Arches National Park: Utah's Iconic Delicate Arch
Delicate Arch is an iconic symbol and is a must see when living in or visiting Utah. This world-famous, majestic sandstone arch is 46 feet high, 32 feet wide and is the largest free standing arch within Arches National Park.
Difficulty: Very Easy Easy MODERATE Hard Very Hard
Distance: 3.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 680 feet
Terrain: Sand and slickrock, steep areas, some drop-offs, exposed trail
Time: 1.5 to 3 hours
When to Go: Spring and Fall, Summer (early in morning)
$25 National Park Entrance Fee
If you have a 4th grader you can get in FREE with the “Every Kid Outdoors” program.
Vault bathrooms at trail head, but NO water
Restaurants located in Moab, just 5 miles south of the park entrance
Campgrounds in Arches National Park or in and around Moab, UT
Hotels in Moab, UT
THINGS TO BRING
Sunscreen (hike completely exposed)
Good hiking shoes
Plenty of water
Delicate Arch was on my 4th-grade daughter's bucket list. She learned about it in school and begged to go visit it since.
We visited Arches National Park over Memorial Day weekend. This is a very busy weekend at the Park, but we were still glad we went. Be prepared for crowds and a wait of 30 to 60 minutes to get into the Park if going on a holiday weekend.
There is a large parking lot at the base of the hike, although finding a parking spot can still be difficult if visiting at a peak time. The Delicate Arch hike begins with a flat sandy path that then leads to an upward climb on hardened sandstone slickrock. After ascending the slickrock you will veer left following signs to the Arch.
There are some drop-offs as you get closer to the Arch. When there are drop-offs on any trail, I have my kids keep one hand on the wall at all times to keep them far away from the edge. My husband and I also split up during hikes, one in the front and one in the back, so that the kids are in-between both of us at all times.
Once you come to the Delicate Arch you can view the Arch from a distance or get up close by walking along the top of the “bowl” formation. There is quite a bit of wind at the top as you can tell from some of the pictures with all our hair in our faces.
The "bowl" is a large, circular drop directly in front of the Arch. This is something you don’t want to fall into so keep your kids near the top. You can stand under the arch if you want however, there is usually a line of people trying to take a picture underneath.
My husband and I actually left the kids with grandma that same night and snuck away to see the arch again with no moon and a sky full of bright stars. We were able to sit directly under the arch for as long as we wanted without having to quickly move for someone else to get a picture.
I was glad we did the hike just a few hours before so that we knew where to go in the dark. The sky was completely clear and the stars were vivid. One of the most surreal hikes I have been on. The pictures below don't do this experience any justice.
After you are finished at the arch, you simply turn around and re-trace your steps back to the trailhead. The way back is easy because you are going down the same 600 foot elevation change that you just climbed up.
We camped at Slickrock campground. I would not recommend staying here on a holiday weekend, unless it is your only option. My husband and I stayed in the cabins in March in the past and it was far less busy and more enjoyable place to stay than when we stayed for Memorial Day. Keep in mind that you still need to bring your own sleeping gear for the cabins.
Moab is really busy and everything gets booked out in the spring and holiday weekends. During this trip we actually had to rent an RV spot, because we could not find anything else that would accommodate our whole extended family that came with us. The campground was gracious enough to let us do this, although it was not spacious and we felt like we were invading the space of our neighbors.
The campground does have showers, good bathroom facilities and a playgound. There is also a pool that we were looking forward to, but it was closed during our visit.
PROS & CONS
World famous beautiful arch
Not too hard, most people can do this hike
Close to other amazing hikes and outdoor attractions
Some steep drop offs
Trail exposed – hot in the summer and sometimes in the spring and fall
Can get really crowded
Delicate Arch hike is located within Arches National Park. The entrance to Arches National Park is located just 5 miles north of Moab, UT on Highway 191.
Once in the park, follow the main road to the second fork, turn right at this turn. There are plenty of signage on the road to direct you to the Delicate Arch.
Arches National Park Official Page
OTHER NEARBY ADVENTURES
Other hikes within Arches National Park
Canyonlands National Park (30 minutes from park entrance, 1 hour from trailhead)
Dead Horse Point State Park (35 minutes from park entrance, 1 hour from trailhead)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi, I'm Corrine! I'm an outdoor enthusiast, mother of four, wife, nurse and runner. I believe God gave us this beautiful earth to explore, enjoy and protect.
My goal is to inspire you to get outside and create your own amazing memories as a family. Life is precious and there are too many adventures to be had to spend life on the couch or in front of a screen.
Join me and my family for "Adventures off the couch!" Follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest @outdoorfamfun.