The Delicate Arch

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Wasatch on April 28, 2007

Open Baedeker’s USA, a guide book to America written by a committee of German professors, and the first thing you will see is a full page full color photo of the Delicate Arch. Most Americans would probably think of the Washington Monument or the Capital Dome or Niagara Falls as the image of America, but the Germans know better. The German professors wanted to give their readers the most memorable sight they could to introduce them to 600 pages of pedantic text on sightseeing the USA–slickrock.

The Delicate Arch looks like a horseshoe standing alone on top of bare rock hill. The scene of the red-orange rock of the Delicate Arch against the deep blue desert sky with the snow capped La Sal Mountains in the background is unforgettable.

There are four places in Arches National Park from which the Delicate Arch can be seen. 1] The Garden of Eden parking lot on the Windows Road. There is a spotting scope at the right hand end of the parking lot to locate the arch, about four miles away. Once you know where to look, the arch is easy to see. The remarkable feature of this view of the Delicate Arch is how it shows the arch as a lone sentinel on a field of rock. Also note that, at this distance, the arch appears gray, not its true red-orange color.

2] A glimpse of the Delicate Arch can be seen from the Delicate Arch viewpoint parking lot at the end of Delicate Arch Viewpoint road, but the view is much better at the top of the short climb at the end of the parking lot.

3] After the easy climb uphill from the Delicate Arch viewpoint parking lot, the Delicate Arch stands alone across the rolling slickrock hills (see review, ‘What is slickrock’). This is a fine view of the Delicate Arch, and as close as you can get without a strenuous hike. It looks like you should be able to walk over to the Delicate Arch from here, but there is a sheer cliff and a deep gully in between; it can’t be done.

4] The Delicate Arch trail, three miles round trip, 2-3 hours, is one of the most strenuous hikes in the park as it climbs 480 feet to a slickrock path to the Delicate Arch. Here, you can get right up to the Delicate Arch. Keep in mind there is no shade or water on this trail.

Once you see the Delicate Arch, you will know the answer to the question a tourist once asked me, “What’s that rock on your license plate?” Most Utah licensed vehicles carry a picture of the Delicate Arch.
Delicate Arch
Arches National Park
Moab, Utah

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