Delicate Arch is one of the main attractions in Arches National Park. Most likely, this arch is high on your list of places to visit in the park. In order to have the best experience, there are a few things to know before you go. Here are our tips for visiting Delicate Arch, including what to expect on the hike and several unique photo spots of the arch.
Note: We have visited Delicate Arch on multiple occasions. The photos in this post are from our two most recent visits. We were here at sunrise in December 2018 and on a late afternoon in November 2020. The photos of the arch are labeled with the times of our visit, because the time of day and lighting conditions dramatically change the appearance of Delicate Arch.
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A Few Quick Facts About Delicate Arch
Delicate Arch is one of the most famous geologic structures in the world. It is so iconic that you will see it thousands of times as you road trip through Utah…on local license plates.
It may not look like it in photos, but Delicate Arch is massive. The opening below the arch is 46 feet high, making this the largest free-standing arch in Arches National Park. It’s not until you see a photo of someone standing under the arch (or you stand under it yourself) that you get an idea of just how big it is.
Tim and Kara, sunrise in December.
The Olympic torch was carried under Delicate Arch for the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Tips for Visiting Delicate Arch
#1 The Only Way to Get to Delicate Arch is by Hiking
To get a close up view of Delicate Arch you need to do some hiking. Unlike Balanced Rock and several of the arches that you can see from the road, Delicate Arch is located in the “backcountry.”
To get to Delicate Arch, it is a 3-mile round trip hike with 480 feet of elevation gain. This hike, plus time to view the arch, takes most people 2 to 3 hours. The National Park Service describes this hike as difficult. I think “difficult” is a bit of a stretch, unless you happen to be hiking midday during the summer months.
Delicate Arch Trail Elevation Profile
Please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.
The hike starts at the Wolfe Ranch Cabin. Park in the large parking lot next to the cabin and look for the sign that marks the trailhead.
The first section of the trail is an easy walk on a graded gravel path. There are some short climbs here but nothing too strenuous.
The hardest part of the hike is the middle third. This is where you will walk up a steep section of slickrock. Along the way, follow the rock cairns or the people in front of you. Hiking to Delicate Rock is a very popular thing to do so most likely you will share the trail with other hikers. The higher you climb, the better the view gets over the park.
The view from the hiking trail, looking back towards the parking lot.
Once past the slickrock, the trail levels out. Now you are hiking among giant domes of sandstone rock. Continue to follow the cairns. The last section of trail is along a ledge that hugs a rock wall. There is a drop-off here on one side so be careful.
As you walk up this trail, keep an eye out for an opening in the rock wall to your right. There is an arch here, called the Twisted Doughnut, that offers a very unique view of Delicate Arch (keep reading to see photos, or skip ahead to see a photo from Twisted Doughnut Arch). If you get to the trail shown in the photo below (with Kara), you went too far.
The last short section of trail has a drop-off on one side, so be careful here. Kara is standing on one of the narrowest sections, to give you an idea of just how wide (or narrow 😊) this trail is.
Once you round the final turn, you get your first up-close view of Delicate Arch.
First view of Delicate Arch (photo taken in the afternoon in November).
RELATED: Devils Garden Trail: The Best Hike in Arches National Park
#2 Best Time to Photograph Delicate Arch
The best time to photograph the arch is at sunset. At the end of the day, the warm light from the setting sun illuminates Delicate Arch, casting it in a warm glow. This makes the arch look fiery red during sunset.
Sunset is a popular time to visit Delicate Arch so it can be crowded, especially during the summer months.
Sunrise is another popular time to photograph the arch. However, the sun rises behind the arch, creating a much different effect then seeing Delicate Arch at sunset.
Delicate Arch just past sunrise (in December)
Delicate Arch in the late afternoon in November
If you plan to visit Delicate Arch at sunrise or sunset, make sure you pack a headlamp, warm clothing (it can get chilly once the sun sets), plenty of water, and snacks. If you have a wide-angle lens, pack that in your bag, too.
#3 Best Time to Avoid the Crowds
The best time to see Delicate Arch without the crowds is early in the morning, just past sunrise. If you want the chance to have Delicate Arch to yourself (or just share the experience with a handful of people) it’s worth rolling out of bed early and heading right to Delicate Arch.
