Saturday, November 27, 2010

Roadtrip 2008: Delicate Arch in Arches NP

Delicate Arch is the most widely recognized landmark of both Arches NP and Utah. Its delicate beauty inspired millions of amateur, as well as professional, photographers from all over the world. It was featured multiple times on magazine covers and it is also depicted on Utah license plates.

The best way to see it is to go on a 1.5 mile long (one way) hike that starts at Wolfe Ranch parking area. The hike is very pleasant even though you can not see the Arch until the very last 100 meters of the trail.

This hike is not wheel-chair accessible. But luckily, the Arch can also be seen from a viewpoint (Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint) that is located just next to the parking lot. From there you can see the Arch at a distance of about one mile and to take a good picture of it you will need a telephoto lens and a tripod.

From the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint you can continue for another 0.5 mile to the Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint, which is closer to the Arch. However, the views from there are basically the same as from the Lower Viewpoint (though the need for a tele lens and tripod disappears).

We visited the Lower and Upper Viewpoints early in the morning, but we decided to hike to the base of Delicate Arch around sunset as this is the best time to see it. For around 5 minutes the color of the Arch is changing from yellow-orange into beautiful deep warm orange-red. It's definitely worth seeing this transformation, even though, literally, you will share this experience with several hundred other hikers and/or photographers... It did feel very artificial and surreal to be waiting with so many other people for the moment that each of us wished to be intimate.

Delicate Arch, early morning, view from the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint:

Delicate Arch, early morning, view from the Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint:

Our shadows on the trail to Delicate Arch:

Hundreds of amateur photographers waiting for the sunset at Delicate Arch:

Delicate Arch, 45 minutes before sunset, the warm sunset light is not quite there yet:

Delicate Arch, 25 minutes before sunset, the long-awaited 4 minutes of warm light finally arrived: