Are you looking for a fun winter vacation idea? Visit Arches National Park in the winter!
We visit at various times throughout year and created this Arches National Park travel guide to help you plan your vacation during the winter months.
November through February is the off-season at Arches National Park which makes it the perfect time to plan a trip!
Keep reading for information about what to pack, where to stay and things to do when visiting Arches in the winter.
Here are some itineraries for Arches National Park to help you plan the perfect vacation:
- Arches National Park in One Day
- Two Days in Arches National Park
- Three Days in Arches National Park
- Arches National Park and Canyonlands in One Day
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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 the Winter
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!
During the winter months you can enjoy a full day in the park without sweating and worrying about heat exhaustion like you do in the summer.
Is Winter a Good Time to Visit Arches National Park?
We LOVE visiting Arches National Park in the winter without the crowds! But the weather can be unpredictable with snow and cold temperatures so it’s not for everyone.
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:
Arches Weather in the Winter
Winter at Arches National is cold with possible rain or snow storms. Here are the temperatures you can expect during the winter months:
- December: Highs 45 | Lows 23 degrees F
- January: Highs 44 | Lows 22 degrees F
- February: Highs 52 | Lows 35 degrees F
You won’t experience large snow storms at Arches, but even small amounts of snow or ice can make local trails and roads impassable. You can see current Arches National Park weather conditions on the NPS website.
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.
Arches & Canyonlands AUDIO TOUR
“Download the app to your phone – no cell or wifi service needed. Based on your GPS location, the app takes you on a guided tour of the park and points out all the interesting features and stops. It’s like having a park ranger in the car with you.”
Things to Do at Arches National Park in the Winter
Check out this list of fun outdoor things to do at Arches National Park during December, January, and February.
Arches Visitor Center in the Winter
When visiting Arches National Park you should make the visitor center your first stop! It is open every day in the winter. 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 Scenic Drive in the Winter
The Arches National Park scenic drive is a must-do activity. It includes two spur roads and takes about 2 to 3 hours to complete. You’ll add more time if you plan to stop and take photos or hike any of the trails along the route.
The 43 mile road is paved with pullouts and parking lots perfect for any Arches National Park photography you want to do. Some of the arches and landmarks can be seen from the parking lot, or by a short walk.
Keep in mind the pullouts and parking lots could be snowy and icy, especially in shaded areas.
Download the Arches National Park map to navigate along the scenic road to each point of interest.
Hiking in the Winter at Arches
Arches National Park hiking trails in the winter are awesome if you don’t mind wearing layers. Remember it’s important to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun: pack water bottles, wear sunscreen and a sunhat!
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.
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.
- What to Bring on a Day Hike
- Hiking Gear and Tips for Kids
- Winter Clothing for Hiking
- Photography Gear for Hiking
Winter Photography at Arches National Park
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.
Taking pictures at Arches 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.
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 a little more relaxing and enjoyable.
You will definitely want photographer gloves and rechargeable hand warmers for those sunrise and sunset photography outings. Don’t forget a headlamp for navigating the dark before sunrise and after sunset!
→ CHECK OUT our 3 Day Arches & Canyonlands Itinerary and Photography Guide
Winter Stargazing at Arches
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.
BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps:
Planning an Arches National Park Vacation:
- Arches National Park Travel Guide
- Best Time to Visit Arches National Park
- Things to Do at Arches National Park
- Arches National Park Packing List
- Arches National Park with Kids
- Arches National Park Photography
- Tours Near Moab, Utah
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.
- Places to Stay Near Arches National Park
- Hotels Near Arches National Park
- Places to Stay Near Arches National Park with Kids
- Arches National Park Camping
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 Near Arches – we really like rentals with a kitchen, washer and dryer and amenities like a swimming pool and hot tub.