We visited Delicate Arch just past sunrise on a cloudy December morning. In this case, the clouds worked in our favor. They obstructed the harsh sunlight so I could take photos of the arch without it being too back lit. There were about 10 to 15 people here, which wasn’t too bad, considering it was a holiday week. By the time we started the hike back to the parking lot, more and more people began to roll in.
Delicate Arch was more crowded when we were here in the afternoon in November, but it really wasn’t too bad. There is a lot of room to spread out, but if you want a photo under the arch, you will have to wait in line for a little bit (it was about a five minute wait when we were here).
#4 Don’t Miss the View from the Twisted Doughnut
Tyler gets the credit for “discovering” this spectacular viewpoint. Just before you round the bend to get your first view of Delicate Arch, there is a small opening in the giant rock wall to your right. This arch, called Twisted Doughnut Arch, is one of the most unique spots to take a photo of Delicate Arch.
Twisted Doughnut Arch (photo taken in the afternoon in November)
The view from the opening (photo taken in the afternoon in November)
It wasn’t until after our visit that I learned that this little arch has a name (and maybe the best name of all the arches in the park). So no, we didn’t discover it, although I never read anything about Twisted Doughnut Arch before our visit to Arches. Tyler just happened to spot it during our hike.
#5 There’s More than Just the “Iconic Shot”
Rather than just taking a few photos from the first viewpoint, take some extra time to view Delicate Arch from numerous other viewpoints.
Photo taken at sunrise in December.
The arch sits next to a large “bowl.” You can walk out to the far end of the bowl for another unique photo of Delicate Arch.
Photo taken at sunrise in December.
Photo taken in the afternoon in November.
#6 Expect Scorching Hot Conditions in the Summer
During the summer months, Arches National Park can feel like a furnace. In July, average daytime highs hover just below 100°F. On many days, midday temperatures can creep up over the 100° mark. There is zero shade on the trail and the sandstone rock absorbs the heat from the sun, which makes conditions feel even hotter.
If you are visiting from June through August, consider skipping this hike midday. Temperatures begin to cool off around sunset. Or, get here early to avoid the heat (and the crowds).
Bring sunscreen and carry at least 2 liters of water per person.
Before you go, get updated conditions on the national park service website.
Read more about Arches National Park in our article 16 Amazing Things to do in Arches National Park.
Are you planning a visit to Arches National Park? If you have questions or want to share your experience, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information about Utah
UTAH ITINERARY: If you need ideas on how to plan your road trip through Utah, check out our 7 to 10 day Mighty 5 Itinerary, our Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef Road Trip, and our 14-day American Southwest Itinerary.
ARCHES NATIONAL PARK: Take a look at our Arches National Park Travel Guide for important travel planning tips, sample itineraries, advice on when to go, where to stay, and to see all of our articles about Arches.
ONE DAY IN ARCHES: If you are short on time, check out our One Day in Arches National Park to learn the best way to spend your time here.
ISLAND IN THE SKY, CANYONLANDS: The Island in the Sky district is the most popular area of Canyonlands to visit. Learn how to spend one perfect day at Island in the Sky and how to hike the Syncline Loop and Gooseberry Trail.
NATIONAL PARKS: Learn more about the national parks and get a FREE printable checklist in our US National Parks Checklist.
USA ROAD TRIPS: Planning your next big adventure in the USA? Check our our USA Road Trip Guide for travel ideas and sample itineraries.
We have TONS more information about Utah in our Utah Travel Guide and the United States in our USA Travel Guide.
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- 10 Best National Parks to Visit in December (USA)
- 16 Amazing Things to do in Arches National Park (+ HELPFUL Tips)
- Best Way to Spend One Day in Canyonlands and Arches National Parks
What is best time of day to photograph Delicate Arch? ›
The best time to photograph the arch is at sunset. At the end of the day, the warm light from the setting sun illuminates Delicate Arch, casting it in a warm glow. This makes the arch look fiery red during sunset. Sunset is a popular time to visit Delicate Arch so it can be crowded, especially during the summer months.What are 5 facts about Arches National Park? ›
- Location: Utah.
- Acreage: 76,519 acres or 119 square miles.
- Visitation: 1.8 million in 2021.
- Highest Elevation: Elephant Butte 5,653 feet.
- Lowest Elevation: Visitor Center 4,085 feet.
