’s icon — Delicate Arch

Why you should hike to Utah’s icon — Delicate Arch

(Faith Heaton Jolley/KSL)

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ARCHES NATIONAL PARK — If you have not yet witnessed the splendor of Utah’s most famous landmark, you need to plan a trip to Arches National Park. Delicate Arch is on our license plate for a reason — you won’t be disappointed.

Hikers can park in the Wolfe Ranch parking area to start the ascent to Delicate Arch. However, you should arrive before 8 a.m. to get a spot. It seems early, but trust me, those parking spots fill up quickly and the hike is much more enjoyable during the cool part of the day. There is almost no shade during the hike to Delicate Arch, and so hiking during the heat of the day is not recommended.

The first part of the hike winds along a gravel trail and is relatively flat for the first quarter mile. However, the trail does get steep in some areas, and so feel free to take it slow and allow time for breaks. A large portion of the hike is stretched across the smooth, slickrock of the mountain where the trail is marked with rock cairns. The trail maintains a steady incline until hikers reach the top of the rock face and the dirt trail resumes.

Hike Info:
  • Distance: 3 miles roundtrip
  • Duration: 2 to 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Elevation gain: 480 feet

The trail then winds along a rock ledge with a steep drop-off for about 200 yards. Hikers should stay close to the right side of the trail, near the mountain wall. Then the trail opens up and hikers come into view of the magnificent Delicate Arch.

Hikers can walk along the slickrock and take pictures underneath the arch, but be courteous of others who may also be taking photos. Since the Delicate Arch is such a famous landmark, it gets a lot of visitors. Hikers should also be sure to walk carefully out to the arch because the rock face can be slick and the path to the arch is located on a slant.

The arch is awe-inspiring and something that every Utahn should see in person. On the return hike, make sure to take the .25-mile detour and stop by the historic Wolfe Ranch house and also check out the petroglyphs.


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Faith Heaton Jolley


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