Last year, during our visit to Arches National Park, we hiked to the Delicate Arch Viewpoint, but decided this year to actually hike to the Arch itself.
We began early in the morning, to avoid as much heat of the day as possible.
The trail head leads first past Wolfe Ranch. In the late 1800’s John Wesley Wolfe and his son moved here from Ohio looking for a drier climate to help with the pain from a Civil War wound. He chose this spot along Salt Wash for its water and grassland. They erected a crude cabin, a corral and a small dam. More than a decade later, John’s daughter and family joined them. Shocked at the conditions her father and brother were living in, Flora convinced them to build a new cabin with a wood floor – that cabin, still very primitive by our standards, remains today.
The 3 mile round trip hike then leads over a footbridge stretching across the wash.
The next part of the hike is the most strenuous, up an incline of slickrock (a word coined by early settlers whose metal-shod horses found the expanses of barren rock slick to cross). We stopped several times, both to catch our breath, and to take in the breathtaking panoramas of the surrounding area.
Across the ravine we spot an arch
and up a steep incline to our right is Frame Arch. Some hikers climbed to this arch to get their first view of Delicate Arch, but we decided not to; if you fall, it’s a long way down.
A set of stairs has been carved into the stone
The immediate area has unguarded cliffs plunging down one hundred feet or more. Walking across the slickrock to the arch was the hardest part of the hike for me. If one was to lose their footing, there is nothing to catch onto, or to hinder your fall to the floor far below.
What a feeling, though, to look out across the great vista stretching from horizon to horizon.
We have not often seen panels depicting horseback riders, as many such sites date to an era before the horse was introduced to the area. This panel is estimated to have been created sometime between 1650 and 1850.
It’s been a long, hot day, but the hike to Delicate Arch is one well worth the effort.