- Average annual precipitation: 8-10 inches.
- When Did It Become A National Park?
Longest arch: Landscape Arch has a light opening 306 feet (93.3 meters) across. Tallest arch: Double Arch South has a vertical light opening of 112 feet (34.1 meters). Rock colors: Red sandstones in the park contain iron oxide. Greenish rocks also contain iron, but in a reduced (non-oxidized) state.What are the best two times of day to take a photograph? ›
The best time to take photos is, without a doubt, golden hour. This is the hour or two before sunset or after sunrise. The sunlight is coming at an angle making it less harsh, and it has a warm golden glow. Golden hour is every photographer's ideal time to shoot because of the beautiful lighting that can be achieved.Is sunrise or sunset better at Delicate Arch? ›
Is Delicate Arch better for Sunrise or Sunset? If you're hoping for the best experience, i.e. fewer crowds, sunrise is going to be the best time to hike Delicate Arch Trail. Keep in mind, in order to beat the crowds, you want to aim to be at Delicate Arch before the sun breaks the horizon.What is arches famous for? ›
Arches National Park has the densest concentration of natural stone arches in the world. There are over 2,000 documented arches in the park, plus pinnacles, balanced rocks, fins and other geologic formations. Some are more notable than others.What can you not miss at Arches National Park? ›
- Stop at Park Avenue Viewpoint and (optional) Hike Park Avenue Trail.
- See the Balanced Rock.
- Stop at Garden of Eden Viewpoint.
- Visit Double Arch.
- Visit the Windows and Turrets Arches.
- Hike Devils Garden Trail and see Landscape Arch.
- See Dune Arch and Broken Arch.
An arch is a vertical curved structure that spans an elevated space and may or may not support the weight above it, or in case of a horizontal arch like an arch dam, the hydrostatic pressure against it.What is the longest hike in Arches National Park? ›
Devils Garden Primitive Loop – 7-8 Miles
The longest maintained trail in the park, this 7.2-mile hike is for the advanced hiker as there are narrow ledges and exposure along the way. You'll pass eight arches along the way, as well as the Dark Angel spire, a 125-foot feature that attracts rock climbers.
Two days in Arches is ideal though and would give you enough time to explore the Fiery Furnace on the ranger-led hike and do a few more of the longer hikes. One day is really all you need at the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park if you're sticking to the overlooks and shorter trails.
What is the best arch to see at Arches National Park? ›
1. Delicate Arch. The most famous arch in the park and quite possibly the world. This is on the Utah license plate, and people come from all over the world just to see and photograph this arch.What is the hardest hike? ›
Everest Base Camp (EBC) The Everest Base Camp Trek in the Himalayas in Nepal is one of the most famous and also, the hardest hikes in the world.How long does it take to hike the Delicate Arch? ›
How Long Is The Hike? The Delicate Arch trail is 3.2 miles long, round-trip. While you may be able to finish the hike in under an hour, most visitors will spend some time at the arch. Allow between two and three hours to complete the hike without being rushed.What is the 3/4 rule in photography? ›
What is the rule of thirds? The rule of thirds is a composition guideline that places your subject in the left or right third of an image, leaving the other two thirds more open.What is the 2 second rule in photography? ›
It's easy: look through the viewfinder, center the subject, and press the shutter button, right? Next time, try skipping step two — take those few seconds to put your subject off-center, and see how much more engaging your pictures become. Say hello to the Rule of Thirds.What is the 30 60 rule in photography? ›
The idea is that the 60 percent color anchors the space and also serves as a backdrop for what comes next. Your 30 percent is the secondary color. You'll be using half as much of this color as your main color.How do you avoid crowds at Delicate Arch? ›
- Park in designated areas only.
- Do not drive off roads.
- If a lot is full, do not wait for spots to open; move on, and try again later. More Places to Go.
- Never park on vegetation or in a manner that blocks traffic.
- Don't block the flow of traffic by waiting for a parking spot.
Use a wide angle lens to capture the arch and the surround area for a big field of view. Use a long lens if you want to fill your frame mostly with the arch, you'll still get some of the background mesa and mountains but a long zoom will allow you much more compositional freedom.Why is Delicate Arch so famous? ›
The free-standing Delicate Arch is 52 feet tall and is arguably the most widely recognized landmark in Arches National Park, if not all of Utah. It is depicted on Utah license plates and a postage stamp commemorating Utah's centennial anniversary of admission to the Union in 1996.Why is arches red? ›
The color of desert varnish depends on its chemistry. More manganese-rich desert varnish is black, while more iron-rich desert varnish is red or orange. Black streaks of desert varnish can be seen in Arches National Park after rain events as pictured below.
