The Devils Garden campground is the jumping off point for any hike to Broken Arch. We walked across sand dunes and slickrock on our way to this formation. We encountered only one other couple along the trail, and, for the only time in Arches, we saw deer droppings. It looked to us as though we had just missed a wildlife encounter.
The trail passed directly under Broken Arch and soon crossed a broad, flat open area. We wended our way through the low scrub and headed toward what looked like a rock wall. As the trail swung around, we saw that we were approaching a series of fins, and that the trail would take us in between them. Just before we turned into the fins, we encountered the trail from the Sand Dune Arch parking area. Had we not taken the loop hike, we would have approached the arch from this trail.
Sand Dune Arch hides quietly amongst the red rocks just a short distance from the parking lot. The abundance of shade and sand found here make this a pleasant place to linger on a hot day. Sand Dune Arch is so low that it is tempting to climb on top. The Park Service strongly advises against this; the sand does not provide as soft a landing as one might expect!
After emptying the sand from our boots, we headed back toward Broken Arch. The view of this arch on the return trip was just as impressive as it had been heading out. Our hike ended back at the campground, where we refilled our water bottles before heading off again into the desert.
Results 1-6of 6 Reviews
heber ctity, Utah
April 28, 2007
From journal Rocks, in every shape, size, and color
Rodeo, New Mexico
December 13, 2006
The ranger was skeptical that the road to Delicate Arch would open soon. More rain expected; road and trail damage already extensive. She and her truck were guarding the closed gate past the turnoff. A sign warned of massive flooding, and prosecution of those caught attempting to walk in. We’d missed this famous arch last time, and it appeared we’d miss it again now.
Not so fast. Six days later found us attempting access again, after learning at the visitor center that the road had opened. The trail to Delicate Arch is moderately strenuous, steadily uphill on slickrock. It’s the only way to get right to and underneath Delicate Arch. I suggested to Bob that I hike it, while he drive to the viewpoint, further up the road. He was not enamored of this idea, however, recalling the last time I’d hiked off somewhere and he ended up waiting an hour for me.
I was pretty miffed when Bob and I got to the viewpoint, the wimpy way to see Delicate Arch. Indeed, the lower viewpoint visible from the parking lot was not that exciting, and I started up the trail to upper viewpoint. The trail winds gradually up, with steps in steeper areas. It reaches a wide-open slickrock slope, where Delicate Arch is visible. I jealously peered through my binoculars at hikers enjoying the arch. One tiny figure stood directly under it, legs wide and arms outstretched.
Soon I noticed rock cairns on the other side of the ledge, and hopped over to see yet more cairns, leading to the edge of the chasm. This was more like it! I was amazed to find myself the only person to partake of this breathtaking view. Not only was Delicate Arch closer, but Winter Camp Wash below was full of interesting landforms. Yellowing cottonwoods lined the muddy-red wash. An imposing massive monolith jutted skywards, behind which lay a light-colored bowl, ringed in darker reds and browns.
After a couple of hikers joined me on the cliff’s edge, I walkie-talkied Bob to get on over, telling him to follow the cairns. All this time clouds had been billowing in from the west, and as they blotted out the sun, the wind blew harder, making me shiver. "Oh, great" muttered Bob, "now I’m here and the sun’s gone". I left him waiting for sunlight as I made my way down.
Halfway down I met a ranger leading a group of photographers to the viewpoint for sunset photos. With the clouds, the sunset could be really spectacular, or… increasing darkness and sounds of thunder. I was at the lower viewpoint, Bob coming down, when a ranger drove up and urged everyone to their cars.
No sooner were we inside the car than the deluge hit. Nothing like perfect timing! Flashes of lightning and drenching rain made me glad I hadn’t insisted on hiking alone to Delicate Arch.
From journal Magical Arches in the Rain
May 15, 2002
From journal Arches and Canyonlands NP
Cleveland , Ohio
September 10, 2001
From journal Arches National Park - Red Rock Fantasy
September 9, 2001
The trail to Delicate Arch begins at the Delicate Arch Trailhead. Before starting our hike, we took a little time to browse around the remains of the Wolfe Ranch. John W. Wolfe first settled here in 1898. This cabin was built in 1906, but was abandoned around 1910. Even today, this is an isolated area of the Park. It is hard to imagine what it would have been like to have lived here alone so long ago.
This is an in and out trail which ascended steadily almost from its very beginning. Most of the trail was slickrock and there was almost no shade along the way. Even though we visited Arches at a relatively slow time, we found this hike to by a busy one. It hardly seemed necessary to have rock cairns to mark the way along this trail - millions of feet have worn a slight groove in the rock. As the trail wound around the high cliffs, it was possible to get a first glimpse of Delicate Arch through Frame Arch on the right. This section of trail was blasted from the rock side and provided great views off to the left.
The classic view of Delicate Arch did not appear until the trail’s end. The trail has been designed so that the view of the arch is a grand finale. As the wall of red rock ended on the right, Delicate Arch appeared on the opposite side of a natural bowl. It was as though nature had made a grandstand from which you could sit and contemplate its wonder. Like everyone else, we lingered here a while, resting from the climb, enjoying a snack and taking pictures. There have been times in our travels within the National Parks when we have felt that we had seen a place unlike any other in the world. We had this feeling here, and truly savored the experience before retracing our steps back down to the parking lot.