Delicate Arch: One of the Reasons I Love Utah

I love Utah! I am in love with Utah. I think Utah is one of the most underrated of the lower 48 and it’s such a shame.

To me, Utah offers one of the greatest variety geological structures—it has the mountain ranges in the north, famous for its skiing; arid desert in the west; and the salt flats of the east. It also contains my favorite type of geography: the overwhelming, large, reddish sandstone that you can see in Zion National Park as well as Arches National Park.

IMG_9467I’ve driven through Arches National Park before during my cross-country sprint to our base in New Jersey. That time, however, I didn’t have the chance to go on the hike to Delicate Arch, which is possibly Arches’ most famous structure. It’s even on Utah’s license plate! 

Instead, we hiked to Delicate Arch Viewpoint that time, which offered a glorious 1-inch sized view of the arch. I had to take out my giant zoom lens for a photo.

Coming back from the party in Reno, we set out to rectify that. IMG_9469

We began the hike around 6PM, which was perfect timing to catch the sun setting over the 65-foot arch. Not such a great time to take photos with the arch, though—unless you want a hoard of photographers shouting angrily at you.

I always thought the hike to Delicate Arch would take hours when it actually took only 2 hours, round-trip. For some reason, the national park website has it listed under “long hikes.” Maybe after my 12-mile hike, anything under 6 miles is relatively short.

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The trail starts out like a normal gravel trail and then transitions into climbing an enormous rock. Here, you’re allowed to climb all over it as long as you get yourself to the other side.

I highly recommend either going at sunrise or sunset if you’re there during the summer. This trail has no shade at all and if you’re hiking it in the summer, it’s likely that it’s over 100 degrees. IMG_9508

One of the most beautiful things about the Delicate Arch is not the arch itself, but the surroundings. If you see in the background, you can catch glimpses of the snow-capped mountain ranges in the distance.

What surprised me most about the Delicate Arch was its location. It looks like it’s perched on the edge of a giant funnel! I was suddenly standing on legs that quaked with each step bringing me closer to the arch for a photo.

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Together, we clambered up from where everyone was to a perch to watch the sun set over the magnificent arch. It was glorious.

After a weekend of debauchery, this serene moment was absolutely necessary for all of us to get back in touch with nature. For me, it had been over a month and a half since my last hike and it felt great to get back out there. IMG_9551
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When the sun finally did set, we all exhaled the breath we unknowingly held for the beauty of the moment.

When the sun finally set, a man dressed up as Baymax from Big Hero 6 sauntered out under the arch and started inflating himself for a photo. We all sat there for a few more moments, laughing, watching him pose and strut before clambering down from our perch to head back to the parking lot.

It wasn’t going to be the last time we saw each other. If anything, tour guiding taught us that distance meant nothing. That if prioritized, we would actually see each other fairly often.

Practical Information

Trail length: 3.2 miles round trip
Elevation gain: 480 ft
No shade
Time: 2-3 hours

Have you ever been to Utah?

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  • http://beertimewithwagner.com/ Jordan Beck Wagner

    You’re just killing me with all your National Park posts. Makes me motivated to go visit a lot of them! I saw them as a kid but definitely didn’t appreciate them then! xo

  • http://www.melaniefontaine.com/ Melanie Fontaine

    I visited Bryce Canyon when my parents and me were on our West US trip a few years ago and from what I’ve seen from Utah, I definitely have to say that it was my favorite US state so far! (Not that I’ve been to many, but whatever ;) ) And I would definitely love to visit Arches National Park (and whole bunch of other places in the US!) one day – you guys just have such epic landscapes!!