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  • Writer's pictureJenna

Mistakes I Made Hiking to the Delicate Arch

Updated: Jan 13, 2021

Hiking up to see the famous Delicate Arch can be strenuous, but planning ahead can make it not as hard. Follow these steps to make your hike a lot more enjoyable.

Going to Arches National Park, I was a little naïve.. I was in Utah for a work trip, so Vince was cute and decided to fly out for the weekend to do some exploring with me. :) We decided last minute that it would be fun to take the trip to Arches National Park, because I mean.. Why not right? I thought it shouldn’t be too bad: we get out of the car, see the famous Delicate Arch, and drive through some beautiful land. Easy enough. Little did we know the hike we had ahead of us..

First Mistake - Not Planning Ahead

There is only one way to the delicate arch - to hike. There is no ifs, ands, or buts about it. We arrived at what we thought was going to be the delicate arch, but what ahead of us was a 3 mile, 480-feet gain hike. The National Park Service classifies the hike as difficult (We found this out well after we went!). We decided we made the drive there, so we wanted to do it.

For your planning ahead purposes - When you arrive, you start at Wolfe Ranch Trailhead where there is substantial parking, as well as bathrooms/water stations. If the parking lot is full, you can also park at the Delicate Arch Viewing parking lot. Here you can see the arch, but from a far distance. It may be worth it for some, but it isn’t the best view of the Delicate Arch like you see in the pictures. If you start your hike from here, it will be about 5 miles round trip, instead of 3 if you were to park in the Wolfe Ranch Trailhead parking lot. 

Second Mistake - Poor Choice of Clothing

If you are planning to visit arches, especially in the summer you should be aware of how hot it can get. When we took this hike it was November, and it wasn’t very hot in Salt Lake City when we started our drive. Due to this, I wore sweatshirts and pants. However, once in Arches National Park it was HOT. The average temperature in November is 55 degrees there, but for us it was well in the 80’s and it was a scorching sun. We definitely should have dressed lighter.. 

For your planning ahead purposes - I recommend that if you are going in the fall like us, bring warm clothes in your car and you can always change depending on the weather once you get there. It could be cooler wherever you are coming from, but it may very well be hot when you get to the national park. Bringing extra clothes in the car is definitely worth it :)

Third Mistake - Not Bringing Lots of Water!

We had a few water bottles in our car (luckily!), so we brought these along, but they weren’t enough for the 3 mile, strenuous hike to see the Delicate Arch. We were trying to make the little water we had left to last for most of the hike back down. It made it not as enjoyable as it could have been if we had enough water. 

For your planning ahead purposes - Please make sure to bring lots of water!! The Arches National Park Website recommends you bring 2 quarts of water with. You may not go through it all, but will regret not having it if you don’t. Especially with how hot it could get in the summer months, it won’t be safe if you don’t have enough.. 

What The Trail Looks Like

Lastly, I wanted to talk about what the trail looks like, as there are several different, unique parts to it. The first part of the trail is a simple graded path, which is not too difficult. It made me think, how hard can this be! The second part is truly the hardest. Here you have to climb steep, slick rock, which I am sure is very slippery if wet! This part made me wonder why I didn’t plan ahead better.. Once you get to the top of this, the views start to get great! The third part of the trail is also not too strenuous like the first part. It is still the smooth rock, but more level. The last part of the trail is the only real scary part of the hike. It is a trail that drops off on one side, and has rock on the other side. For me being afraid of heights, it was a little scary, but it wasn’t terrible. You will then turn a corner and see the beautiful Delicate Arch! Enjoy your time here and know you worked hard for these amazing views! The trek back is then downhill, so it isn’t so bad and you get back down quicker than going up.

Planning ahead for the hike to the Delicate Arch is so important. If you don’t it could cause a long, difficult hike. I believe if we were more prepared, it wouldn’t have been so hard for us. The views at the arch are unbelievable and so worth the hike to see it. I recommend this hike anyone to, it will be something you never forget :)

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