Is the Hike to Delicate Arch Scary?

A group of people hiking near Delicate Arch, Utah, USA.

Here at Outdoor Is Home, we’ve noticed something of a trend. Here’s the thing: many folks are asking around whether the hike to Delicate Arch is scary. If a person’s not introduced to the Delicate Arch hiking trail, there’s a chance they’d assume the hike ain’t so frightening. How can something delicate scare anyone, right? Well, we should take a closer look!

So, where’s the Delicate Arch hiking trail located anyway? What’s it named after? Also, why do certain folks find it scary? Needless to say, you’re about to find an answer to each of these questions (and more). Stay tuned!

The Delicate Arch Trail might be a bit scary for folks who have issues with height since the last part involves walking along a tall ledge. Also, there are folks who say standing under the arch itself can be frightening. Aside from that, the only things that might be scary are the lack of shade and the occasional windstorm. 

One can’t enjoy a full picture of just how scary (or not scary) the Delicate Arch hike is simply by reading the preview. Therefore, what you’re waiting for, read the whole thing!

Table of Contents

What is Delicate Arch and where is it located?

Before we venture into the talk about today’s main subject, let’s consider the basics. That being said, it’s not unusual to pose the following question: what is Delicate Arch and where is it located? Let’s find out!

First of all, let’s just say that the Delicate Arch is one of the most recognizable natural landmarks in the US state of Utah. We’re talking about a 52-foot tall (or 16-meter tall) natural, freestanding arch. Where can we see it? It’s located in the stunning Arches National Park, very close to the city of Moab in Grand County, Utah, USA.

As we’ve said, the arch we’re talking about here is pretty darn popular. It’s so well known that it ended up on Utah license plates. Also, it was featured on a postage stamp that commemorated the state’s hundredth anniversary of admission to the Union, back in 1996. Lastly, the Delicate Arch attracts many nature lovers throughout the country, and rare are those who can ignore its beauty.

Oh, and here’s some good old trivia for folks that enjoy it. Delicate Arch has many nicknames, mostly due to its recognizable shape. Therefore, let’s name a few of the nicknames locals like to use:

  • The Schoolmarm’s Bloomers. 
  • Bloomers Arch. 
  • Old Maids Bloomers. 
  • Pants Crotch. 
  • School Marm’s Pants. 

Okay, so it’s safe to say that most folks find the shape of the Delicate Arch highly pants-like (if there’s even such a word). If you’re to ask us, it looks a bit like a weird overwatch. Also, you’ll want to know that the origins of the arch’s official name remain unknown.

What is the Delicate Arch hiking trail?

Now that we know where to find the object, let’s consider the boogeyman in question. In other words, we’ll talk a little about the hiking trail that leads to the arch. That being said, let’s fill you in on the details:

  • It’s a 3.2 miles long (5.1 km) roundtrip. It’ll take you 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to reach the arch. 
  • Most probably, you’ll spend about 2-3 hours on the trail. 
  • The difficulty of the trail is considered moderate. 
  • The elevation gain is 550 ft. (168 meters). We’re talking about a steady uphill path.
  • Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to bring pets.

Speaking of hiking with pets, here’s whether you should feed your dog after a long hike.

Anyway, to reach the summit, you’ll pass the iconic Wolfe Ranch cabin and a wall of Ute Indian petroglyphs. Once you get all close & personal with the arch, you’ll get to enjoy a phenomenal view of your surroundings. Also, keep in mind that sunsets here are amazing. Therefore, that’s the busiest part of the day on the trail, as many folks, even hundreds of ’em, want to enjoy the scenery. This isn’t so surprising once you consider the fact that the arch is the busiest place in the whole Arches National Park.

How long is the hike to Delicate Arch?

Okay, so you might get the idea that some of the previously mentioned factors don’t quite add up. So, the hike is 3.2 miles long, but it takes you about 2-3 hours to finish it? Not to mention the elevation that’s not a scary one. So, what’s the deal?

