I have the good fortune of having a best friend who lives in Utah. Most of the time, I wish she lived in Nashville near me but then I wouldn’t have had such an awesome guide to show me around Moab, Utah! I have to tell you that I packed a suitcase full of layers because I was afraid I would freeze to death in Utah in November but we had really beautiful weather. It was cold but very bearable in just jeans, a long sleeve shirt, and a coat. Sometimes, I even took my coat off! The hike to the Delicate Arch in Arches National Park was really awesome and made me feel alive in ways that I hadn’t felt in some time. It was just mind blowing visually. It felt a bit like being warped through time and space to find myself in such unfamiliar landscape, in the middle of nowhere. At times, I felt like I had been swallowed up by nature. I know that all sounds a little melodramatic but it was really fantastic and I don’t even think I can express properly how and why.
Arches National Park, Moab, Utah
First, we stopped at the Arches National Park visitor center which gives you a little history and ecology run down and, of course, offers a gift shop so you can bring souvenirs to the family you didn’t bring with you and maybe a little something for yourself!
Signs like these told you about what animals you might expect to see and about the different attractions because Arches National Park is a huge area with many things to see. We choose the Delicate Arch Hike but I have a feeling we could have done a different hike everyday for at least a week and never have been bored!
Going for the Delicate Arch hike in November was wonderful because you avoid the crowds. I have been told that it is packed with people during warmer times of the year but on our November Delicate Arch Hike, there were times when it was just my friend and I and the open sky and total quiet. Spectacular.
Delicate Arch Hike
Length: 3 miles round trip
Time: 2 to 3 hours
Elevation change: 480 feet
Here is the Delicate Arch Hike Description from the National Park Service:
“Open slickrock with some exposure to heights. The first half-mile is a wide, well-defined trail. Upon reaching the slickrock, follow the rock cairns. The trail climbs gradually and levels out toward the top of this rock face. Just before you get to Delicate Arch, the trail goes along a rock ledge for about 200 yards.”
I found that to be a very accurate description. It was a nice wide, safe hiking trail most of the way but there were lots of slanted rock surfaces that could have been slippery if wet or with flimsy shoes. I wore hiking boots. We brought water and sunscreen and energy bars. The rock cairns were very useful in finding the way because sometimes it is just wide open rock with no clear trail and that guide comes in handy!
The trail does go along a rock ledge for a stretch and I am a bit afraid of heights so I just had to breath deep, remain calm, and not look down! You know you are getting close when you see a small natural arch in the rock wall overhead and you reach the narrow trail along the rock wall.
When you arrive at the area where you can first see the Delicate Arch, it is pretty flat and a great viewing point. You can recenter yourself after rounding that narrow trail up! You can also get a picture with the Delicate Arch as your backdrop.
Here is a 360 degree view from the safe, flatish area.
Also, once you reach the Delicate Arch area, it is like you arrived on one side of a bowl and the Delicate Arch is on the other side of the bowl so you have to climb around that to get to the Delicate Arch. The bowl is not steep for a good ways but it does eventually drop into a canyon.
Because of the colder weather, we we even able to get a photo of the Delicate Arch without any people- of course, without people for scale, you can’t tell how huge it is.
Then when you get to the Delicate Arch, you will be overwhelmed by its size and by the fact that you are so precariously perched when you go under it. I found it a bit breath taking and was reduced to Beavis and Butthead like muttering of, “woah!”
Here is a view looking up at the arch while in the center. It was a bit hard for me to do and retain my grounded, secure feeling but I just had to have the view while I was there!
The views of the Delicate Arch were amazing and so were the views from the Delicate Arch.
Then on the Delicate Arch Hike, there were other sights to see, as if the Delicate Arch itself was not enough!
There was also a chance to see petroglyphs. If you are not careful, you may miss it completely like we did on the way in but we saw the sign on our way out! The Ute petroglyph is pretty fantastic and dated between 1650 and 1850. It shows a horseback rider and big horn sheep. However, it is very inconspicuous and you have to be looking for a petroglyph to notice it.
You can also peek at the Wolfe Ranch with a cabin from 1906. It is interesting to imagine life in those times!
I hope you get around to doing the Delicate Arch Hike in Moab, Utah! It truly is fantastic. Have you been to Arches National Park before?
I did another hike in Fisher Towers, which was also wonderful and quite adventure filled. I’ll have to blog about that some time soon!