Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Delicate Arch is one of the most photographed locations in all of Utah, which typically means I avoid photographing it. I usually shy away from a location if it has hordes of photographers or has been photographed every which way possible but, for some spots, I have to make an exception due to their iconic status. When I visit those locations, though, I typically try to shoot them in some unique way in order to differentiate my shot from the mountains of others. Delicate Arch is one of those iconic locations in the western United States and is in my backyard, so to speak. On a family trip to Arches National Park I took a hike up to the arch to try my hand at getting a unique shot of this amazing location.


First off, Delicate Arch is huge. It is much larger than I thought it would be, towering over tourists as they stand underneath its “legs”. As I got to the spot, I was frustrated by the hordes of people swarming the place. I knew I wasn’t going to get much opportunity for good light due to the clouds in the west so I had to quickly decide on a location. I didn’t want to take the typical Delicate-Arch-with-La-Sal-Mountains-in-the-distance shot so I worked my way to the left side of the arch. It was spring time so there was some green down in the valley below and I liked how the blue sky, red rock, and green vegetation complimented one another so I decided to setup on the left, higher up the bowl surrounding the arch in order to get more of the valley in the frame.

Probably the most difficult aspect of this shot was getting some good light to correspond to when a tourist wasn’t at the base of the arch taking a frustratingly long time to take their corny holding-up-the-arch shot. After having several spoiled shots due to inconsiderate tourists (standing around for 15 minutes at a time, causing a backlog of other tourists waiting for their turn to hold everyone else up), I finally was able to get this shot.

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah