~1-2 hr Roundtrip, 3 mi Roundtrip, Intermediate
How to get there: Turn right off the main road onto Delicate Arch Road after 11.5 miles from the park entrance. park in Wolf Ranch parking lot on the left. You can also keep going straight to view the arch from the Upper and Lower Viewpoints.
The entire hike is only about 1.6 mi each way. It only took us 30 min to hike up, but we read it takes most 45 min –1 hr. It isn’t extremely difficult except the middle section which is a consistent incline on the face of open rock. The trail starts pretty flat, you pass a cabin and eventually reach a short incline. This incline turns hilly, but is still pretty easy. Walking up and down a couple times, you reach the base of the previously mentioned incline.
Once you reach the incline it isn’t super steep but just consistently uphill for quite a distance. Because there is no clearly define path, just follow the crowd up! While it is defined as a ‘difficult’ hike but the park, there were people of all ages making their way up. Just stop and take breaks every once in a while.
At the top, the last stretch is winding through short shrubs/trees and rocks. Finally, you reach a set of stairs that takes you up to a ridgeway along a rock wall. Just above the stairs, if you climb up the wall, there is a hole that gives you a view of the arch from that point. Continuing on, you follow this semi-narrow ridge along the wall before turning the corner and seeing the Delicate Arch.
It really is stunning view and I can’t decide if it looks bigger in person or smaller, but regardless standing underneath it is something to experience. There is a line for pictures underneath the arch, but everyone is polite waiting their turn. People even offer to take help you take your photo. Make sure to fasten hats and other loose articles of clothing. It was very windy at the top! Also if you are afraid of heights, something to note: the whole area is like a huge bowl that funnels down, and you walk along the top edge to reach the arch.
Delicate Arch at Night
Essentially the hike is the exact same but here are some tips and bit from our experience:
FOLLOW THE ROCK STACKS (later learned these are called rock cairns) We have come to the conclusion that these were created to help you find your way and navigate. Let’s just say we got lost twice, and it was scary in the pitch dark. So follow the stacks and footprints in the sand.
Make sure to dress warm and wear head lamps. We started our hike around 11PM in hopes of seeing the Milky Way at it’s highest point. Do some research beforehand to find out what time is best. National Parks are ideal for stargazing and night photography because they are so isolated from civilization and light pollution. We used the free app Sky Guide which we found pretty useful. If you are going up for photography, allow yourself enough time to hike up and set up your equipment. You might want to go at a time where the Milky Way is right above or through the arch.
While hiking up, we did pass by a couple groups but not may were around. We also heard coyotes in the distance but not close to where we were. The hike was pretty scary with getting lost and it being completely dark. At the same time it was thrilling and not sure if I would want to do it again, but I definitely don’t regret it. Overall go in a group, be careful and follow the rock stacks!
See guides to other National Parks in Utah: Scout’s Lookout and Angel’s Landing and Emerald Pools and Riverside Walk in Zion National Park, Queen’s Garden Trail and Inspiration Point in Bryce Canyon, and Devil’s Garden, Double Arch, and the Windows in Arches National Park.