How did arches get its name? ›
The Colorado Plateau is covered with layers of Jurassic-era sandstones; the type most prevalent within the Park is called Entrada Sandstone, a type that lends itself to the arch cutting that gives the park its name.Who built the arch and why? ›
During a nationwide competition in 1947-48, architect Eero Saarinen's inspired design for a 630-foot stainless steel arch was chosen as a perfect monument to the spirit of the western pioneers. Construction of the Arch began in 1963, and was completed on October 28, 1965, for a total cost of less than $15 million.Are there bears in Arches National Park? ›
Did you know that southeast Utah is bear country? Black bears wander from nearby mountains, and have been spotted in Arches National Park. Bears are omnivorous and will forage for food and water over a large area.Do you need bug spray in Arches National Park? ›
Add bug spray to your Arches packing list. People always recommend bug sprays high in deet but personally these don't seem to work that well for me. The ones that work best for me are citronella scented bug sprays.What does arch symbolize? ›
In mythology, it represents the door between time and space through which one passes to enter another world. The arch signifies the opening to new perspectives, the fact of seeing on the other side. It is used in some cultures as a symbol of renewal.What are the 3 major parts of an arch? ›
Parts Of Arch | Components Of Arch
Parts Of Arch: 1. Abutment Or Pier, 2. Arch Ring, 3. Spandril, 4.
The catenary curve is the strongest shape for an arch which supports only its own shape. Freely hanging cables naturally form a catenary curve. The hexagon is the strongest shape known. Not many people know this but if you want something to hold a lot of weight pick a hexagon.What is the most difficult trail in Moab? ›
The trail consists of fins, steep 'climbs, and Moab's famous slickrock. A stock 4x4 can make it, but you will have to bypass some of the more difficult and famous obstacles such as Hell's Gate, Escalator, or one of the many hot tubs. Traffic depending, expect to spend a few hours on the trail.
If you want a couple of long hikes, Zion. If you want a lot of shorter hikes with a couple slightly longer, then Arches. With one day in Zion you could hike the Narrows and Angels Landing (assuming you can get a permit) or you could do a few other hikes and stop at pull-offs on the east side.Are there mountain lions in Arches National Park? ›
Mostly nocturnal animals include kangaroo rats, woodrats (also called packrats), and most other small desert rodents, skunks, ringtails, foxes, bobcats, mountain lions, bats, and owls.
Can you enter Arches before 6AM? ›
VISIT BEFORE 6AM OR AFTER 5PM
Consider visiting the park before 6 am or after 5 pm. Reservations are not required during those times. Sunrise and sunset are two of the most beautiful times to visit and photograph Arches National Park. The gates are open 24 hours/day, 7 days/week unless all of the parking lots are full.
Arches Visitor Center.
|Christmas Day||December 25, 2022||Closed|
Does the park close at night? No, the park is open 24 hours a day. View Operating Hours and Seasons. Arches is a great place for stargazing.Is Moab or Arches better? ›
Arches is the more accessible and thus more popular park between Arches and Canyonlands. The landscapes are epic, it's a short 5-10 minute drive from Moab, and most of the Arches hikes are short, easy, and often paved jaunts.Can you see Delicate Arch without hiking? ›
For those who aren't up for the hike, there are two other viewing options: The Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint just down the road only requires a 100-yard walk over flat ground to get a fine look at the arch from a mile away.Is 1 day enough in Arches? ›
Arches National Park is a relatively small national park with a handful of must-see sights. With one day in Arches, you can visit these top sights and a few off-the-beaten-path places. After multiple visits to Arches National Park, including two visits in the past two years, we have learned a lot about this park.What is the golden rule of hiking? ›
The best thing you can do when hiking is to remember the “golden rule”: treat others the way you would want to be treated. Here are some main points of hiking etiquette. Hikers coming uphill have the right of way. If you're descending the trail, step aside and give space to the people climbing up.What is the shortest hike in Arches National Park? ›
In fact, you can see Balanced Rock from the comfort of your car as you drive through the southern region of the park. Additionally, there is an extremely short loop trail if you would like to walk toward the base of Balanced Rock (only 0.3 miles).
