Our first hike of our 2011 visit to Arches National Park was the 3.0 mile (4.8 km) round-trip trek to Delicate Arch on September 21. We had done this hike almost exactly 4 years before, so we knew what we were getting into.
The trail begins at the parking lot adjacent to the old Wolfe Ranch cabin. A side trail near the cabin leads to some petroglyphs.
The Delicate Arch trail has very little shade. Most of the trail is over open “slickrock” sandstone – a term given by early settlers because of the difficulty of their horses’ metal shoes getting traction on the sloping surfaces of the rock. There is some exposure to heights. The trail can be a brutal hike during the summer, when temperatures can exceed 100°F (37.7°C). The park service recommends at least a quart of water per person on this trail. Across the rock, the trail is marked by rock cairns.
We had planned the southwestern part of our trip for late September into October to take advantage of cooler weather. The high temperature for our hike was probably in the low 70s.
The trail to Delicate Arch is a nice hike and I heartily recommend it for a spring or autumn hike, or even an early summer morning hike provided you’re off the rock before the extreme heat of the day.
Selected Information Resources:
Arches National Park.