Updated: Sep 9
It has been given many names. Early settlers called it Schoolmarms Bloomers and Cowboy Chaps. Its official name is Delicate Arch, but no matter what you call it their is no name to adequately describe the grandeur and majesty of this natural arch.
While you have probably seen photos of the Arch this is truly a natural wonder that must be experienced in person. I’ve hiked to a lot of places and seen a lot of beautiful landscapes, but there are few that elicit such an emotional response upon viewing as this.
As you round the last corner of the hike and see the arch standing defiantly in front of you, if you don’t feel your heart skip a beat and an overwhelming sense of wonder, there is truly something wrong with you. The arch teeters on the edge of a cliff and is surrounded on the other side by a sandstone ampitheatre where hikers can contemplate the Arches beauty and creation.
Hiking to Delicate Arch
The trail to Delicate Arch begins at Wolfe Ranch. The trail stretches 1.8 miles and climbs almost 480 feet to Delicate Arch. The trail terrain includes rock, sandstone and loose dirt. Near the top there is some exposure to cliffs, but for the most part, it is an easy to moderate trail that can be traveled by most. During the summer it can get very hot on the trail, so be sure to bring plenty of water. Hiking in the early morning or late afternoon can make the walk a little cooler and provide better light for picture taking.
Delicate Arch stands perched on a cliff, while surrounded on the other side by a natural sandstone ampitheatre. On most summer days this natural ampitheatre is packed with people taking pictures and waiting for their turn to stand underneath the arch. Despite the large numbers of people, the arch seems to inspire almost a quiet reverance. To get the best view of the arch go in the evening when the sun is low on the horizon.
Delicate Arch View Point
If you don’t have the time or ability to make the hike to the top of the arch, there is a viewpoint of Delicate Arch 1 mile past Wolfe Ranch. The viewpoint has a boardwalk that takes you about 100 yard to a point where Delicate Arch is visible. The arch is seen from the rear and is pretty far away, but for those who can’t make the trek to the arch it provides a glimpse of mother natures magnificence.
Rock Art at Wolfe Ranch
Just off the trail to Delicate Arch is a side trail that leads to some Native American rock art. It is known as the Wolf Ranch panel and is a fine display of Ute Rock art. The panel shows figures on horseback and sheep most likely portraying a hunting party. While there are many rock art panels in arches, this seems to be the most accessible and best preserved of all the art.
Wolfe Ranch was settled by a civil war veteran John Wesley Wolfe in 1898. Two cabins have been preserved and mark the spot where Wolfe and his family lived for more than 10 years. From these cabins is the trail to both delicate arch and the Native American rock panel.