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Contact: Diane Allen, (435) 719-2240
Arches National Park Superintendent Laura Joss announced on Thursday morning, October 12th, that the trail to Delicate Arch and the road to the Delicate Arch Viewpoint have been reopened. The trail has been rerouted temporarily to avoid the most severely damaged area near Salt Wash and the footbridge. Visitors can access Wolfe Ranch from the parking lot, but must return from there to the detour. To access the arch itself, hikers should use the temporary trail down the Viewpoint road for about 400 feet, then link back with the main trail.
The two-wheel drive dirt road in Salt Valley, leading to Klondike Bluffs has also been graded and is now open to traffic. The four-wheel-drive road and the Willow Flat road remain closed to all traffic.
The road to the Delicate Arch trailhead parking area and Viewpoint will remain open unless additional rains raise the water levels again. Rains are predicted for the weekend, but crews remain hopeful that flooding will not occur.
Massive flooding on Friday, October 6th and subsequent rains over the following weekend caused the Delicate Arch area to be closed. Work crews cleared the road several times, only to have water resurge, depositing more sand on the road. At one point, nearly two feet of sand blocked the road at one of the low water crossings. Water at another crossing seemed to be receding on Tuesday morning, only to rise again in the afternoon. If rains recur, additional road closures may be necessary.
The trail beyond Wolfe Ranch is completely gone and will take at least several months of work to repair. Salt Wash, a major drainage from the Book Cliffs and Yellow Cat area, created a new channel, washing away at least 50 horizontal feet of trail surface. The foot bridge is still intact but inaccessible. Visitors may walk to the stream’s edge for a view of the damage, but are cautioned to return to the parking lot and use the temporary trail. The rocks just over the streambank are severely undercut and do not provide a safe stopping point. Security fencing has been installed along the route.
Superintendent Joss says the inconvenience caused to visitors, many from around the world, was unavoidable. “While we deeply regret the disappointment that visitors may feel, it was necessary to close the area so that heavy equipment could operate safely and clear the road. We hope the weather cooperates and enables us to keep the area open.”Current information may be heard by calling the park’s 24-hour recorded telephone message at (435) 719-2299 or checking at the visitor center in Moab or at the park.