We made a family trip to Utah in May, and since my friend Elaine has said she'd like to go to the iconic Delicate Arch in Arches National Park (my new favorite), I thought I'd provide a travel guide.
As you can see from the map, it's possible to hike a short trail and see the arch from a distance:
That was not my idea, however ~ and my daughter has come close to disowning me for following through on hiking the trail right up to the arch.
We reached the trail about 5:30, hoping to see the sunrise hit the red rock at a little after 6:00 am. When it became apparent that I could not make the hike in half an hour, I urged my husband and daughter on, figuring I'd walk at my own pace. Even my own pace was strenuous. As I considered my imminent heart attack, I looked at the view behind me and hoped that someone would remember to say at my funeral that I died livin' the dream:
I did not mind my many pauses at all:
Most of the second half of the hike up covers a huge rock face, of which this is a small part (looking back down):
The only markers at that point are a series of cairns, which might explain why, when I finally reached the arch, or as close as I was going to get, there was no sign of husband or daughter. Frantic at the thought of what might have happened to them ~ this hike has its scary moments ~ I was imagining having to hike down an hour and call the Park Service to mount a search and rescue effort. I finally found someone who had seen them, and said they had given up and turned back.
It seems that they went the wrong way and came upon Delicate Arch on the other side of the bowl on which it sits, and discovered themselves looking down a sheer cliff. They couldn't imagine that I had continued hiking, so they headed down the rock, not knowing that by veering to the left they would have been able to reach a narrow trail and a fairly wide cliff on which to walk and sit. That's where I was, and here's what I saw at about 6:30 am:
And, looking the other way:
Was it worth it? I'd say it was the highlight of my year so far. But I think that if I want to go back someday, I'm on my own!