What It’s Like Visiting Arches National Park in the Winter

Are you looking for a fun winter vacation idea? Visit Arches National Park in the winter!

November through February is the off-season at Arches which makes it the perfect time to plan a trip!

We visit at various times throughout year and created this Arches National Park travel guide to help you plan your vacation.

Keep reading for information about what to pack, where to stay and things to do when visiting Arches in the winter.

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Plan and pack for your day in Arches knowing there are NO SERVICES in the park.

1. WATER: Arches National Park elevation is 5,653 feet. Humidity is lower at higher altitudes. Sweat evaporates quickly and you may not realize how much water you are losing through exertion. The visitor center at the entrance has a bookstore, restrooms and drinking water. Once you’re inside the park, the only other place to get water is Devil’s Garden.  → Get refillable water bottles or a hydration pack!

2. Healthy snacks: Since there are no services in the park, it’s important to pack the food and snacks you’ll need while exploring Arches.  → Here’s a good list of healthy snacks!

3. Hiking boots: We are usually fine wearing our Merrell or Oboz hiking shoes or boots at Arches during the winter, but make sure they are waterproof! → Check out Merrell Moab hiking shoes | and Oboz waterproof hiking shoes

4. Wool socks: We LOVE Darn Tough socks. They are worth every penny. Your feet will thank you!  → Check out the socks we love!

5. Wicking and quick-drying base layers: It’s all about the layers when visiting Arches in the winter. Be sure to have the base layer something that wicks away moisture.  → Check out base layer options

6. Fleece jacket: If you enjoy outdoor adventure, then you know how awesome a good fleece jacket is. Over the years we’ve come to find the best fleece jackets are made by Columbia, North Face and Patagonia. → Columbia fleece | North Face fleece | Patagonia fleece

7. Insulated jacket: Winter temperatures get cold at Arches in the morning and evening. You will want a good insulated jacket! → Check out the jackets we wear!

8. Insulated headwear: Keeping your head warm is so important in the winter.  We have ditched the hats and use fleece Buffs since they can be worn as a hat, headband or neck gaiter.  → Check out the fleece Buffs we use!

9. Winter gloves: Mitts are awesome for keeping your fingers together and warm, but many prefer the feel of gloves. → Check out awesome winter mitts and winter gloves

10. Lotion and lip balm: Utah is DRY! You will want to keep travel sized lotion and a lip balm in your coat pockets. Believe us!  → Hydrating lotion and lip balm 

11. Rechargeable hand warmers: These hand warmers keep your hands toasty, they are our new favorite winter gear find!  → Rechargeable hand warmers

→ CHECK OUT Winter Clothing Guide for Outdoor Adventure 

→ CHECK OUT Arches National Park Packing List

Outdoor Gear we recommend! Travel Gear & Hiking Gear

outdoor gear we use


There are so many things to do at Arches National Park.

Check out our guide for finding the best time to visit Arches National Park. Each season and month of the year will have different activities and services available.

Here’s a breakdown of what to expect each month during the winter at Arches:

PLEASE NOTE: Arches will be doing a TIMED ENTRY pilot program April through October, 2022.

Timed entry tickets will be required to enter the park from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and will allow visitors to enter the park during a one-hour specified window of availability. After entering, visitors may stay in the park as long as they wish for the remainder of the day. Reservation holders may exit and re-enter the park on the same day with a correctly validated ticket.

Visitors can book reservations first-come, first-served on Recreation.gov. The park will release reservations three months in advance in monthly blocks.


1. No Lines of Traffic or Crowds

If you’ve ever been to Arches National Park during the busy season, you know it gets crowded.

In the winter, it’s a completely different experience. Many times you have the parking lot to yourself!

You can find absolute quiet in the park during the winter. You will have many Arches National Park hiking trails to yourself.

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

You should check out this list of ideas for escaping the crowds at national parks.

2. Iconic Photos Without the Wait

Arches National Park Photography requires patience for the majority of the year. You wait at each arch while everyone takes their turn to snap a selfie or photograph.

The most popular areas where people can scramble around the arches, like the Windows Section and Turret Arch, you may never get a photo without people in the shot.

During the winter, you can get the iconic photos without waiting!

The one exception to this is Delicate Arch, especially at sunset.

This is a popular destination for tourists and photographers so you may still need patience and courtesy to get your token photo standing under the arch.

Once the magical moment of sunset arrives, everyone cooperates and moves away from the arch so photos may be taken without people in the shot.

take jaw-dropping photos at Arches & Canyonlands

3. No Scorching Heat for Outdoor Hiking

Walking around Arches during the summer is best in the morning or late afternoon due to the heat of the day. Most points of interest and hiking trails, like the popular Devil’s Garden trail, have little or no refuge from the sun.

In the winter you can enjoy a full day in the park without sweating and worrying about heat exhaustion. It’s still important to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen.

Hiking the many trails at Arches in the winter is so refreshing. The daytime temperature is often a dry and sunny 40 or 50 degrees. Most of the trails are fully exposed to the sun, so with a jacket, the hiking weather is pleasant.

On the flip side, you may encounter ice, snow and mud in shady areas of the park. It gets darker earlier at Arches National Park in the winter, which may limit the time you spend hiking and sightseeing.

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 the winter.

Take warm winter clothing and dress in layers 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!

Most hiking trails at Arches National Park remain open year-round. After a snowfall, popular trails like Delicate Arch and Devil’s Garden quickly become slippery from packed snow and ice and may require traction devices and trekking poles. Drifting snow can cover trail markers, making even “easy” trails harder to follow.

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

 4. Spectacular Winter Photography

Snow does fall in Arches National Park in the winter, but it rarely stays on the ground for more than 2 or 3 days.

