Colorado Plateau Photo Odyssey 13: Delicate Arch

Arches SP13-211

Delicate Arch is perhaps the most famous natural arch in the world. It rises 65 feet above it’s base on the edge of a large butte-like orangish sandstone formation in Arches National Park in eastern Utah. It requires a bit of a hike to reach the arch. It’s a 1.5 mile hike involving 480 feet of elevation change:

The hike begins at the parking lot. During the busy time of year (which can include April through October), the parking lot at the Delicate Arch trailhead can fill by noon; and it’s almost certainly going to be filled in the evening, when large numbers of people climb up the trail to see the arch bathed in the warm light of a setting sun. From the parking lot, the trail heads past Wolfe Ranch, which consists nowadays of merely a small cabin half sunken in the ground:

From Wolfe Ranch you cross the Salt River. Here’s a shot looking across the bridge toward the parking lot:

In April, the Salt River seemed to have a fair share of water in it. I was here in September of 2011 and don’t remember any water in the river.

The trail climbs over a ridge and then, after passing a small gully, begins the climb toward Delicate Arch. The scenery is of the typical dry high desert Utah variety:

The place can be crowded in the evening, with plenty of photographers:

Some people even bring their dogs (which technically is not permitted):

The arch itself looks even more impressive in “real” life than it does in a photo. You can get a sense of how big the arch is in the following two pics featuring human critters, the first with a photographer, the second with some Buddhist monks:

The evening I was there in late April featured mostly cloudy, drab skies. But just before sunset a crack in the clouds allowed the sun to shine out and pour golden rays on the arch: