Delicate Arch is 52-foot-tall (16 m) freestanding natural arch located in Arches National Park, near Moab in Grand County, Utah, United States. The arch is the most widely recognized landmark in Arches National Park and is depicted on Utah license plates and a postage stamp commemorating Utah's centennial anniversary of admission to the Union in 1996. The Olympic torch relay for the 2002 Winter Olympics passed through the arch.
View of the Delicate Arch at sunset, August 2005
|Location||Arches National Park, Utah, United States|
|Elevation||4,606 ft (1,404 m)|
|Dimensions||52 ft (16 m) high|
Because of its distinctive shape, the arch was known as "the Chaps" and "the Schoolmarm's Bloomers" by local cowboys. Many other names have been applied to this arch including "Bloomers Arch", "Marys Bloomers", "Old Maids Bloomers", "Pants Crotch", "Salt Wash Arch", and "School Marms Pants". The arch 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. Although there is a rumor that the names of Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch were inadvertently exchanged due to a signage mixup by the National Park Service (NPS), this is false.
This arch played no part in the original designation of the area as a national monument (Arches 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 NPS 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.
Delicate Arch is formed of Entrada Sandstone. The original sandstone fin was gradually worn away by weathering and erosion, 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.
Nature photographer Michael Fatali started a fire under the arch in September 2000 to demonstrate nighttime photography techniques to a group of amateur photographers. The fire discolored portions of the sandstone near the arch.  Fatali was placed on probation and fined $10,900 in restitution to the NPS for the cost of cleanup efforts.
In May 2006, climber Dean Potter made the first recorded free solo—no ropes or protection—ascent of this formation. Climbing Delicate Arch was not explicitly forbidden under the rules in force at the time; however, most climbers accepted that the named arch formations should not be climbed. The NPS has since closed the loophole by disallowing climbs on any named arch within the park year-round. Slacklining and the placement of new fixed anchors on new climbs is also prohibited. Controversy erupted when photographs taken after Potter's climb appeared to show damage caused by a climbing technique called top roping. Potter stated on several occasions that he never top-roped the arch, and no photos exist of Potter using a top rope setup on the arch. A previous climber may have top-roped the arch, leaving the existing rope scars.
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Delicate Arch
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- Vigh, Michael (8 Dec 2001). "Fatali Pleads Guilty to All Charges". The Salt Lake Tribune. Salt Lake City. Retrieved 10 Mar 2019 – via photo.net.
- Welling, Angie (7 Dec 2001). "Photographer admits fire role". Deseret News. Salt Lake City: Deseret Digital Media. Retrieved 10 Mar 2019.
- "National Briefing: Rockies: Utah: Sentence For Burning Arch". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. Associated Press. 2 Feb 2002. Retrieved 10 Mar 2019.
- Neville, Tim (1 Jun 2006). "How Delicate Was Dean?". outsideonline.com. Outside Integrated Media, LLC. Retrieved 10 Mar 2019.