Canyonlands Winter Camping + Travel Tips

Here’s all the information you need to know about Canyonlands winter camping at the Island in the Sky and Needles districts. Canyonlands National Park in the winter is a time when the park is less crowded, allowing the opportunity to witness the stunning vistas in peaceful solitude.

Winter camping in Canyonlands requires careful preparation. Always check weather conditions, adhere to park regulations, and ensure you have the appropriate gear to stay warm and safe.

Canyonlands winter camping

Use this Canyonlands National Park guide for a list campgrounds, facilities available, and reservation information for winter camping in the park.

In case you can’t get a spot in the park, we’ll list campgrounds and RV Parks near Canyonlands that are open in the winter.

We live only a few hours away from Canyonlands so we’ve had the opportunity to visit many times during every season. The tips we share are based on our experiences visiting Canyonlands National Park throughout the years.

Our biggest tip is to be prepared for the weather so you’re able to enjoy the outdoor activities you want to do at Canyonlands! Use our Canyonlands Packing List to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in the winter! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

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A Photo Tour of Canyonlands National Park

Take a visual tour through Canyonlands National Park (and Dead Horse Point) to see the stunning landscape in the parks!

Winter Weather at Canyonlands

The winter Canyonlands National Park weather will be cold:

  • DECEMBER: Highs 45 and lows 23 degrees F
  • JANUARY: Highs 44 and lows 22 degrees F
  • FEBRUARY: Highs 52 and lows 28 degrees F

You’ll want to check current Canyonlands road conditions before making the long drive only to find out the park is closed.

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

During the winter you need to be prepared for rain and snow. You will definitely want to pack winter clothing and dress in layers. 

If you’re not used to Utah’s dry air, you’ll also want lip balm and lotion!

winter hiking gear
snow at Canyonlands in the winter
Snow at Canyonlands in the winter

Winter Camping at Canyonlands

The winter months at Canyonlands are cold and the weather is unpredictable. Due to the remote location of Canyonlands, always be prepared with water, food and proper clothing so you can be self-reliant.

After a snow storm, paved roads may close temporarily so crews can plow. Unpaved backcountry roads may be impassible for longer periods of time so check road conditions before you head out!

Services are limited or closed in the winter. Remember there is no gas, food or lodging at Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky or Needles Canyonlands.

Know what Canyonlands winter services are available as well as road and trail conditions before heading into the parks.

Both areas of the park are remote locations so always be prepared with water, food, and proper clothing so you can be self-reliant.

tent camping in Moab in the winter
Tent camping in Moab in the winter

Canyonlands Winter Camping Sites

Here’s a list of the campgrounds and backcountry sites open for winter camping at Canyonlands Island in the Sky and Canyonlands Needles:

Island in the Sky: Willow Flat Campground 

The only option for camping in the winter at Island in the Sky is at Willow Flat Campground. It’s a small campground with only 12 sites. It is fully operational all-year-round, but the sites fill quickly.

It’s located close to the Green River Overlook. The campground has pit toilets, several picnic tables, and fire rings.

There is no potable water, so make sure you pack water for your stay. The campground also allows pets.

The site has a “first come, first served” policy. You can stay for a maximum of seven days.

Willow Flat Facilities:

  • Areas for pitching tents
  • Fire pits with grill plates
  • Pit toilets
  • Covered and uncovered picnic tables with benches

Island in the Sky: Murphy Point Overlook

Some campers believe that Murphy Point Overlook offers one of the best-kept secrets in camping due the view, especially at sunrise and sunset.

There is a 1.8-mile hike to get to the overlook and camping area. There is a limit of one permit (1 group up to 7 people) for this camping zone. Murphy Point Overlook is an open desert site without facilities nearby

Island in the Sky: Syncline Campsite

The campsite is reached via the Syncline loop trail. The trail is a strenuous 7.9 miles round trip. It’s a primitive camping site.

The Needles Campground

Fourteen campsites in Loop A are always on a “first come, first served” basis. RVs and trailers are allowed, but there’s a maximum of length of 28 feet.  

There is NO potable water in the winter at Needles. Camp sites have toilets, fire rings, picnic tables, and trash cans.

  • Camp only in designated sites.
  • Maximum occupancy: 10 people, 2 vehicles per campsite.
  • Maximum stay: 7 consecutive nights.
  • Quiet hours: 8 pm to 8 am.
  • Check-out time: 10 am.
  • Pets must be leashed at all times.
  • Wood fires in grates only. Wood gathering is prohibited. Do not leave garbage in fire grates.
  • Charcoal cooking fires are allowed in fire pans and grills. Place ashes in fire grates.
  • Properly extinguish all fires.
  • Generators may only be used between 8 am and 10 am, or from 4 pm to 8 pm.

Canyonlands Backcountry Camping in the Winter

Even in the winter, you must have a backcountry permit for overnight travel.