Arches National Park photography in the winter can vary: one day there is a contrast of snow on red rock; and the next day the sun melts the snow and blue skies complement the sandstone formations.

The park puts on a show at sunrise and sunset. The colors are vibrant and the light creates a spectacular glow on the red rocks that cannot be missed.

PHOTO TIP: A photograph isn’t about an object, it’s about light on an object. The Arches National Park website has a table with features listed indicating whether morning or late afternoon provides the best light for photography.

As we’ve mentioned, Delicate Arch at sunset might be the most famous image to photograph in the park, and it’s difficult to compete for real estate along the edge of the bowl with hundreds of other spectators and photographers.

During the winter the numbers are drastically reduced, making the experience relaxing and enjoyable.

→ CHECK OUT our 3 Day Arches & Canyonlands Itinerary and Photography Guide

5. Stargazing

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. Areas off the main park road with few obstructions of the sky are best. The farther north you drive, away from the lights of Moab, the darker the sky will be.

Try stargazing at these areas:

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

The one downfall to visiting Arches in the winter is the Milky Way will not be visible. It’s best viewed from March to October.

Once you visit Arches National Park in the Winter, you may never again visit during the summer, and may even avoid spring and fall as well.


Is Arches National Park Open in the Winter?

You bet! The park is open 24/7. Visit the NPS site to get the updated winter hours.

Does it Snow at Arches National Park?

Usually Arches National Park doesn’t see large amounts of snow. 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 the Winter?

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.

What Winter Activities Can Yo Do at Arches National Park?

What is the Weather Like at Arches in the Winter?

Winters are cold, with highs averaging 30 to 50 F (-1 to 10 C), and lows averaging 0 to 20 F (-17 to -6 C).

What is the Best Time to Visit Arches National Park?

The best time to visit Arches National Park is different for everyone.

If you’re interested in winter, ALWAYS remember to check the forecast and road conditions because conditions change from day to day, and don’t follow a set pattern.

From our experience, this is what you can expect when visiting during the winter months:

Arches National Park in December – The Visitor’s Center is closed December 25, but the park is open 24/7. The weather and temperatures in December are more moderate than the other winter months. Yes, December is the snowiest month at Arches, but it’s not as cold as January, so even if it snows, you don’t usually get that bitter cold along with it. December has become our favorite month to visit Arches.

Keep in mind that the week between Christmas and New Year’s will be busy! We don’t find the lots completely full where you must circle around trying to find a spot, but it’s busy so you don’t get the quiet in the park like you do before and after this holiday time.

Arches National Park in January – January is usually the coldest month of the year at Arches National Park. The cold means anything wet stays wet or icy, which aren’t idea for hiking. You may need traction devices along some trails when hiking at Arches in the winter, and especially in January.

Arches National Park in February – The weather in February can be unpredictable. One day it will be snowing and cold, and the next day you might feel spring has arrived. Be prepared for winter conditions because even if you have a spring-like day, it can change quickly, and you don’t want to be caught unprepared.

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps:

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

Visiting Arches National Park:

Where to Stay Near Arches:

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.

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  1. Is it worth fighting the heat and crowds at the Grand Canyon to enjoy river rafting? I assume that is not an option in the fall or spring? Thanks!

    1. We haven’t done river rafting in the Grand Canyon so we can’t help you with that. Sorry. We always recommend spring and fall as alternatives to the hot summers for the SW. Spring may be a bit iffy with weather, but fall should be a good time. HTH!

  2. I want to visit Moab, but I just don’t know about doing in the winter! I’m such a punk, lol. I went to the Grand Canyon last year during Valentine’s Day and while it was reasonable during the day, when the sun began to set, it was a completely different story and I was not prepared. It’s always fun to go somewhere during low season so you don’t have to deal with too many lines.

    1. The stars are seriously out of this world. It’s hard to describe. When we do go to Arches in the summer it’s to see the Milky Way – spectacular!

  3. The more of your photos I saw the more I wanted to visit! Easily one of the most stunning natural sights I have come across!
    But why would anybody in their right mind go there in the summer? The heat would kill me. ?


    1. You can survive the summer heat by getting up early, or enjoying activities along the Colorado River (rafting, paddleboarding, etc.) I much prefer the winter or spring/fall!

  4. For my birthday in November I wanted to visit the Grand Canyon for the first time and see it at sunrise for these exact reasons! I hate crowds because then tend to spoil the beauty of a place. Selfie sticks and Ipads everywhere haha I hate it! I love going places off season so I can get the full experience without pushing and shoving others to get a decent picture or really feel the essence of a place! I am DYING to go to Arches hopefully sometime this year!

    1. I sometimes find myself taking the beauty for granted because I see it so often, but then when I hear visitors from other states or countries comment on the spectacular landscape, I feel lucky I can experience the scenery as often as I do. I hope you can plan a trip to visit…it’s breathtaking!

    1. Utah is unique because Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and Zion are all close to each other where you can see 5 parks with amazing and varied scenery without long driving distances between each of them. As you plan your road trip, remember the summer gets HOT and it’s the busy season. I would recommend visiting these times: #1 winter #2 spring #3 fall and avoid summer!!

    1. The US has amazing National Parks that should be on everyone’s bucket list: Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and Zion are all close to each other in Utah so you can see a TON of amazing and varied scenery without long driving distances between the parks. We meet visitors from Europe every time we visit these parks and they are all astounded at the landscape. Add it to your destination list!

  5. I visited Arches in the summer, and your post is convincing me to go back in the winter! And I remember people getting CRAZY if you interfered with their photos of Delicate Arch at sunset so it would be nice to avoid that!

    1. It is definitely MUCH more enjoyable when there aren’t hundreds of people crammed along the bowl. We avoid hiking to Delicate during the busy times, just not worth it.

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