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Are you looking for a fun outdoor adventure destination where you can enjoy solitude?

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 Arches National Park near Moab, Utah at various times throughout year. Each season has its advantages and disadvantages for things to do, explore and photograph at Arches.

Use this guide to help you plan an amazing trip full of outdoor winter adventures:

• What to Pack When Visiting Arches in the Winter

• 5 Reasons to Visit Arches in the Winter

• Where to Stay in Arches During the Winter

• Other Things to Do Near Arches in the Winter

• FAQs for Planning a Winter Trip to Arches

 

Arches National Park in the winter is fabulous! Yes, it may be a bit cold, and you may get a bit of snow, but having the park to yourself is the best! Use our tips to plan your winter vacation to Arches! #nationalparks #arches #archesnationalpark #travelplanning #photojeepers

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WHAT TO PACK FOR A TRIP TO ARCHES IN THE WINTER

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 | → Check out 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

Winter Clothing Guide for Outdoor Adventure 

Winter Packing List for Arches National Park


 

5 REASONS TO VISIT ARCHES IN THE WINTER

 

1. No Lines of Traffic or Crowds

If you’ve ever been to Arches during the summer or a holiday weekend, you know it gets crowded.

  • You experience lines of cars to enter the park.
  • The parking lots at the various points of interest are full and you must drive around and around until a space opens up.

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

one jeep in the parking lot at Arches National Park in the winter

Empty parking lots at Arches in the winter!

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

Taking photographs of the formations and arches in the park 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.

Delicate Arch is the most iconic symbol of Arches National Park.

Delicate Arch is the most iconic symbol of Arches National Park.

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.

 

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.

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. 

Devil’s Garden Trail Guide

10 Amazing Hiking Trails in Arches

 

 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.

Winter photography at Arches can vary: one day there is a contrast of snow on redrock; and the next day the sun melts the snow and blue skies complement the sandstone formations.

Turret Arch with snow when visiting Arches in the winter.

Turret Arch with snow when visiting Arches in the winter.

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.

Photographers at Delicate Arch at sunset.

Photographers at Delicate Arch at sunset.

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.

Arches National Park Photography Tips

 

3 Day Itinerary for Arches & Canyonlands

 

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!

Endless starry skies at Arches National Park.

Endless starry skies at Arches National Park.

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.

 

WHERE TO STAY NEAR ARCHES DURING THE WINTER

READ OUR FULL GUIDE: Places to stay near Arches National Park in Moab

 

Camping in Arches in the Winter

Between November and February, there are 25 sites at Devils Garden Campground, first-come, first-served. There are restrooms and drinking water at the campground.

 

Hotels and Vacation Rentals in Moab

There are no hotels in Arches so most people stay in the nearby town of Moab. You’ll find restaurants and places to shop which adds to the appeal to find accommodations in 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’s a $40 coupon to Airbnb!

Here’s a list of our absolute favorite places to stay in Moab:

• Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Moab – we enjoyed our stay and highly recommend this hotel due to its location

• Purple Sage – our all-time favorite place to stay in Moab  →Book the Purple Sage via Airbnb

• 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!

• Condos south of town – we really like the King size bed in the master, washer and dryer in the unit and a swimming pool/hot tub (just a 5 minute drive south of Moab)

 

Sign up for the Your Photography Journey group!

 

FAQ’S FOR VISITING ARCHES NATIONAL PARK IN THE WINTER

 

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?

 

Arches National Park at dusk during the blue hour.

Arches National Park at dusk during the blue hour.

 

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?

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 these months:

Arches 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.

Arches 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 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.


 

 

RESOURCES TO PLAN A TRIP TO ARCHES

→ Arches in the Fall

→ Arches in the Winter

→ Arches National Park Hiking Trails

→ Arches Packing List

→ Where to Stay in Moab Near Arches

 

More Places to Visit Near Arches

→ Canyonlands Island in the Sky

→ Canyonlands Needles

→ Dead Horse Point State Park

→ Moab Adventures: Cool Things to Do

 

 

Click to Pin for Later: Arches in the Winter

Use this guide to help you plan an amazing trip full of outdoor winter adventures at Arches National Park | Planning a Winter Trip to Arches | What to Pack When Visiting Arches in the Winter | 5 Reasons to Visit Arches in the Winter | Where to Stay in Arches During the Winter #nationalparks #archesnationalpark #wintertravel #photojeepers

 

 

 
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