I usually steer clear of hikes that are listed as “strenuous”. But it was Delicate Arch. It’s the arch of Arches National Park. It’s such an awesome arch that Utah uses it on their license plates. It had to be seen regardless of the strenuousness.
As I stood at the bottom of the trailhead I convinced myself I could see the top of the arch. The hillside of sliprock was peppered with herds of people all making their way to the top and I decided to make the jaunt to the top as well.
The hillside hike looked difficult but I had my best hiking buddy along with me, myself. Well actually Boomer is my best hiking buddy because he will usually pull me to the top with ease. But today Boomer was day boarding at a local vet clinic and I was with myself.
I paced myself to go slow. No one was there to push me up the hillside or judge me on how slow I was walking… or the fact that I was huffing and puffing. And I could stop at any given moment for a rest. In which I did stop often. I casually disguised my multiple stops with photography opportunities. It wasn’t that I was gasping for air at the nearly 4800 feet (1463 m) above sea level, almost double what I was use to. That and let’s be honest – I hadn’t gotten in shape for hiking for the year other than lifting heavy pints of beer.
When I reached the top of the sliprock I realized that the “arch” I had seen from the trailhead was in fact an impostor. Delicate Arch was still a ½ mile away according to the sign that pointed to the left, along with a sign that pointed to the right that said “parking lot” WTF a parking lot – I could have drove up here!?!?!
I carried on the last ½ mile (.80 km), which was a lot more people packed but less strenuous. There is a rock ledge that we all walked along that reminded me slightly of the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier National Park in the respect that it was narrow with a drop off and there were way too many people trying to pass each other on it.
Once I reached Delicate Arch I soon realized why the National Park Service advised people to visit different parts of the park other than the most famous sites, such as Delicate Arch. I sat on the ledge looking at Delicate Arch with about 100 of my “friends” who frustrated me as I tried to snap photos without these so-called friends in my photos. I decided not to spend an absorbent amount of time trying to capture the perfect photo without people in it. I was able to get a few photos without people and for that I am grateful!
Delicate Arch, although packed with people, is well worth the hike. The park notes state that you should plan on 2.5 hours and expect a 480 foot (146 m) elevation change. Majority of that is in the beginning as you ascent up the sliprock. Or you can take the easy route and park at the top and hike in the last ½ mile (.8 km). All parking lots regardless of where you choose to park will be full most of the day. Even though I arrived early I still had to make myself a parking spot along with about 20 other cars and walk a ½ mile (.8 km) back to the trailhead.