Hiking to Delicate Arch with Kids (2023)

Arches National park in Utah was one of the highlights of our family road trip to the U.S. this summer. I did a lot of research in advance and prepared a day-to-day itinerary for our visit to Arches National Park with kids. There was just one big question mark: would we be able to do the most beautiful hike in the park, Delicate Arch with kids?

Spoiler alert – we did it! In this post, I share our experience hiking to Delicate Arch with our three children (ages 5, 5, and 7 at that time). At the bottom of this article, you can also find some practical information for this hike. Find out!


Delicate Arch – Introduction

Delicate Arch is one of the most famous geologic features in the world. The opening beneath the arch is 64 feet (19 m) high and 45 feet (14 m) wide, making it the largest free-standing arch in Arches National Park.

It’s even more impressive in reality than it is in the pictures, so no wonder it’s high on top of many visitors’ to-do list in Arches.

You can see the arch from the Delicate Arch viewpoint on the road, but it’s really far. So if you want to see Delicate Arch up close, be prepared to hike.

Hiking to Delicate Arch with Kids (1)

Arches National Park in Summer

We drove to Arches NP from the Rocky Mountains and as the altitude decreased, the temperatures rose by more than 20°F in just a couple of hours. It was over 106°F (41°C) when we arrived in Moab. All we wanted to do is jump in the swimming pool and not come out of the water for the rest of the day.

So that’s exactly what we did. We checked in at our hotel (we stayed at the Aarchway Inn, Moabthat is extremely conveniently located for visiting Arches National Park) and went swimming, not knowing whether we would be able to do any hiking that day, the next day, or the day after.

What an idea to come to Arches with kids at the end of July!

(Video) Hiking Delicate Arch Trail with Kids

Late in the afternoon, we saw more and more storm clouds gather in the distance. When the clouds finally covered the sun, we could breathe again. This was our chance to do some hiking in Arches National Park with kids, we thought!

So we quickly packed our backpack and drove to a nearby restaurant for early dinner. While we were eating, it started to rain. And when it rains in the desert, it pours. We could forget hiking in this weather!

Luckily for us, the rain stopped as quickly as it began and we headed straight to Arches National Park, conveniently located just outside the town.

Hiking to Delicate Arch with Kids

Hiking to Delicate Arch – Go at Sunset

It was past 6 PM when we entered the park. We knew that it would get dark around 8.30-9 PM at Arches in summer, and so we only had 2-3 hours for a 13 mile (21 km) drive along the Arches Scenic Road and a strenuous 3.2 miles (5.2 km) hike.

From the moment we entered the park, we wanted to stop for pictures at every corner. The landscape was stunning and the light was perfect for photography. We stopped once or twice. Of course, we did, I just couldn’t resist. But we quickly realized that we would have to drive straight to the Delicate Arch trailheadif we still wanted to try and do the hike.

Hiking to Delicate Arch with Kids (2)

Delicate Arch trail is described as a strenuous climb that takes 3 hours return, but we knew by now that hiking time indications are very generous in the U.S. (not like in Switzerland, as we found out later that same summer when we took the kids hiking to Oeschinensee UNESCO World Heritage site).

Rumour has it that Delicate Arch is most beautifulat sunset. If we walked fast, we could make it there just in time for the sunset!But we were still not even sure if we would be able to do the walk. I read that the parking lot at the trailhead of Delicate Arch hike fills up very quickly and especially in the evening.

We were driving there hoping for the best, but not knowing what we would find. You can imagine how relieved we were when we saw that there were plenty of empty spaces at the parking lot. I assume the storm scared many people away…

Hiking to Delicate Arch with Kids (3)
(Video) Delicate Arch hike with kids - Can the kids make it? (Arches National Park)

Delicate Arch Trail – What to Expect

We had never seen so many warning signs as at the Delicate Arch trailhead: carry water, use sun protection, wear hiking shoes, don’t hike if the storm approaches, etc. etc.

I have to say that we started the hike despite the fact that there were storm clouds nearby. We were lucky and the storm never came our way. In fact, it’s only thanks to those clouds that we could do this hike in 100°F (38°C) heat. I can’t imagine hiking to Delicate Arch with kids in summer when the sun is shining – there is practically no shade on this trail and the climb is quite steep.