Island in the Sky: You can get permits at the Canyonlands Island in the Sky Visitor Center that is open 7 days a week, but with shorter hours in the winter. The Visitor Center closes early on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve, and it’s closed on Christmas Day.

When the Visitor Center is closed, you can reserve your permit online at

  • Select “activities and experiences”
  • Select Canyonlands National Park Overnight Backcountry Permits
  • Click “check availability”
  • Add a date, number in your group and Island in the Sky backpacking
  • You’ll see availability for the various Zones

Needles: You can get permits at the Needles Visitor Center that is open 7 days through December 10. The Visitor Center is closed from December 11 through February 11.

When the Visitor Center is closed, you can only get these backcountry permits for Needles at the self-issue permit station outside the Visitor Center.

Contact the Canyonlands Backcountry Reservation Office for backcountry permits for Peekaboo campsites and day-use trips on Lavender Canyon and Peekaboo/Horse Canyon roads. These roads are often impassable in winter.

More information about Canyonlands overnight backpacking.

tent camping near Canyonlands
Tent camping near Canyonlands

BLM Winter Camping Near Canyonlands

You’ll find good camping locations on BLM land in the Moab area. Most individual campsites are first-come, first-served (no reservations available). Be prepared to pay at the campground with exact cash or check.

Some campgrounds are closed seasonally from the end of November to mid-February so be sure to check updated information!

Facilities and guidelines:

  • picnic tables
  • vault toilets
  • fire rings
  • NO drinking water available
  • bring your own firewood (firewood gathering is not allowed)
  • campsites limited to 10 people and two vehicles (or one vehicle and a trailer)
  • RV sites have no hook-ups – generator hours are 8am to 8pm
  • 14-day limit

The 3 BLM campgrounds near Canyonlands Island in the Sky:

  • Lone Mesa Group Sites (seasonal closures)
  • Horsetheif Campground (seasonal closures)
  • Cowboy Campground

There are more BLM Campgrounds in the Moab area as well.

RV camper in Canyonlands
RV camper in Canyonlands

RV Parks Open in the Winter Near Canyonlands

Here’s a list of RV parks near Canyonlands National Park open in the winter if you’re looking for a campground with more amenities than the campgrounds in the park.

Arches Gateway Campground

Formerly Moab Valley RV Resort, Arches Gateway Campground is minutes away from Moab and Arches National Park. There are RV sites, tent sites, cabins, and fun Airstream rentals at this pet-friendly resort!

For RVs, you can pull in or back into sites that accommodate RVs between 20-45 feet in length. All areas come with full hookups of 30- or 50-amp electricity. Each site has a charcoal grill, picnic table, and WiFi access.

The amenities here include: on-site store, restroom & shower facilities, laundry, swimming pool, bicycle wash & repair station, life-size chess & checkers, dog park, putting green, and a playground!

North Moab Campground

Formerly Slickrock Campground, North Moab Campground is a pet-friendly, year-round campground close to several restaurants and shopping areas. The RV park offers RV sites, tent sites and cabin vacation rentals.

Various amenities are available on-site including WiFi, cable TV access, laundry, restrooms & showers, store, swimming pool, and playground.

RV sites at the campground are suitable for RVs from 25 to 50 feet in length, including those with slide-outs, back-ins, and pull-throughs.

On-site water and electric outlets are available for rooftop tents, vans, small campers, and large tents.

Moab Downtown Campground

Formerly known as Canyonlands RV Resort & Campground, Moab Downtown Campground is open year-round. There are RV sites, tent sites, and camping cabins.

Amenities include a general store, gas station, showers, laundry facilities, swimming pool, splash pad, playground, cable and WiFi access, and an ATM. 

A full hookup is provided at each RV site, including a natural or cement pad, picnic table, and fire pit. They can accommodate RVs up to 50 feet in length at these sites. The sites have a picnic table and a fire pit. An on-site dump station is also available.

OK RV Park

There is no doubt that OK RV Park is one of the most popular RV campgrounds near Arches National Park. OK RV Park offers RV sites, glamping tents, glamping tipis, or cabins.

RV sites include full hookups (water, sewer, electric), free WiFi and cable, and access to the park facilities and common areas.

The amenities here include laundry facilities, showers, toilets, and pet-friendly accommodations in your own RV.

Check out the other rentals available at OK RV Park:

Moab Rim Campground

Located in the Spanish Valley just two miles south of Moab, the Moab Rim Campground offers RV sites, tent sites and cabin rentals at Moab Rim.

The amenities include restrooms, showers, WiFi, cable TV, playground, pet station, and snack items for sale on site. Most of the sites have fire rings and grass.

The campground has large additional parking areas to fit in dozens of accessory trucks and trailers at no extra charge!

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps

Canyonlands Itineraries

Check out our done-for-you 1, 2, and 3-day Canyonlands Itineraries to help you plan your vacation based on the time you have to spend at the park:

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