(Photo Credit: Chris Janda

“If Delicate Arch has any significance it lies, I will venture, in the power of the odd and unexpected to startle the senses and surprise the mind out of their ruts of habit, to compel us into a reawakened awareness of the wonderful- that which is full of wonder.” – Edward Abbey

Delicate Arch is one of the most recognizable geological features in the United States. Its silhouette instantly brings to mind a barren red desert landscape and invokes a sense of wonder about our natural environments that few other formations have the power to do so. It is difficult to imagine the millennia of erosion that causes the formations in the Utah desert, but when faced with Delicate Arch, we have an opportunity to glimpse into that raw power. Standing beneath it you can close your eyes and feel the wind against your face, the same wind that has been blowing for thousands of years to create this formation. 

Delicate Arch is one of the most popular hikes in Arches National Park, with 1.5 million visitors to Arches National Park each year, you can imagine how crowded the trail to Delicate Arch can get. In the wintertime, visitors have a unique opportunity to visit Delicate Arch without an oppressive crowd. Additionally, the contrast between the red sandstone and the white snow is particularly lovely if you’re interested in getting photos of this geological feature. 

Kaya Lindsay Delicate Arch Snow

(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay

If you’re interested in seeing Delicate Arch in the snow, you have two options.
1. Delicate Arch Viewpoint
2. Delicate Arch Trailhead

The Delicate Arch Viewpoint can be accessed from the road, and visitors will only have to walk approximately 100 feet to see a slightly unobstructed view of the arch. If you don’t have traction devices, this is a very easy way to take in the beauty of Delicate Arch in the snow. Bring the telephoto lens for a close up picture! 





Kaya Lindsay Traction Devices

(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay

If you are interested in getting an up-close and personal view of Delicate Arch, you can take the trail directly to the base. The trail is about 1.5 miles out and 1.5 miles back with a steady incline the whole way. The three-mile round trip hike is moderate to strenuous, so make sure you are prepared to hike uphill for at least an hour. 

The first half of the trail receives direct sunlight, so depending on how recently it snowed you may be able to do this portion of the hike without traction devices. Check out our Winter Conditions page on the Moab Gear Trader website for more information on current weather updates. 

Kaya Lindsay Amanda Heidt Arches(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay

In the wintertime, shady sections of the trail may become treacherous and slippery. The last quarter mile of the trail leading out to Delicate Arch is North Facing and receives all-day shade. It is also fairly steep with a significant drop-off. We highly recommend purchasing traction devices for this portion of the hike. 

I was up there recently and watched as a pair of hikers tripped and slid painfully on the trail because all they had on were sneakers. 

If you don’t already have traction devices, our friendly staff at Moab Gear Trader can get you set up in no time. There are several different kinds of traction devices meant for snow, ice, or a hybrid of the two. Come on in out of the cold to our warm little corner on Main Street and let us fit you with a pair of traction devices that suit all your winter hiking needs. 

Kaya Lindsay Snow Footprints(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay

Once you pass over the final stretch of snow and ice you will be rewarded with the magnificent sight of Delicate Arch in the snow! 

Delicate Arch has had many names in the past, including “the Chaps”, “the Schoolmarm’s Bloomers”, “Bloomers Arch”, “Marys Bloomers”, “Old Maids Bloomers”, “Pants Crotch”, “Salt Wash Arch”, and “School Marms Pants”. It becomes obvious, when you see it, why there are so many pants related names for this specific feature. The arch looks like a pair of legs standing wide at a jaunty angle! The bowl leading up to the arch is steep but receives all day sun, so it may be dry even if the rest of the trail is wet. If it is slick with ice, be very careful! 

Kaya Lindsay Amanda Heidt Snow Arches(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay

At 52 feet tall, Delicate Arch is about the same height as a four-story building. The opening underneath is 46 feet tall and 32 feet wide, making it the largest free-standing arch in the park. There are larger arches (like Double Arch), but they happen to be attached to other features. 

Enjoy the view of this magnificent arch, enjoy some water and a snack, and then slap your traction devices back on for the downhill hike back to the car. Make sure you are steady on your feet for the hike down, ice can make the trail dangerous. 

Delicate Arch in the snow is a rare and wondrous sight for those visiting Arches National Park in winter. You’ll have an opportunity to see this classic feature shrouded in a beautiful blanket of snow, the trail will be much less crowded, and ultimately your nature experience will be better for the solitude offered in winter. Remember to bring water, your camera, and traction devices for the last stretch of slippery ice! Enjoy Arches National Park in a way few visitors have the opportunity to. 

Kaya Lindsay Footprints Snow Arches

(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay)