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Delicate Arch

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The iconic Delicate Arch is the highlight of Arches National Park! It’s widely photographed and even on our Utah license plates. Delicate Arch is is the largest freestanding arch in the park and definitely an impressive sight to see!

This hike offers no shade, so if you are in Moab when the weather is hot, get up early. We had hoped to go even earlier, but we arrived at the trailhead about 9:00 am. The parking was definitely filling up, but we were able to find a spot and start out on the trail. This first photo is right from the trailhead and the second is looking down the large rock slope you need to climb.

It is definitely uphill, but doable even for kids. Our son climbed it all by himself at four. He didn’t actually need to crawl, but was having fun.

This is a three mile hike without shade, so be sure to bring plenty of water. Each member of my family had their own hydration pack (except the four year old who shared everyone’s). Most of this trail goes straight up the rock, so there are some cairns marking the way. This is a popular enough hike that you will probably have plenty of others to lead the way. It is uphill, but my four year old managed to hike all the way up himself (although he rode in the carrier pack on the way back down). Sunblock and a hat are also important.

At the top of the hill there is another flat section that has some little bushes. Head around the corner and you can see some rock formations similar to Delicate Arch.

When you come around the corner you will be where all those people are in the middle of the first photo. You can see a large indent in the middle of the rock surface. The shadow in the second photo is actually from Delicate Arch.

Because everyone wants a photo below the arch, there is usually a line to the side where people take turns taking each other’s photos. There were ravens circling the arch.

My kids got very excited for the wildlife, especially the lizards.

You can sit on the rocks and get views or photos of impressive Delicate Arch. I can’t wait to return with my camera instead of just a cell phone.

Stats: Distance – 3 miles roundtrip
Approximate hiking time – 1 to 3 hours
Elevation gain – 610 feet
Difficulty – Moderate
Trail – well maintained trail of sand and rocks
Bathrooms – At the Trailhead
Seasons to hike – Year-Round
Permits needed – $30 per car for 7-day pass to Arches (or National Parks Pass)
Pets allowed – No

Other trails in Arches National Park are Landscape Arch, Sand Dune Arch and Park Avenue. The Potash Road Petroglyphs and Dinosaur Tracks are nearby. Also check out Dead Horse Point and Canyonlands National Park.


We have so much beauty in Utah to explore! I love hiking and photography and can help you find your next favorite hike! All photos were taken by me!

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