Delicate Arch

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Delicate Arch is a 52 ft (16 m) tall[1] freestanding natural arch located in Arches National Park near Moab, Utah.

It is the most widely-recognized landmark in Arches National Park and is depicted on Utah license plates and on a postage stamp commemorating Utah's centennial anniversary of statehood in 1996. The Olympic torch relay for the 2002 Winter Olympics passed through the arch.[2]

Contents

History

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 1933–1934. (The story that the names of Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch were inadvertently exchanged due to a signage mixup by the National Park Service is false.[3])

The arch played no part in the original designation of the area as a U.S. National Monument in 1929, and was not included within the original boundaries; it was added when the monument was enlarged in 1938.

In the 1950s, the National 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 NPS principles.[3]

Geology

Delicate Arch is formed of Entrada Sandstone.[4] The original sandstone fin was gradually worn away by weathering and erosion, eventually leaving the arch. Other arches in the park were formed the same way but due to placement and less dramatic shape are not as famous.

Hiking to the Arch

Delicate Arch is located at the end of a moderately strenuous, 1.5 mi (2.4 km) hiking trail from the parking area at Wolfe Ranch. Taking thirty to forty-five minutes each way, the round trip is slightly more than 3 mi (4.8 km) long and the Arch is completely hidden from view on this trail.

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