We started the walk at the Wolfe Ranch – a one-room wooden cabin that belonged to the first settler in the area – John Wesley Wolfe.

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We took a short detour to seeUte rock art, and then slowly started climbing up the hill, hoping that the hike would take us less time than indicated.

I read somewhere that the trailto Delicate Arch is not always easy to follow. There were indeed hardly any signs along the way, but there were plenty of cairns and you really cannot go wrong as there are so many people doing this hike (I did my best to take pictures without the people, but it was quite busy on this trail…).

Hiking to Delicate Arch with Kids (6)

The first section of the trail is the most strenuous one as you gain quite some elevation, but the views are amazing! So you have a good excuse to stop and catch your breath once in a while.

Hiking to Delicate Arch with Kids (7)
(Video) 🏞 ARCHES NATIONAL PARK WITH KIDS 🥾 Must-Do Stops Near Moab 🏕 Delicate Arch Hike 👨‍👩‍👧‍👧

The most beautiful part of the hike is almost at the end, just before reaching Delicate Arch.Spectacular views all around! This part of the hike is a bit narrow and you have to cross the ledge, so make sure to hold on to your kids here.

Hiking to Delicate Arch with Kids (8)

My favorite section of the Delicate Arch trailwas at the very end of the trail(accidentally, this is also the part I filmed). You walk on the narrow path along the mountain ridge, enjoying the stunning landscape, and then all of the sudden you turn behind the corner, and here it is – the most beautiful Arch of Arches National Park. Take a look at the short video below.

We made it! Before our trip, we were not sure if we could hike to Delicate Arch with kids in summer, but with a little help from the clouds, we could do this fantastic hike.

It was busy at the Arch at sunset, but not as busy as I had expected after reading the reviews and seeing all those people along the way.

Many people just sat there waiting for the sunset, while some others lined up for an obligatory picture under the Arch. We took one too – you need a magnifying glass to see us, but it gives you an idea of how big the arch is.

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Afterwards we decided to look around a bit and discovered this amazing view towards the other side. All of a sudden we were all alone, just us and this amazing view.

We took way too many pictures of the Delicate Arch and left just before sunset. By the time we reached our car, it was dark already.

(Video) How to hike to the famous DELICATE ARCH in Arches National Park

Conclusion – You Can Hike the Delicate Arch Trail with Kids

Delicate Arch was really worth the hike, but this walk is not only about the arch itself. The views along the way are phenomenal and I would recommend this hike to everyone visiting the Arches. If you do one hike in the park, make it this one – it’s probably the most beautiful hike of the Arches National Park.

And yes, you can do the Delicate Arch trail with kids in summer, but try to avoid the heat of the day – go either very early in the morning or in the evening, just before the sunset.

READ ALSO: Best things to do in Arches NP with kids

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Delicate Arch Trail – Practical Info

  • The Delicate Arch trail is 3.2 miles (5.2 km) roundtrip and climbs 480 feet (146m). Trailhead is at the Wolfe Ranch parking area.
  • The hike to Delicate Arch with kids took us a bit less than 50 minutes each way, plus the time at the arch itself. This includes many photo stops along the way.
  • Wear hiking shoesfor this walk.
  • Bring a sun hat and sunscreen lotion. There is practically no shade on this trail.
  • Carry lots of water when hiking in Arches National Park, especially in summer. There is NO water available at the trailhead of the Delicate Arch trail.
  • Delicate Arch trail tends to get very busy, especially at sunset. A good alternative can be visiting early in the morning. If the parking lot is full, you can try to park at the Delicate Arch Viewpoint parking lot, but this will add another 2 miles to your hike.
  • It might be a good idea to carry a headlamp with you on this hike if planning to stay till after the sunset.

So, this is our guide for hiking to the Delicate Arch. For more ideas and tips for the best places to see, make sure to also check our complete guide to the very best things to do in Arches National Park!

If you are also planning to visit Canyonlands National Park, check out our day trip guide to Arches and Canyonlands.

If you are staying in the area longer, here you can find some inspiration for the best things to do in Moab. Also don’t miss our practical guide with information on where to stay near Arches National Park.

