Today is our last day at Arches National Park. It's been a blast, but there's one of the famous arches here that still eludes us. Delicate Arch! Let's go there!
There's not a whole lot that could get us out of bed before sunrise. Today's hike though requires us to get moving early. We've heard from the rangers and read multiple places that if you're headed to Delicate Arch, start your day early. The sunshine and heat is brutal in the best of times, but on this hike with no shade it is especially harsh.
We checked in at the gate before 7:30am.
Our destination is an arch so famous, it's the default license plate on every vehicle here in Utah.
The trail can get quite backed up. There is a large lot for cars, but in the early morning hours, it's still not enough to handle the crowds.
And the Rangers were there, ticketing cars that were parked illegally or blocking others in. Fortunately we found a spot and were able to pull The Beast in without sticking out too much.
This is actually a hike that we were debating whether or not to attempt. It's described as a moderately strenuous hike with a treacherous section near the end. After speaking to Ranger Corbin yesterday though, he explained the dangerous part (pictures to come) and thought we'd be able to handle it. With agreements that we'd turn back if it looked too bad, we set off on the hike.
It's a 3 mile round trip out to the arch.
There's 480 feet of elevation gain to get there, which is about a 6% elevation gain on average. We'll be hiking uphill a bit.
Along these gravel paths to start.
(I love that they'll still hold hands like this)
And once we get further along, we're hiking along this large rocky expanse. It's all one giant rock and in places it can get slick!
After the gravel trail, we're just following people we see in front of us. There's not a well defined trail.
Climbing up large expanses of rock.
Ah, here's the dangerous part. A section of the trail that is about 4 feet wide with a large fall if you happen to go off the other side.
But we made it! Just around the corner we found a whole group of people at the arch.
Forgive the heavy breathing in the audio. Apparently I was holding it too close to my chest as I walked. You can get a good view of the ledge though.
Delicate Arch is especially out of place compared to some of the other arches we've seen. It doesn't traverse two hills. It's not a hole in a mountain. This freestanding arch is all by itself next to a large bowl.
There's multiple people waiting in line to get "the photo" inside the arch. It was a very civilized group with everyone waiting their turn. Roughly 20 minutes later, we got to the front and asked another group to take our picture.
And after we got my camera back, I see that this is the photo they took... No I didn't crop it.
Seriously? We're here at this giant impressive arch and you think I want a photo of us and the leg?
Jacob, who was waiting his turn happened to get one of us and the entire arch.
And then this is the style photo I took for Jacob.
You can't see it from the front, but the arch actually overlooks a sheer cliff on the other side. Don't go too far back or you can slip!
And not only is it delicately perched on the hillside, but the rock itself looks to be crumbling away. That leg nearest us has a very small support for the large amount of rock weight that it's holding above.
After our long hike up, we sat in a shadow and enjoyed some treats.
Not satisfied with the family picture we got, I wanted to get another. I didn't want to wait in that long line again, so instead of being underneath the arch, we'll pose well in front of it. With a few strategically placed heads and well timed shots, we can make it look like we're the only ones there. And I think this is an even better picture than we could have gotten of us underneath the arch.
And one for Jacob too.
Hiking back down, the adults made sure to stay on the outside edge. It's definitely a do-able hike, and I'm glad we did it during the cooler part of the day.
The hike back down. What are the kids' favorite arches from the trip? Alli liked Skyline Arch because of all the rock climbing she could do there. Ian liked the Windows because of the good views and also the rock climbing there too.
Once we got all the way down, we can take a detour to see the nearby petroglyphs.
These drawings are hundreds of years old
And have survived the elements all that time.
For a change we're actually leaving the park around 10:30am instead of trying to get in. That's quite the line of cars with reservations today!
Let's celebrate with ice cream!
And a tasty dinner. Biscuits from scratch.
Yum! A tasty dinner to cap off our trip to Arches.
Enjoying the sunset here one last time.