Your visit to Moab won't be complete without hiking the Delicate Arch Trail. This landmark is so famous, it’s on the Utah license plate! As one of the most famous hikes in Moab, and even the entire country, be sure to put Delicate Arch on your bucket list. Here’s what you need to know for the hike.
First, before you head out to hike the Delicate Arch Trail, keep in mind this is one of the busiest trailheads in the country. If you want to hike, you’ll need to nab a parking spot first. The biggest thing to know about hiking to Delicate Arch is to get there EARLY. It’s well worth the effort to watch the sunrise from here. You’ll have fewer crowds and better views.
Take the main road through Arches National Park until you reach Delicate Arch Road. Take the road until you reach the trailhead. If you continue down the road, you’ll reach the Delicate Arch Viewpoint, an excellent alternative to the Delicate Arch Trail.
This world-famous hiking trail is an out-and-back style hike that terminates at the incredible Delicate Arch. You’ll make your way along a well-traveled trail until you reach a slickrock section. Here, the trail is lined with cairns. Make your way to the top of the slickrock, then keep traveling until you reach an obvious stopping point. You’ll be on top of some incredible sandstone with sweeping vistas below you and the mighty Delicate Arch right in front of you.
Distance: 3.1 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 613 feet
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Estimated Time: 2 hours
To reach Delicate Arch, you’ll need to be sure you pack plenty of water and sun protection. The shade is limited and you’ll find yourself drinking more water than usual in the dry desert climate.
The trail makes its way up to the top of a sandstone outcropping where you’ll find the famous Delicate Arch. Along the way, the trail has many points of interest including the famous Wolfe Ranch. This small homestead includes a one-room cabin which the Wolfe family made their home. You’ll also find a small loop trail detour that makes its way to some wonderful petroglyphs. Experience the rich history of these lands as you make your way towards Delicate Arch.
The hike itself isn’t too strenuous, but if you’re new to hiking, you may find the sandstone slab and narrow rock sections a bit challenging. Take your time to find your footing and enjoy the scenery.
Overall, the hike to Delicate Arch is an excellent outing and certainly doable for families with smaller children. Pack a snack so you can relax and enjoy the views of Delicate Arch at the end of the trail. Be sure to pack out your trash.
Not up for the challenge? It’s okay, you can continue down the road from the trailhead and check out the Delicate Arch Viewpoint, a 0.7-mile trail that features a wonderful viewpoint of the arch formation. This makes for a great addition to your hike or an excellent stop for those that don’t want to commit to the Delicate Arch Trail.
If you plan on photographing Delicate Arch, you simply must take advantage of the soft early morning or late evening light. Hiking at sunrise is a great way to beat the crowds and provides perfect lighting for photography. Delicate Arch sees quite a few crowds for sunset, so get there early and plan to stay at the arch to watch the ending of another day.
Overall, Delicate Arch is a must-see attraction in Moab. So strap on your hiking boots and hit the trail to experience one of the most beautiful rock formations in the world.