MORE FAMILY FUN NEARBY: Mesa Arch Trail and Rafting in Moab

TIP: If you are just starting to plan your trip to Moab – Arches National Park, you may want to check our suggestions for the Moab area itinerary. In that article, you can find detailed itineraries for any trip from 1 to 5 days. It will help you to plan your trip and make the most of the time that you have. Take a look!

If you found this post helpful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin this image!

(Video) Can Young Kids Do the Delicate Arch Hike? | Zimmerman Family Airstream: Vlog Ep. 25

Hiking to Delicate Arch with Kids (12)


How long does it take to walk to 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.

Is there a bathroom at the Delicate Arch Trailhead? ›

The Wolfe Ranch parking lot, which serves the Delicate Arch Trailhead, has toilets that are open year-round. But no drinking water is available here, so be sure to bring your own. Sunrise and sunset are both popular times to visit Delicate Arch.

How do you avoid crowds at Arches National park? ›

Where are the crowds?
  1. Park in designated areas only.
  2. Do not drive off roads.
  3. If a lot is full, do not wait for spots to open; move on, and try again later. More Places to Go.
  4. Never park on vegetation or in a manner that blocks traffic.
  5. Don't block the flow of traffic by waiting for a parking spot.
4 Oct 2022

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.

Can kids do Delicate Arch? ›

Conclusion – You Can Hike the Delicate Arch Trail with Kids

And yes, you can do the Delicate Arch trail with kids in summer, but try to avoid the heat of the day – go either very early in the morning or in the evening, just before the sunset.

Is Delicate Arch better at sunrise or sunset? ›

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.

Can you hike Delicate Arch with a baby? ›

All of that being said, this is definitely a doable hike with kids depending on your own comfort level. Babies and toddlers will need to be worn in carriers; no strollers are allowed. Young kids will need hand-holding when there is a drop-off and in the areas around Delicate Arch.

Can I enter Arches before 6AM? ›


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.

How early can you enter Arches National Park? ›

Yes, you may enter the park before 6 am or after 5 pm. Because entrance lines into the park may vary, we suggest arriving at 5:30 am or earlier.

Which is more crowded Canyonlands or Arches? ›

Crowds. Despite its larger size, Canyonlands gets only a little over half as many visitors as Arches! If you are looking for solitude, Canyonlands is the way to go. Still don't expect to be alone if visiting the Island in the Sky, but the crowds will not be as bad as you can expect in Arches.

Which is less crowded Canyonlands or Arches? ›

Canyonlands is slightly less crowded than its neighbor Arches National Park and receives only about half as many visitors a year, around 733,000. The vast majority of these visits occur March through October, with most of those occurring between June and August. Summer is certainly the peak travel season in the park.

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.

Where do you park for Delicate Arch? ›

To hike up to Delicate Arch, head to the Wolfe Ranch Trailhead on Delicate Arch Road. The parking lot can fill up fast on busy days so you can also park at the Delicate Arch Viewpoint Trailhead. Keep in mind that this will add another mile each way to your hike.

When did Delicate Arch collapse? ›

Around 2:45 pm, on September 1, 1991, people heard cracking and popping sounds coming from Landscape Arch, and two of them provided photos and video to the park. Royce Morrison was at the arch on that day and captured photographs of the rock fall after hearing the cracking noises.

What is the most popular arch in Arches National Park? ›

Without a doubt, Delicate Arch is the most famous natural stone arch in the world. Referred to as "The Arch" by many arriving visitors for whom it is No. 1 on their must-see lists, Delicate has an allure that is hard to explain but impossible to deny.

How scary is the hike to Delicate Arch? ›

The trail to Delicate Arch is moderately difficult for the average person who is reasonably fit. It begins easily enough near Wolfe Ranch and then gradually ascends over the slickrock. There is no shade. Some sections of the trail are a little steep.

Should kids wear shoes arch? ›

Most children do not need a special arch support. All toddlers younger than 16 months have flat feet and only fully develop an arch by 6-8 years old. The outer sole provides traction, cushioning, and flexibility to the shoe. Avoid very sticky and thick outer soles as they may cause stumbles and falls.

