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Delicate Arch, UT
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What is the most popular, most photographed natural arch in the country? What arch adorns the license plates and welcome signs of Utah? Delicate Arch.

Delicate Arch is a thin fin of Entrada Sandstone overlooking a natural bowl of slickrock on one side, and Winter Camp Wash on the other. Over the course of thousands, maybe even a million or so years, wind and the natural freeze-thaw cycle have worked away at the fin, creating a massive aperture that looks across the slickrock deserts north of Moab all the way out to the La Sal Mountains. It is a beautiful arch in a beautiful setting.


This trail can be quite busy, especially in between April and September. Please be courteous to those who may not know as much about trail etiquette.

The trail starts at the Wolfe Ranch/Turnbow Cabin, alongside Salt Wash. These cabins were built by some of the first pioneers in the Moab area. Perhaps they left the area after realizing the water they built next to was salty? Who can say now. The cabins are neat, especially for those interested in the pioneer history of the area. From the cabins, the trail crosses Salt Wash. In the hotter months the gnats and horseflies can be very bad around the wash, so be aware.

The trail then snakes its way across Morrison Formation badlands, late Jurassic sediment that was laid down when animals like Allosaurus and Stegosaurus roamed the lands. Northwest, across the San Rafael Swell in the Morrison Formation, a huge collection of Allosaurus fossils were found, possibly killed in a La Brea Tar Pits-esq death trap. Here in Arches, however, there are no such concentrations of bones. This formation was also targeted by the Uranium miners in the 1950's and 60's. There are deposits of Uranium in the Morrison; in fact, some of the fossil bones have absorbed so much Uranium that they can be detected on a Geiger counter!

The trail leaves the undulated hills of the Morrison and begins climbing up a steep section of older Entrada Sandstone. The entire Cache Valley, where the cabins are located, is a giant syncline, where the crust of the earth has buckled downward. Near the parking area, you probably noticed a ridge of dark stone, sticking out of the ground heading generally east-west. This hogback is at the top of the Morrison, and was originally laid down flat. You can see just how much the ground has tipped down. Now as you begin climbing the slickrock, following the well-worn path and the cairns, you are going deeper back in time, even though you are gaining elevation. Also look to the cliffs to the north - some hanging gardens can be seen there, where some minuscule amount of water has managed to seep out.

At the top of the slickrock, you cross a section of sand and bushes, in between two fins of towering red sandstone. The trail then begins to hug the fin on the right, and soon is a narrow path on slickrock overlooking a small draw and mounds of red sandstone disappearing to the north. The fin on your right has one small keyhole arch in it, and from this keyhole you can look across the slickrock bowl towards Delicate Arch. This is a great view, even if there are usually swarms of people moving too and fro across the bowl. Continue around the end of the fin, cross the upper end of the bowl, and you can stand directly underneath Delicate Arch, the most famous arch in the world. When you are done oohing and aahing, return to your vehicle the same way you came.

Please note that there is no shade and no water on this trail. Furthermore the slickrock can be quite slippery when wet. Make sure your water bottles are filled at the ranger station, campground, or back in Moab before hiking this trail.
Description 35 Triplogs  1 Topic
RatedFavorite  
Wish List 1
 Region
 
0
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 Canyonlands, UT
Statistics
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,350 feet
Elevation Gain 480 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5.4
Interest Historic
Author PaleoRob
Descriptions 137
Routes 111
Photos 5,253
Trips 942 map ( 2,097 miles )
Age 36
Location Grand Junction, CO
Photos
Viewed All Mine Following
5  2017-03-03 John9L
13  2016-06-23 cw50must
15  2016-05-18
Arches National Park
DallinW
23  2016-04-20
Arches National Park Trails
trekkin_gecko
6  2014-12-27 Lucyan
6  2014-09-26 AZWanderingBear
5  2014-07-26 leonesiegel
2  2014-05-25 trailzrus
1  2014-04-22 KwaiChang
14  2013-03-24 gmaclachlan
7  2012-09-28 squatpuke
10  2012-09-28 paulhubbard
Page 1,  2
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar
Backpack   Connecting Only
Preferred   Mar, Apr, Sep, Oct → Early
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  4:59am - 7:32pm
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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Official Route
 
