Two California visitors fell to their deaths while hiking to the Delicate Arch sandstone formation in Arches National Park.
An unidentified 60-year-old woman and 65-year-old man were killed in the fall Friday into the lower bowl area next to the iconic arch, according to a statement from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office in Moab, Utah.
A third Californian, a 30-year-old man, also fell and was injured. He was airlifted to Moab Regional Hospital.
It wasn’t immediately clear why the three fell. They appeared to be hiking together and may have been related, noted the sheriff’s statement. The weather was inclement and conditions were slippery following rain and snow. One area visitor responding to the Facebook post by the sheriff said there were “extremely strong winds” near the arch.
The area around Delicate Arch was temporarily closed off after the tragedy, but reopened later Friday. Rangers warned visitors in a tweet to “proceed with caution.” It’s a 3-mile-long, 480-foot climb from the closest parking to see the arch up close.
The 46-foot-tall Delicate Arch is the largest free-standing arch and the most widely known of the 2,000 arches in the park, which draws more than 1.5 million visitors per year. Delicate Arch is one of the three main arches featured on Utah license plates.
Arches National Park is open 24 hours a day year-round, regardless of the weather.