The Delicate Arch Hiking Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Arches National Park. Located just outside of Moab, Utah, Arches National Park is home to over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, and the Delicate Arch is the most iconic.
This hike has been on my bucket list for a while and it was definitely a highlight of our American Southwest Road Trip Vacation.
Delicate Arch Hiking Trail
We arrived at Arches National Park shortly after 7am but had to wait to enter the park due to construction. It was closer to 8am when we arrived at the Delicate Arch parking lot… and it was full by the time we were ready to hit the trail. So, going early is important to (try to) beat the crowds and get a decent parking spot.
The hike itself is moderate to difficult. It’s relatively short, totaling 3.2 miles round trip, but the incline and heat combined make it seem more difficult. (Another reason to go early! Or late!)
The first thing you will see on the trail is Wolfe Ranch. It’s a small, one-room cabin that takes no time at all to walk by and look inside.
Shortly after Wolfe Ranch, there is a trail that breaks off and leads you to the petroglyphs. This trail will connect back to the main trail, so I think it’s worth an extra few minutes to walk by and see the petroglyphs.
The trail gets more brutal when you reach the slickrock. Once you make it over the slickrock, the trail levels out for a little bit. There is a rock ledge to hike around right before you reach the Delicate Arch. Once you make it around the rock ledge, the trail opens up and you will see the Delicate Arch.
There are a few shaded spots around the Delicate Arch, so you can chill out for a while. It’s a pretty large, open area.
Photographing The Delicate Arch
Hiking around sunrise or sunset will allow for the best lighting. I think sunset would be best. These pictures were taken around 9am, and the part of the arch facing me was shaded. Brining a tripod would help, but it’s not necessary. Also, you will probably have to wait around to make sure other people are not in your pictures of the arch.
Things People Don’t Tell You About Hiking The Delicate Arch
The crowds and the heat are the two things that suck the most about this hike. It’s awesome… and that’s why it is a very busy hike. It also feels more crowded since a lot of the space is wide open and you can see all of the people around you. There was also a line to take your picture underneath the arch, which was kind of funny, but I get it.
The heat is also a little ridiculous, and there is basically no shade on the trail. Hiking in the middle of the day is not advisable. (Except maybe in the winter it would be ok?)
There are porta-potty type bathrooms at the trailhead and they smell completely awful. It’d be smart to go to the bathroom before you go to the trailhead, if possible.
What To Remember About The Delicate Arch Hiking Trail
- Hike early or late (sunrise or sunset would be best)
- Bring plenty of water
- Wear sunscreen
- And a hat, if you’re a hat person
- Pace yourself
- Bring your camera!