Here’s your answer: while it would most probably take you somewhere about an hour to complete the hike, most folks like to chill next to the arch for quite some time. It makes no sense to hike your way up to the arch and head back the very same instant you came there, right? Right. That’s why the average time of completion is about 2-3 hours.

Also, are you up for some epic hiking trails? If so, check out this piece on hiking in Ireland.

How difficult is the hike to Delicate Arch?

You’ll want to know that most folks find the Delicate Arch Trail as a more strenuous hike in the Arches National Park. However, this has nothing to with its length. It’s strenuous because of slick rock and steep inclines. Not to mention that you’re exposed to the sun while you’re hitting the trail, there’s practically no shade you can count on.

Once you put all these facts together, it’s not hard to label Delicate Arch as a moderately difficult hike. Probably the most difficult parts of the trail are the steep climb and exposed rock drop right before your reach the arch itself. Folks that suffer from vertigo will want to know this. Still, other than that you can say that the Delicate Arch Trail is something you’d call a pretty straightforward hike. Here’s some extra info:

  • If you’re hiking during the summer, prepare yourself for some good old sweatiness. 
  • The hiking trail isn’t marked like your usual hikes are marked. Instead of a clear path, you’ll rely on following the piles of rock (cairns) for guidance on the path to the Delicate Arch. 

We’ll take a guess and say that it’s about time to consider the main question: is the hike to Delicate Arch scary or not?

A hiking tour watching the sunset at Delicate Arch summit.

Is the hike to Delicate Arch scary?

Okay, so the time has come for us to answer the question of all questions: is the hike to the Delicate Arch scary, and if so – why? Now, why would anyone think that the trail is scary? Maybe folks think the arch itself is scary, that it will fall on their heads while they’re enjoying the sunset? Let’s dive deeper into the subject matter!

As we’ve already noted, the path to Delicate Arch isn’t an easy one. However, it’s also not that difficult. It’s, by all standards, a moderate hike for an average person. During the first part of the hiking trail, the only scary thing you’ll encounter is the lack of shade. Now, near the end of the trial, there’s something most folks find a bit scary. Let’s elaborate!

So, what’s so different or special about that last bit? You’ll want to know that the last part of the trail is along a pretty wide ledge. Nothing scary about that, right? Well, you’ll need to take into consideration that a person uncomfortable with height will find this portion of the trail downright unpleasant. There were even stories about certain people choosing not to go past this point. So, yeah, that’s the first scary thing about this.

What’s the second scary thing about it?

Here’s the second scary thing: many folks note that walking under the arch can be a bit frightening. However, most of them add that hitting the trail for the second time and walking under the arch wasn’t as scary as the first time. What’s also “scary” is the fact that you’ll have to wait for quite some time to get a good picture of the Delicate Arch without someone standing beneath it. Additionally, you can easily end up frightened by the fact there are no free parking spaces near the trail on a busy day.

What about windstorms?

Oh, yeah, we almost forgot to mention that some people had other “scary” experiences on the trail, besides the things we’ve mentioned above. It’s not unusual to get caught up in a windstorm while you’re on the Delicate Arch trail. It’s nature’s way of saying: well, I hope you’ve well-prepared for this. Anyway, you’ll want to wear proper footwear (speaking of footwear, here’s how to keep your feet dry while hiking) and good amounts of water supplies. Don’t think of this hike as Disneyland. Quite the contrary!

Also, if you’ve found the Delicate Arch Trail interesting and you’re looking for similar scenery, check out the top-rated hiking trails in Arizona.

Final thoughts on the Delicate Arch trail being scary

So, that’s about all there’s to say on the subject of Delicate Arch being scary or not. As you could’ve read there’s nothing “too scary” about the hiking trail in question, or the object itself. It’s just that folks that have some issues with fear of heights might feel unpleasant near the end of the trail. Also, don’t forget to dress accordingly for the occasion and bring lots of water. If you’re on the lookout for more tips on hiking and other types of info, click right here.

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