Monday, June 26, 2017

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah, June 6, 2017

Mileage:  3 miles (RT) 

Elevation gain:  480'

Trailhead:  Trail starts at the Wolfe Ranch parking lot, which fills up quickly. (You can also park at the Arches viewing point a mile from the trailhead.) Enter the park, which is located five miles north of Moab, Utah off of Route 191, and follow the signs. (Click here for a map of the park.)

Hiked with my daughter today.  It was 8:00 a.m. when we arrived at the park gate and were surprised to find no one there to collect the $25 entrance fee.  We drove through, stopping at the visitor center to stamp our parks passport and top off our water. Then we jumped back in the car and drove up the intense switchbacks that lead into the park.

The parking lot at Wolfe Ranch was full but we were able to find a spot across the street.  An RV pulled in behind us and soon after a car squeezed in behind the RV, essentially blocking it in. The RV driver said he would wait for us to return before trying to get out (we too were somewhat blocked in).

Heading up the trail.

By 8:30 the day was heating up and the crowds had arrived. We stepped onto the trail and headed up what felt to us like one big, never-ending rock. For a relatively short hike, the intense sun and unrelenting pitch of the trail makes this more challenging than you would expect.

Some used umbrellas to block the sun.  We wore hats, suncreen, and had plenty of water but still felt the tug of exhaustion as the sun got higher.

The trail is well marked and exclusively on rock.

There is an area midway where you can grab a bit of shade.

The trail veers right onto a wide ledge. Get ready to head right on that ledge, the final approach to the viewpoint.

Definitely worth the trip!

It was VERY busy at the top.  Everyone wanted their photo under the arch.  Most of us were standing on the part of the viewing area that's seriously slanted in toward the center, like a drain. The middle of the drain is open - a serious drop off. Someone lost their water bottle and it rolled toward the center and down the drain - a reminder that we were standing on the slant of a smooth rock with a long way down should we slip!

We hung out admiring the view for quite a while, then made the trek down taking the short path to the petroglyphs.

Back at the trailhead and parking lot the crowding had increased. Our RV neighbor was waiting for us as were several new arrivals waiting to take our spots.

If you plan to hike to Delicate Arch, do so early and plan on parking and crowd stress. Bring plenty of water and wear a hat and sunscreen.

Photo courtesy of