Delicate Arch

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A remarkable freestanding natural arch located in Arches National Park near Moab, Utah, USA.

Delicate Arch is the signature landmark of Arches National Park. It is depicted on Utah state automobile license plates and a U.S. postage stamp commemorating Utah's centennial in 1996.

The arch is located at the end of a moderately strenuous 1.5 mile (one-way) trail from the parking area at Wolfe Ranch.

Because of its distinctive shape, the arch was known as "The Chaps" and "The Schoolmarm's Bloomers" by local cowboys. It was given its current name by Frank Beckwith, leader of the Arches National Monument Scientific Expedition, who explored the area in the winter of 1933-34. (The amusing story that the names of Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch were inadvertantly exchanged due to a signage mixup by the Park Service unfortunately is not factual.)

Surprisingly, the arch played no part in the original designation of the area as a national monument in 1929, and was not included within the original monument boundary. It was added when the monument was enlarged in 1938.

During the 1950s the Park Service investigated the possibility of applying a clear plastic coating to the arch to protect it from further erosion and eventual destruction. The idea was ultimately abandoned as impractical and contrary to Park Service principles.


Hoffman, John F. Arches National Park.