Can a 2 year old go on a hike? ›

Hiking with a 2 year old will take some patience, but it's a great way to let your toddler explore and burn some energy. Find some toddler friendly hikes near your home. Start small and hike often to build up to longer hikes. Remember to pack plenty of snacks, an extra outfit, and a garbage bag for dirty diapers.

Do you have to hike to see 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.”

What time can you see the Milky Way in the Arches? ›

Since Arches is located in the northern hemisphere, the best time to see the Milky Way is during the summer season. The Milky Way core is visible above the horizon between April and October each year; it rises earlier in the night as the year goes on.

How long will Delicate Arch last? ›

On geologic timescales, Delicate Arch will exist for only the blink of an eye. But don't despair—although all the famous arches will crumble and collapse within a few thousand years, replacements will continue to be sculpted out of Utah's bedrock for a very long time to come.

Can you take a 3 year old hiking? ›

Given ample water and snacks, 2- to 4-year-olds can usually hike a mile or so in good weather if the terrain is safe and predictable and you take breaks. But be aware, you'll probably end up carrying your child at times, especially on the way home.

How far can a 3 year old hike? ›

Canale recommends that parents carry kids, at least for most of the hike, when they're toddlers. For this young age group, we recommend sticking to outings less than two miles. Just getting out and going any distance with kids three and under should be considered a “win.”

Can a 4 year old hike? ›

4-5 Year Olds

Most 4 and 5 year old kids can hike 2-4 miles fairly easy. At this age, they are also generally enthusiastic about exploring nature and will come on the hike willingly. However, 4 and 5 year old kids are easily distracted.

What time is Arches free? ›

The visitor center and park store are open daily from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, closing early on Thanksgiving (November 24). Rangers provide visitor services and the park store is open daily, except Christmas Day (December 25).
Arches Visitor Center.
Christmas DayDecember 25, 2022Closed
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Do you need ticket timed entry Arches? ›

Tickets will be required from 7 am to 4 pm daily April 1 through October 31, 2022. Timed entry tickets are required in addition to your park pass OR entrance fee. You may enter the park before 7 am or after 4 pm without a timed entry ticket.

Are there easy hikes in Arches? ›

The best easy hikes in Arches are The Windows, Landscape Arch, Double Arch, Sand Dune Arch, and Park Avenue.

What can you not miss at Arches National Park? ›

8 Things You Can't Miss on FIRST VISIT to 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.
18 May 2022

Is Arches free after 5? ›

What time of day can I enter Arches National Park without a reservation? If you enter the park prior to 6:00 AM or after 5:00 PM you do not need an entrance ticket.

What to do if Arches National Park is full? ›

Arches National Park is generally open 24 hours a day, year-round. On very busy days, when parking lots fill to capacity we temporarily delay additional park entries. Visitors who encounter a closed gate may try back in a few hours or consider visiting other nearby destinations.

Which is better Bryce or Arches? ›

Bryce and Arches are both stunning. But Arches offer more variety. You can see a good portion of Bryce just from overlooks. And while the view of the hoodoos is otherworldly, if you're not a huge hoodoo fan, the view can start to grow monotonous.

What is the best month to visit Arches National Park? ›

The best time to visit Arches National Park is April through May and September through October, when daytime temperatures average about 60 to 80 degrees. In the summer, temperatures can exceed 100 degrees, which can make exploring the park's trails very uncomfortable.

Is Moab a hippie town? ›

But for the hippie lifestyle nowhere tops Moab, a green town nestled between red rocks and the jumping-off point for Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. The town draws hippies who go out and do whatever it is hippies do in a desert full of otherworldly rock formations.

What is the least visited National Park in Utah? ›

Capitol Reef National Park is Utah's least-visited national park. That's preposterous, but we're not complaining. It's an oasis with untouched beauty and few crowds.

Should I go to Arches or Zion? ›

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.

Can you do Arches and Canyonlands in the same day? ›

Canyonlands and Arches are two national parks that sit side-by-side near Moab, Utah. Since these parks are neighbors, it is possible to visit both of them in one very busy day.

Which is better Canyonlands or Arches? ›

You can still visit the short (and gorgeous) hikes in Canyonlands if you don't have time or don't want to do a more difficult/longer day hike. We preferred Canyonlands due to the longer trails and much fewer people. But if you're looking for shorter trails and lots of arches, Arches might be your better bet.

How far apart are Arches and Canyonlands? ›

Getting from Arches to Canyonlands takes about 30 minutes. Canyonlands is just under 30 miles away. From Arches National Park you turn on to the US-191 N for 6.5 miles until you reach the junction for the UT-313 W.

Can you do Arches in a few hours? ›

In a just a few hours' time, you can drive all the paved park roads, plus stop and get out at several of the viewpoints. Which is much better than stopping in the middle of the road to take a picture. Set out on foot. This is hands down the best way to get a sense of the scale of Arches.

Is there free parking at St Louis arch? ›

However, you cannot park for longer than two hours. Also, know that on-street parking is enforced Monday through Saturday 8am to 7pm, and parking outside of these hours is free! To find a parking spot quicker, type in your address in the navigation bar or use one of these maps: The Gateway Arch.

How long does it take to hike Delicate Arch trail? ›

Check out this 3.2-mile out-and-back trail near Moab, Utah. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 1 h 35 min to complete. This is a very popular area for hiking, so you'll likely encounter other people while exploring.

Can your arch fall suddenly? ›

It usually occurs suddenly because of a high-impact injury related to a fall from a height, a motor vehicle accident or participation in sports, and it may be associated with fractures or other injuries.

What is the best time of day to go to arches? ›

Late afternoon and evening visits can be the most enjoyable. The lighting is better for photography and viewing the park features, temperatures are cooler, and the parking areas and trails are less crowded. More than 1.5 million visitors come to Arches National Park each year, and that number is growing.

Why is the Delicate Arch so famous? ›

In a park with over 2,000 stone arches, this particular free-standing arch has become a widely recognized symbol of the state of Utah and one of the most famous geologic features in the world. The light opening beneath the arch is 46 feet high and 32 feet wide, making it the largest free-standing arch in the park.

What are 5 facts about Arches National Park? ›

Basic 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?
8 Dec 2022

How long is the Navajo arch hike? ›

Get to know this 2.9-mile out-and-back trail near Thompson, Utah. Generally considered an easy route, it takes an average of 1 h 21 min to complete.

Can you do Arches in 1 day? ›

It is possible to hike all of these trails in one day, but if you are here with kids, visiting during the hot summer months, or just not accustomed to hiking, you might want to pick and choose what you do. Hiking to Delicate Arch is a must-do, since it is the only way to get up close to this arch.

How long does it take to go through the Arches? ›

The scenic drive in Arches is about 22 miles one way, so about 45 miles in total. You should count at least 4-5 hours to drive the entire road and make short stops (5-30min each) at all the scenic viewpoints.

Is the Delicate Arch trail hard? ›

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.

How long does it take to hike 6 miles? ›

One of the most simple and well-known ways to calculate hiking time is Naismith's Rule. So a 6-mile hike with 2,000 feet in elevation gain should take 3 hours (2hrs + 1 hr).

Where do you park for the Delicate Arch hike? ›

To hike up to Delicate Arch, head to the Wolfe Ranch Trailhead on Delicate Arch Road. The parking lot can fill up fast on busy days so you can also park at the Delicate Arch Viewpoint Trailhead. Keep in mind that this will add another mile each way to your hike.

Can I get into Arches without a reservation? ›

Yes. A timed entry reservation is required to enter the park even if you have an existing pass. Annual passes cover the payment of entrance fees, so annual or senior pass holders only need to pay the $2 reservation fee.

Can you see Arches without hiking? ›

Visit Arches from the Road

If you don't have the time or ability to hike, don't worry! You can still see many famous arches and rock formations from the scenic drive. You can drive the park roads and visit viewpoints to see some notable features of Arches National Park.

Can you enter Arches after 6 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.

How early can you enter Arches? ›

Timed entry tickets are required in addition to your park pass OR entrance fee. You may enter the park before 7 am or after 4 pm without a timed entry ticket.

Does it cost money to go to Arches? ›

If you will be driving a bus in Arches, please view our Bus Information page. Non-commercial group fees (per vehicle): Vehicle capacity of 15 or less: $30. Vehicle capacity of 16-25: $15 per person age 16 and older, not to exceed $40.


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