Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Delicate Arch Trail

The Delicate Arch Trail is a 3.0 mile round trip to the most famous arch in the world. This is one of the most popular attractions in Arches National Park in southeast Utah. This is a moderately strenuous hike and not an easy stroll.

Near the trail head is the remains of the Wolfe Ranch, a National Historic Site. John Wesley Wolfe was an early rancher, moving here in search of a dry climate, and living here in the early 1900s. The Wolfe's had a 100 acre tract here along Salt Wash and raised a few cattle, under very primitive conditions.

Most of the route is uphill, with an elevation gain of 480 feet, across bare sandstone marked by rock cairns, with a somewhat exposed final section along a ledge. This climb over bare rock is a memorable part of this hike.

The Delicate Arch is the best known arch in the world. It is an unofficial symbol of Utah and an image of it appears on one version of the license plate. The snowy mountains visible to the east are the LaSals.

The Delicate Arch sits along the edge of a steeply sloping sandstone bowl. It seems a little treacherous, but one can stay along the rim of the bowl and view Delicate Arch from different angles and get views back towards the west. Many viewers tend to relax along the rim of the bowl and enjoy the view without trying to get closer.

There are at least two other arches to notice along the trail, both just before arriving at Delicate Arch. Frame Arch is high on the right and one can view or photograph Delicate Arch through Frame Arch. Echo Arch is in the canyon low on the left along the final approach. (There is a separate post titled Frame Arch Trail with pictures of these arches.)

A side trail near the trail head leads to a petroglyph panel. This one appears to be somewhat recent as some of the figures appear to be horses with riders. Rock Art enthusiasts should visit the Courthouse Wash Panel that is just south of the main park entrance along highway 191. There are also extensive rock art panels along Potash Road and several other places in the Moab, Utah area.

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