Hiking Trail Overview
Trail Length: 3 miles round trip
Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
Elevation Gain: 480 feet
GPS coordinates: 38.734038, -109.501261
Directions To The Trailhead: Drive 11.7 miles north into the park on the main road until you see the right-hand turn to Delicate Arch and Wolfe Ranch. Turn right on Delicate Arch Road and drive another 1.2 miles to the parking area on your left (north). To your right is a lot for oversize vehicles.
Directions To Viewpoints: Continue driving on Delicate Arch Road past the Delicate Arch Trailhead another 1.2 miles. The road ends at the parking area for the Lower and Upper Delicate Arch viewing areas.
To start, the trail climbs over rolling hills before a steep ascent on a slickrock slope with no shade. During the first part of the hike watch for collared lizards, which can run on their hind feet when chasing prey. (Don’t worry, they won’t chase you.) This hike can get very hot in the summer months, so park officials discourage hiking this trail midday during the summer.
Once you get over the slickrock climb, the trail levels out. This section puts you among huge sandstone domes, and you’ll find cairns along the way to mark the trail. As you get closer to Delicate Arch, you can see Frame Arch (also known as Twisted Doughnut Arch) to the right. True to its name, this arch forms a perfect "frame" for a photograph of Delicate Arch, but be careful climbing up to it. Further along, the trail follows a ledge that hugs a rock wall for 200 yards — keep an eye on your kids here.
When you finally come around the corner and see the full breadth of Delicate Arch, you’ll know why this is such a classic hike. You can walk over to the arch and have your photo taken standing under it, but when you’re done, please move away so others can take pictures. While the distance is manageable for most people, it’s more strenuous than a lot of hikers expect. Be sure to bring along at least two quarts of water per person for this trip.
On your way back and shortly before you return to the trailhead, it’s worth adding a quarter mile to your trip for a detour to visit Wolfe Ranch and see a wall of Ute Indian petroglyphs.
When To Hike Delicate Arch
Through the spring and fall, the park’s temperature usually reaches 65 to 85 degrees during the day, with nights as much as 30 degrees cooler. In the summer, daytime temperatures routinely hit 100 degrees, so hikes in the morning and evening are preferable. Make sure to bring along sunscreen and extra water for any summer hike. The trail is open year-round, and in the winter you can take advantage of the near solitude. But be aware, you may need poles or shoe spikes to navigate the trail, which can get icy.
"Delicate Arch stands out as a symbol of the state of Utah and one of the most recognized geological features in the world."
More Things To Know
- The Wolfe Ranch parking lot, which serves the Delicate Arch Trailhead, has toilets that are open year-round. But no drinking water is available here, so be sure to bring your own.
- Sunrise and sunset are both popular times to visit Delicate Arch. During the busy summer months, sunset can attract hundreds of photographers to capture the warm light on the arch, which gives it a fiery red glow. Sunrise offers a different but still spectacular look as the sun rises behind the arch.
- For photographers, take advantage of the Frame or Twisted Doughnut Arch, a small opening in a rock wall that perfectly frames Delicate Arch. It’s just off the trail and a great photo opportunity. Once you get to the arch, you’ll find that it sits on a large bowl. Take advantage of the multiple views of the arch from various points along the bowl. Walk to the far end for a unique vantage point and excellent pictures.
Arches Devils Garden Primitive Loop
If you take the Primitive Loop Trail and all short spur trails to nearby arches and other features, this becomes the longest maintained trail in Arches National Park. It’s also one of the most spectacular hikes you can take in any national park.
Arches Double O Arch
This trail takes hikers to Double O Arch, a most unusual formation where one arch is on top of another.
Arches Fiery Furnace
The Fiery Furnace isn’t named for its average temperature. Actually, it belies its name and remains fairly cool even in midsummer due to the many shady canyons.
Arches Landscape Arch
The hike to Landscape Arch is akin to the trip to Delicate Arch. It’s one of those must-see features of Arches National Park. This is an easy trail to hike on—flat and double-wide all the way (and usually heavily populated with hikers, so get an early start to avoid crowds).
Arches Windows Primitive Loop
The scenery is sensational on this short hike, but it is very popular. Consider taking this short hike early or late in the day when the crowds are somewhat diminished and you are more likely to find a place to park.
More Arches Inspiration
Arches National Park
Arches National Park is one of the top national parks in America: it’s a 73,234-acre wonderland of eroded sandstone fins, towers, ribs, gargoyles, hoodoos, balanced rocks, and, of course, arches northwest of Moab.
Arches National Park Camping
An otherworldly landscape of stunning red sandstone provides the perfect backdrop for a camping adventure.
Arches National Park Hikes
Arches National Park is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Southern Utah. Start planning your hiking trip with these trails!
Moab is surrounded by a sea of buckled, twisted and worn sandstone sculpted by millennia of sun, wind and rain
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Arches National Park is a vast playground for the adventurous, where everyone can find an unforgettable experience.
Winter in Arches National Park
Skip the crowded peak season and embrace the quiet of a winter visit to Arches National Park. Enjoy winter hikes, scenic drives and some of the best stargazing in the world.