Delicate Arch Trailhead at Wolfe RanchArches National Park
Arches National Park, Geological Wonders, Amazing Views
Length: 3.0 miles (out and back)
Elevation Gain: 610 ft
Approximate Hiking Time: 2-3 hr
Features: Geological Wonders
Nearest Town: Moab, Ut
Have you ever noticed that amazing free-standing arch on Utah’s license plates?
Adorning Utah’s license plates, Delicate Arch stands 52 ft in the air. A towering giant in the landscape and one of the largest freestanding arches. It can be viewed from the lower viewpoints, but touching it in person is unparalleled.
- Trail Condition 95% 95%
- Usage 100% 100%
- Trail Head Easy to Find 100% 100%
- Kid Friendly 80% 80%
1. Delicate Arch
Standing beside one of Utah’s most iconic sights is a once in a lifetime experience. It’s no surprise than that this hike is one of the busiest in the park and so worth it.
2. Wolfe Ranch and Petroglyphs
The beginning of the trail passes by Wolfe Ranch and a panel of Petroglyphs, offering a unique historical experience within Arches National Park.
3. Family Friendly
While the hike does have a pretty long steady ascent (~1.2miles) and a few drop offs near the top, it’s still pretty kid friendly. Take lots of breaks, pack snacks, don’t rush, and make a morning out of it.
Located about 13.2 miles from the Visitor Center, follow the Main Park Road from the Visitor Center turning right onto Delicate Arch Road.
The parking area for the Wolfe Ranch and Delicate Arch trailheads are located on the first turn to the left. If you drive too far, you’ll reach the Delicate Arch Viewpoint trailhead and turn around.
From the trailhead take the path for 0.25 miles at which point you’ll see Wolfe Ranch on your left-hand side. You can stop now and visit the Petroglyphs and Wolfe Ranch or continue on and stop here during your return trip.
The trail starts to ascend after about 0.5 mile and continues the ascent at a pretty stable rate until you reach Delicate Arch. While the trail starts out as a dirt/gravel path it changes to a slick rock path at around the 0.75 mark.
Hiking on slick rock is similar to walking on a cement sidewalk, but a little more uneven. On a sunny day the sun reflects off the rock making it feel hotter than it really is.
Since we hike with our kids, we take plenty of breaks and while it takes longer to get to the top. There are few shaded places on the trail so finding one is a jem!
Breaks also give a chance to soak in and admire the surrounding views. As you climb near the top of the slick rock there are especially good views of the landscape.
Once on the slickrock follow the cairns to the top of the slick rock section which is about 1.1 miles from the trailhead. Here the trail bends to the left and brings you down a rocky area where you’ll walk on and off through sand for about 0.25 miles.
Once you’re back on the hard-packed ground, you’ll also be in the section of the trail that has some steeper drops. If you are afraid of heights stay close to the highwall of the trail and you’ll be fine. The path is quite wide through here so there’s no real need to get right up to the edge. As you walk through this area keep an eye out for the Twisted Doughnut Arch high up on the wall. It’s possible to climb up here from a couple areas on the trail, but it is very steep.
Finally, near the top of the trail, the path rounds a bend and Delicate Arch comes in full view. From here there is a viewing area where you can look at the arch from a distance or you can continue on with the throngs of other hikers to wait for your turn to get up close and personal with this incredible free-standing arch.
And since you’ve already hiked 1.5 miles to see it, it really is worth getting that iconic picture with the same arch that adorns Utah’s license plates! Just be careful hiking in this area as the bowl in front of Delicate Arch has a very steep drop and in 2019 2 hikers died after falling in.
Why is this hike moderate?
Hiking to Delicate Arch is still a pretty family friendly hike. Although, it’ll take longer if hiking with small kids and they may need several breaks. The elevation gain is around 610 ft on a steady incline for over a mile which is what makes this hike moderate. A baby backpack is really helpful if hiking with toddlers as they may get tired legs.
More Hikes to Choose From
Check out this and other hikes in Arches National Park and Moab, Ut.
Length: 5.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 680 ft
The trail takes you to Double O, Navajo, and Partition Arches. It’s one of the more challenging hikes in the park, but totally worth it.
Length: 1.9 miles- 2.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 259 ft
Landscape Arch is one of the must-see arches in Arches National Park. At 306 ft long, Landscape Arch is one of (if not) the longest arches in the world.
Length: 0.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 45 ft
Balanced Rock Trail in Arches National Park is a family friendly, accessible trail that takes you to a viewing point of this seemingly gravity defying rock.