Visiting Arches National Park in January

Are you wondering what it’s like to visit Arches National Park in January? It’s one of our favorite times to go, if you don’t mind cold and possible snow.

Use this Arches National Park travel guide to plan your January vacation: weather, services available, and what to expect when visiting.

Visiting Arches National Park in January

We live close enough to the park to visit various times throughout year so we have lots of Arches National Park vacation ideas to share!

This guide will tell you what to pack, where to stay, and things to do when you plan a January vacation to Arches National Park.

Check out these Arches National Park itineraries:

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A Photo Tour of Arches National Park

Take a visual tour through Arches National Park to see the stunning landscapes you’ll see when you visit!

Visiting Arches National Park in January

One of the 5 Utah National Parks, Arches is a popular destination and it gets crowded during the peak seasons of spring and fall.

When you visit Arches National Park in the winter, you often have the parking lots and trails to yourself! It’s the best!

But… there are no ranger-led hikes or campfire talks in the winter at Arches.

Is January a Good Time to Visit Arches National Park?

The January weather will be cold, and you may encounter snow, but it’s so amazing to see the contrast of white snow against the red rocks.

Yes, most of the Arches National Park hiking trails remain open year-round. You may find there are parts of the Delicate Arch trail and Devil’s Garden trail that can be slippery from packed snow and ice and may require traction devices and trekking poles. 

If you’re ok with all of that, then you should definitely visit Arches in January!

Arches Weather in January

The Arches National Park weather in January is cold and can be unpredictable if a storm rolls through. The average highs are near 40 degrees with the lows near 20 degrees.

Remember that Arches National Park is located at 5,653 feet above sea level so it does get cold in the winter, even if the sun is out.

Dress in layers when visiting Arches in January: winter coat, fleece jacketwinter hat and gloves. Take warm winter clothing so you’ll actually want to get out of the car when you get to the trailhead. Hiking boots should be warm and waterproof. No one wants soggy feet! Remember that this area of Utah is a dry environment, don’t forget lip balm and lotion!

You can see current weather conditions at Arches on the NPS website and updated photographs of trail conditions at the Arches visitor center. 

Does it Snow in January at Arches National Park?

Usually Arches National Park doesn’t see large amounts of snow in January. But it’s common to get a dusting of snow, or even a few inches of snow, when storms roll through the area. The snow is a terrific contrast with the red rocks to create wonderful scenes to photograph!

Do the Roads Close at Arches in January?

The park road might be closed after a snowfall for several hours for plowing. For road conditions getting to Arches, check the Utah Road Weather Forecast or call 1-866-511-UTAH (8824).

Park roads, parking lots, and pullouts can still be icy, especially in shaded areas. Check at the visitor center for the latest information on road conditions.

Things to Do at Arches National Park in January

There are so many things to do at Arches National Park – here’s a list of activities to consider when visiting in January:

Arches Visitor Center in January

When visiting Arches National Park you should make the visitor center your first stop! It is open every day in January except for New Year’s Day. Take time to talk to the park ranger and tell him things that are of interest to you and get tips and ideas on other things to do. 

NOTE: There are no ranger-led hikes or campfire talks in the winter at Arches.

Arches National Park Scenic Drive in January

When it’s cold or stormy, the Arches National Park scenic drive will be a good activity to stay warm. It’s 43 miles including the two spur roads and takes 2 to 3 hours. If you plan to get out and take photos or hike a trail, then add more time.

The scenic drive provides so many Arches National Park photography locations. Many landmarks can be seen from the pullouts and parking lot. Download the Arches map of the scenic road marking all points of interest.

Hiking in January at Arches National Park

Arches National Park hiking trails are so enjoyable in the cooler winter temperatures compared to the heat of summer! Remember to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen, even in the winter!

Most of the trails at Arches are fully exposed to the sun, which is perfect for winter outdoor activities. Check out our Devil’s Garden Trail Guide – it’s a fun trail to do in January.

Keep in mind you may encounter ice, snow and mud in shady areas of the trails because January is the coldest month of the year at the park and the wet areas don’t dry. You may need traction devices on some trails. Check with the visitor’s center for the most current trail conditions.

Also, It gets darker earlier at Arches in January, which may limit the time you spend hiking.

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Photography in January at Arches

We often wish for snow when we take our January trip to Arches. The landscape of red rocks with white snow is so pretty!

Be prepared for all types of Arches National Park Photography due to weather. We like the unique images you can capture with rain, snow and fog.

The best times to photograph the park are sunrise and sunset. The colors are vibrant and the light creates a spectacular glow on the red rocks that cannot be missed.

Remember that Delicate Arch is a popular place to photograph sunset at Arches National Park. It won’t be as crowded in January as it is during the busy season, but the numbers are drastically reduced so you can actually enjoy your time there.

And since January will be cold, we like to use photographer gloves and keep rechargeable hand warmers in our coat pockets! Don’t forget a headlamp for navigating the dark before sunrise and after sunset!

→ CHECK OUT: Arches & Canyonlands Itinerary and Photography Guide

Stargazing in January at Arches National Park

Definitely take one evening to stay after the sun set and LOOK UP!

Arches National Park is internationally recognized as one of the best places for stargazing because of its remote location, accessibility, altitude and clear skies.

The slogan “Half the Park is After Dark” encourages visiting at night to simply Look up! On a clear night, the sky is literally filled with stars.

These are great stargazing areas at Arches:

  • Balanced Rock Picnic Area
  • The Windows
  • Garden of Eden Viewpoint
  • Panorama Point

The Milky Way will not be visible at Arches in January. It’s best viewed from March to October.

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps:

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

Visiting Arches National Park:

Where to Stay Near Arches National Park:

There are no hotels in Arches so most people stay in the nearby town of Moab. There are all types of lodging in and near Moab from budget-friendly hotels to higher-prices resorts. You’ll also find vacation rentals, a hostel, campgrounds and RV parks.

Here are a few of our favorite places to stay near Arches:

  • Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Moab – we enjoyed our stay and highly recommend this hotel due to its location close to Arches.
  • Purple Sage – our all-time favorite place to stay in Moab – walking distance to shopping, full kitchen, and only 8 units so you don’t feel lost in a large hotel. 
  • Red Cliffs Lodge – rooms up to 6 people – located 17 miles from Moab, this lodge is known for its beautiful location, winery and activities like horseback riding, fishing and more!
  • Vacation Rentals – we really like rentals with a kitchen, washer and dryer and amenities like a swimming pool and hot tub.

RECOMMENDED GEAR: Arches National Park Packing List

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