Arches National Park, Delicate Arch Trail

Arches National Park Travel Blog

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Climbing the Delicate Arch Trail

There was still plenty of light left when we got to Arches National Park, our last stop in Utah.  We knew it would not last, however, so we decided to forgo finding a campground for now, and head straight into the park.  Our goal was to see the famous Delicate Arch (the one pictured on Utah license plates) before the sun set.  We headed to the beginning of the trail and started up!  The Delicate Arch Trail is a moderately difficult, 3 mile round trip.  The first mile and a half to the Arch is up a rock face trail, that is well marked by cairns and established paths, but don't worry...it's just as easy to follow the other couple dozen hikers going to the same place!  This trail should be no problem if you are physically fit, just make sure you bring plenty of water.

There she is! View through the rock opening
  It can easily surpass 100 degrees in the summer!  We were there at dusk and it wasn't too hot, but the uphill hike can take a lot out of you.   It is certainly well worth it at the end!  As we got near the top, the trail narrowed and we came to an opening in the rock wall.  We clambered up to the opening and were greeted with a stunning view!  The setting sun was shining directly on the Arch, lighting up it's reddish-orange hues that are common to this area.  We climbed back down to the trail and scrambled the last several yards to the actual viewing area.  There is a natural bowl-like ampitheater in front of the Arch, and a row of rocks acting as a sitting/viewing area.  There were dozens of people already there for the sunset, and they were lining up to take turns standing in front of the Arch for a photo opportunity.
Can you see me, at the base? That's how big this thing is!
   Anyone who stayed in front of the Arch for more than 20 seconds or so was greeted with shouts from the crowd of "Move it! Move it! let someone else have a turn!  we're losing the sun!"   For the most part, folks were respectful of each others chance to get "the perfect shot".  We were able to get about 2 shots each of each other before the crowd got antsy and shood us away!  I was able to climb down behind and below the Arch, and got some neat shots of the setting sun through the Arch itself. 

 We hung around at the top for close to an hour or so, then it was time to start heading back.  The sun was down now, and we were losing the light fast.  We still had a mile and a half hike back to the parking lot, but at least it was downhill now!  Now just about everyone was heading down at the same time, so even without a lot of light, it was easy to stay on the trail.

Sunset through the back of the Arch

It was totally dark by the time we got back, but we made it no problem.  ( There is another, easier viewing trail here that has no climbing and is only a few hundred yards walk, but the view of the Arch is far away)  We drove on down into Moab, and had no problems finding a campsite with plenty of room.  It was too late to do the fire/dinner thing though, so we went to a diner/ice cream parlor we had passed on the way. We had a nice meal and finished off the evening with double chocolate ice cream waffle cones. A perfect way to end a great day!

jostravel says:
I had visions there of a photo with Tyler sat on the top.....
Posted on: Apr 19, 2016
kensac says:
NIce job. Your pictures are great. I love this area all around Moab. Been there twice and intend to return again.
Posted on: Jan 25, 2008
Shrek7201 says:
Must've been an awesome trip! When I hiked that trail we actually did it the other way round. A fun little tidbit of info about the arch is that it's proper name is Landscape Arch, but a mapmaker swapped its name with delicate arch and it went to publish, so the two names were semi-permanently switched. The now Landscape Arch is very, very delicate, and is seen on one of the other trails. (though I can't remember which one!)
Posted on: Sep 12, 2007
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Climbing the Delicate Arch Trail
Climbing the Delicate Arch Trail
There she is!  View through the ro…
There she is! View through the r…
Can you see me, at the base?  That…
Can you see me, at the base? Tha…
Sunset through the back of the Arch
Sunset through the back of the Arch
side view, Dawn & Tyler at the base
side view, Dawn & Tyler at the base
Me & Dawn
Me & Dawn
far shot
far shot
Sun is almost gone now
Sun is almost gone now
Very cool!
Very cool!
Tyler has a great view, behind the…
Tyler has a great view, behind th…
along the side sunset
along the side sunset
I was hanging off the back of a st…
I was hanging off the back of a s…
Last of the sun
Last of the sun
whats left of the sunset on the wa…
whats left of the sunset on the w…
somebody made an arch cairn!
somebody made an arch cairn!
A natural wonder!
A natural wonder!
Arches National Park
photo by: WaltJake