If you're headed to Arches National Park, make sure to hike on the iconic Delicate Arch trail! This extra-popular spot can be crowded, so check out our tips on the best times to visit.
Delicate Arch is the poster child of Arches National Park.
You'll see Delicate Arch on the Utah license plate. It's on countless souvenirs.
If you're going hiking in Arches National Park, the trail to Delicate Arch is the "hike you can't miss," and quite honestly-- it was the most strikingly beautiful place in the park.
It seems like every single park visitor wants to come see it.
And that means-- crowds.
Want more nearby hiking trails? Some of these hiking trails in Canyonlands National Park are only about 30 minutes from Arches!
How to Avoid Crowds at Delicate Arch
The first time we visited Arches, we started hiking to Delicate Arch at 8am.
Early, but not early enough.
Our 8am hike to the arch was pleasant (if slightly crowded).
By the time we rounded the final corner of the trail, and were confronted with the massive arch-- it was overflowing with people.
As someone who is nervous with heights, and doesn't love crowds, this just wasn't the experience I was hoping for. We stayed for a few minutes, and then turned around and hiked back down.
The second time, we started our hike at 4:30am, even though we were tired from hiking the Double O Arch trail the evening before.
You read that correctly. 4:30 AM.
And you know what?
We were NOT ALONE.
We wound our way up the steep rocks, and up, up, up until we rounded the final corner to the arch-- and we found ourselves sharing the view with a just handful of quiet, friendly hikers.
We watched the sun rise, felt overwhelmed by nature, and sat in silent awe.
Later, more hikers slowly trickled in, and we turned to leave. I highly recommend watching the sunrise at Delicate Arch.
How Difficult Is The Hike to Delicate Arch?
The trail to Delicate Arch is a strenuous 3-mile out-and-back trail with a 480-foot elevation gain.
There's little to no shade on the entire trail. Make sure to bring along plenty of water.
This is not a technically difficult hike, but I was happy to have a trekking pole.
I especially love these Kelty trekking poles for a budget-friendly option because of the easy-to-grip cork handles and sturdy aluminum construction. Looking for a higher-end trekking pole? We love these Black Diamond Alpine carbon trekking poles.
If you're not up for a difficult hike, visit the accessible Delicate Arch Viewpoint.
How to Get to the Trailhead
Park in the Wolfe Ranch parking area.
The lot can fill up quickly, especially on a busy weekend.
If the main lot is full, you can also park in the Delicate Arch Viewpoint parking area and walk to the trailhead. You'll be adding an extra mile each direction onto the trail length.
I'm Scared of Heights. Can I Make it to Delicate Arch?
Most of the trail is probably fine, but just before you reach the arch, there's an area with a steep drop-off.
I hugged the wall as I made my way along this part of the trail and was fine.
In my opinion, the most terrifying part of the Delicate Arch trail was walking over to pose for a photo by the arch.
If you're scared of heights, be cautious about walking over to the Arch. Delicate Arch sits on a large rock basin, and the whole path surrounding the arch tilts downhill towards the basin.
I made it to the arch, had my photo taken, and then froze.
My husband and two other hikers helped me back to the trail, and I don't plan on going all the way up to the arch again!
The hike along the Delicate Arch trail is fairly short, about a mile and a half each way, but on the way to the arch you'll probably be in a hurry.
We rushed on the way to the arch so that we could beat the crowds and watch the sunrise.
On the way down, take your time.
After you cross the steep ledge, take a moment to look at Delicate Arch through a smaller arch in the rock wall.
When you finish the hike, make sure to go look at the Wolfe Ranch petroglyphs!
Finally, head back to your car and get ready for another hike in Arches National Park!