- 1) Foothills Trail, South Carolina. 76 miles. Average Elevation ~1,000 feet. ...
- 2) Florida Trail, Florida. 1,500 miles. Average Elevation ~500 feet. ...
- 3) Greenstone Ridge Trail, Michigan. 41 miles. Average Elevation ~1,000 feet. ...
- 4) Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail, New Hampshire. 48 miles.
Great views, if you're not in the clouds. Without question, Golden Ears is one of the most challenging hikes on Vancouver Trails due to it's length, elevation gain, and ruggedness from not being maintained as well as other trails.
What is the best time of day to do a photoshoot? ›
The last hour before sunset and the first hour after sunrise are coveted by professional photographers. Referred to as “the golden hour” or “magic hour,” these times provide the perfect light to capture stunning photos.Is it better to take photos in the morning or evening? ›
The best time of day to take portrait photos is in the couple hours after sunrise and the couple hours before sunset. Within that time, it is better to shoot after the morning golden hour or before the evening golden hour.What time of day is light the softest? ›
You may have already heard of the term Golden Hour, or Magic Hour. The golden hour period is approximately between one half hour before sunrise, and one hour after sunrise. Golden hour is so named because early morning light is soft, and of course, golden!What should you not do before a photoshoot? ›
- 1) Try out a new hairstyle.
- 2) Experiment with new skin products.
- 3) Spend too much time in the sun.
- 4) Eat food or a meal that's sure to make a mess.
- 5) Stay up all night.
- 6) Get worked up about your photoshoot.
Foods that are high in sodium should be avoided as much as possible the night before a photoshoot as they cause a lot of water retention and can leave you looking extremely bloated. Avoid sugary and caffeinated drinks like sodas, coffee and alcohol.What time is worst for photography? ›
12:00 p.m. — 6 Hours since Sunrise
No matter what month it is, mid-day will always have the harshest shadows. The sun is directly overhead and there is no angle you can turn where to sun will be behind you!
- Choose a shallow depth of field. ...
- Discover enchanting locations. ...
- Seek out soft lighting. ...
- Illuminate you work with lens flares. ...
- Add psychedelic drama with prisms. ...
- Play with long exposures. ...
- Get hazy with freelensing. ...
- Build a connection and sense of intimacy.
The Delicate Arch trail is 3.2 miles long, round-trip. While you may be able to finish the hike in under an hour, most visitors will spend some time at the arch. Allow between two and three hours to complete the hike without being rushed.How do you photograph precious stones? ›
To exhibit a gemstone's best color, lighting should be diffused rather than direct. Diffused lighting scatters light, softens shadows and provides uniform lighting. This can be achieved by placing a translucent white glass, plastic, or cloth between the light source and the gem.What is blue hour photography? ›
When we talk about blue hour photography, we refer to pictures taken during a specific window of time that generally happens twice a day (well, apart a bunch of exceptions) – specifically when the sun still needs to rise in the morning and right after it has set in the evening.
What is the 500 rule for night photography? ›
You take the number 500 and divide by the focal length of your lens. For example, if you have a 20-mm wide angle lens, then 500 / 20 = 25. The 500 rule measures the maximum exposure time you can shoot before the stars become blurry or star trails appear.Should I shower before picture day? ›
Being clean will help you look and feel your best in front of the camera. Shampoo and condition your hair and create a lather with your soap or body wash. Go over your whole body with the soap from top to bottom. It's best if you take a shower either the night before or the morning of picture day.What is 30 minutes before sunrise called? ›
The blue hour generally lasts the 20 to 30 minutes just after sunset and just before sunrise.What month do the nights get lighter? ›
Evenings will start to get lighter as they gradually shift to become equal in length to mornings – a process which officially takes place on the Spring Equinox. The Spring Equinox will see both mornings and evenings last for roughly 12 hours each from Sunday March 20 2022.What is the time just before sunset called? ›
In its most general sense, twilight is the period of time before sunrise and after sunset, in which the atmosphere is partially illuminated by the sun, being neither totally dark or completely lit. However there are three categories of twilight that are defined by how far the sun is below the horizon.