Alternative Routes
 
Water
Nearby Area Water
Lost Spring Canyon
3.2 mi away
12.0 mi
900 ft
Double Arch
3.4 mi away
0.5 mi
100 ft
Balanced Rock
3.4 mi away
0.4 mi
28 ft
Fiery Furnace
3.7 mi away
2.0 mi
150 ft
Sand Dune Arch
3.7 mi away
Eye Of the Whale Arch - Arches NP
4.0 mi away
4.5 mi
800 ft
[ View More! ]
Geology
Entrada Formation
Laccolith
Monocline
Natural Arch
Meteorology
Moon
Named place
Agathla Peak - El Capitan
Delicate Arch
La Sal Mountains
Culture
Cairn
Wooden Dwelling
The most famous arch in America
by PaleoRob

What is the most popular, most photographed natural arch in the country? What arch adorns the license plates and welcome signs of Utah? Delicate Arch.

Delicate Arch is a thin fin of Entrada Sandstone overlooking a natural bowl of slickrock on one side, and Winter Camp Wash on the other. Over the course of thousands, maybe even a million or so years, wind and the natural freeze-thaw cycle have worked away at the fin, creating a massive aperture that looks across the slickrock deserts north of Moab all the way out to the La Sal Mountains. It is a beautiful arch in a beautiful setting.


This trail can be quite busy, especially in between April and September. Please be courteous to those who may not know as much about trail etiquette.

The trail starts at the Wolfe Ranch/Turnbow Cabin, alongside Salt Wash. These cabins were built by some of the first pioneers in the Moab area. Perhaps they left the area after realizing the water they built next to was salty? Who can say now. The cabins are neat, especially for those interested in the pioneer history of the area. From the cabins, the trail crosses Salt Wash. In the hotter months the gnats and horseflies can be very bad around the wash, so be aware.

The trail then snakes its way across Morrison Formation badlands, late Jurassic sediment that was laid down when animals like Allosaurus and Stegosaurus roamed the lands. Northwest, across the San Rafael Swell in the Morrison Formation, a huge collection of Allosaurus fossils were found, possibly killed in a La Brea Tar Pits-esq death trap. Here in Arches, however, there are no such concentrations of bones. This formation was also targeted by the Uranium miners in the 1950's and 60's. There are deposits of Uranium in the Morrison; in fact, some of the fossil bones have absorbed so much Uranium that they can be detected on a Geiger counter!

The trail leaves the undulated hills of the Morrison and begins climbing up a steep section of older Entrada Sandstone. The entire Cache Valley, where the cabins are located, is a giant syncline, where the crust of the earth has buckled downward. Near the parking area, you probably noticed a ridge of dark stone, sticking out of the ground heading generally east-west. This hogback is at the top of the Morrison, and was originally laid down flat. You can see just how much the ground has tipped down. Now as you begin climbing the slickrock, following the well-worn path and the cairns, you are going deeper back in time, even though you are gaining elevation. Also look to the cliffs to the north - some hanging gardens can be seen there, where some minuscule amount of water has managed to seep out.

At the top of the slickrock, you cross a section of sand and bushes, in between two fins of towering red sandstone. The trail then begins to hug the fin on the right, and soon is a narrow path on slickrock overlooking a small draw and mounds of red sandstone disappearing to the north. The fin on your right has one small keyhole arch in it, and from this keyhole you can look across the slickrock bowl towards Delicate Arch. This is a great view, even if there are usually swarms of people moving too and fro across the bowl. Continue around the end of the fin, cross the upper end of the bowl, and you can stand directly underneath Delicate Arch, the most famous arch in the world. When you are done oohing and aahing, return to your vehicle the same way you came.

Please note that there is no shade and no water on this trail. Furthermore the slickrock can be quite slippery when wet. Make sure your water bottles are filled at the ranger station, campground, or back in Moab before hiking this trail.
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    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Permit $$
    NPS

    Arches NP National Park
    Vehicles: $10 (Good for 7 days) Fee Information


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Moab, take US191 north to the Arches National Park entrance station. Pay your fee, and continue down the main park road until you reach Cache Valley. Turn right off the main road to the Delicate Arch parking area (signed). There are restrooms at the trailhead. The trail begins on the northeast area of the parking area. Warning: the parking area is small, and the trail is quite popular during the spring and summer. If you plan to hike this trail, arrive early to get a parking spot.
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
    stay out of the scorching sun
    prehydrate & stay hydrated
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