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Delicate Arch Trail

Intermediate
 4.7 (299) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Sure, you've seen the pictures, but an in-person visit to this über-classic arch is not to be missed


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Map Key

3.1

Miles

5.0

KM

Out and Back

4,816' 1,468 m

High

4,307' 1,313 m

Low

567' 173 m

Up

567' 173 m

Down

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

32%

Max Grade (18°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Views

Overview

Delicate Arch is a magnificent, free-standing arch recognized the world over. This trail to its base is fun-filled and unique- visiting petroglyphs and a smaller arch, climbing slickrock hillsides and traversing an exciting, exposed ledge.

Need to Know

Just before you get to Delicate Arch, the trail goes along a rock ledge for about 200 yards. This part is not scary for those without an extreme fear of heights, but a stumble here could have consequences.

Description

It is a given that everyone wants to see the Delicate Arch with their own eyes, right? But not everyone has the same time available or physical abilities. So there are 3 good options:

1.) Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint Trail: short, flat, paved, wheelchairs OK.
2.) Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint Trail: moderate half mile climb to viewpoint on cliffs across from the arch
3.) Delicate Arch Trail: more strenuous, 3 mile round trip to the base of Delicate Arch (described in detail below)

This is a trail description for the Delicate Arch Trail (to the base of the arch): starting from the parking lot at Wolfe Ranch, head northeast on the wide trail over mostly level ground. Almost immediately on the left, you'll pass the Old Wolfe Ranch (log cabin, root cellar, and corral used in the late 1800's). A bridge over the overgrown Salt Wash brings you to the Petroglyph Interpretive Trail. This easy loop visits a small panel of carved Ute Indian petroglyphs thought to be created after these native people acquired horses in the 1600's.

Continue on the Delicate Arch trail through dry desert terrain, occasionally passing stunted trees or rock piles providing welcome shade. Take these rare opportunities when you can, there is hardly any shade on this trail. Start ascending up red dirt hillsides before arriving at enormous tan slickrock slabs. This part of the trail crosses open rock with the route marked only with cairns. Keep an eye out for these rock piles, but if you lose the trail it helps to look for others on the trail or simply head uphill- you are likely to come across the path again.

Finally, the grade eases a bit and you leave the crevassed slickrock behind to climb smooth sandstone on the final approach to the arch. Follow the airy stone ramp on a slight incline as it contours around the backside of an imposing rock tower. This exposed part lasts about 200 yards but the path surface is about 3 feet wide at it's narrowest, so don't let this discourage you from completing this superlative trail.

Emerge through a break in the formation to be dazzled by the Delicate Arch in all its glory. One of the best features of this trail is the surprise reveal saved for the very end! Delicate Arch presides over an amphitheater-like bowl that can become over-run with admirers. It used to be part of the upper Entradea sandstone fin before erosion and wind weathered away the sandstone to leave what we see today. When you are finished ogling the arch, retrace your steps back to Wolfe Ranch. Unless you are more observant than most, you likely missed Frame Arch just around the corner (on the main path to Delicate Arch). This is worth looking for on the return trip and is also a favorite place to frame pictures of Delicate Arch through its window.

Some words to the wise: take at least 1 quart (1 liter) of water per person, wear a hat, use sunscreen, take breaks. Visit early or late in the day if you want to avoid the crowds on this extremely popular trail. Late afternoon is thought to be the best time to photograph Delicate Arch for the best color. Note: no bikes allowed on this trail.

Contacts

Shared By:

Megan W

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 299 votes

#44

Overall
  4.7 from 299 votes
5 Star
75%
4 Star
23%
3 Star
1%
2 Star
1%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#8

in Utah

#44

Overall
101 Views Last Month
16,475 Since Mar 5, 2015
Intermediate

2%
4%
75%
4%
14%
1%

Photos

Moon with Delicate Arch
Nov 2, 2017 near Moab, UT
Delicate Arch. Canyonlands National Park, Utah.
May 13, 2016 near Moab, UT
Arches National Park, UT. Getting some early season hiking in!
Apr 17, 2016 near Moab, UT
Yes, they are adorable, but don't feed them!  Hopi Chipmunk
Mar 8, 2015 near Moab, UT
The ledge here is very do-able and certainly unique
Mar 8, 2015 near Moab, UT
Delicate Arch in Winter - Worth the hike
Jan 5, 2018 near Moab, UT

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
All Clear 19 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

May 15, 2022
Megan Pollard
3.1mi — 1h 31m
May 11, 2022
Joseph Smith
Apr 22, 2022
Connor Greenhalgh
Dad, mom, and Mitchell. Kinda rainy 3.1mi
Apr 15, 2022
E D
Apr 13, 2022
Thomas Crenshaw
a little crowded but not nearly as much as I expect later in the season 3.2mi — 1h 18m
Apr 4, 2022
Josh Smith
Mar 28, 2022
Julian Kalfus
Mar 27, 2022
Lexi Swanson
make sure to put in time to just sit still with the landscape once you get there 3.1mi — 1h 30m