Visiting Moab in December

Check out our tips for planning a trip to Moab in December. It’s a great month to visit this fun Utah town during the off-season. We enjoy our trips to Moab in the winter when there are fewer visitors and lodging rates are lower.

Known for its iconic red rock landscapes and stunning national parks, there are plenty of things to do in Moab, Utah in December if you enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, biking, photography, and more!

visiting moab utah in december

Use this Moab Utah Vacation Guide to plan a December vacation: weather, activities, what to pack, where to stay and more!

We live only a few hours away from Moab and have visited during every season and month of the year! The tips we share are based on our experiences visiting the area throughout the years, and specifically for the month of December!

Our number one tip is to dress for the weather! Use our Moab, Utah packing list to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for your December vacation! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

Moab packing lists for spring summer fall and winter
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A Photo Tour of Moab, Utah

Take a visual tour through the Moab, Utah area to see the stunning landscapes you’ll see when you visit!

Visiting Moab in December

December is a wonderful time to enjoy Moab adventures like hiking, biking, scenic drives, and photography.

The town begins to shift to the offseason and isn’t as crowded as the other times of year when visiting Moab. It does get busy the week between Christmas and New Years, but it’s nothing like the other seasons!

main street Moab Utah
Moab Main Street

Moab Weather in December

The average December Moab weather and temperatures: highs 45 and lows 22 degrees Fahrenheit. Snow is possible any time during the month

You’ll want to pack layers for the cold temperatures! And any time of year it’s important to stay hydrated and use sun protection.

LAYERS: We recommend at the minimum a fleece jacketgloves, and winter hat for the cold mornings and evenings. Waterproof hiking shoes are good too!

WATER: Moab is a high desert area so you should drink at least one gallon of water per day, and always carry water with you – hydration packs or carry refillable bottles in your backpack.

FOOD: Pack and eat healthy snacks because there may be NO services on the trails or scenic drives. 

SUN PROTECTION: Wear a sunhat and use sunscreen . Carry lip balm with sunscreen and hydrating lotion to apply as needed.

Things To Do in Moab in December

Moab is one of the popular places to visit in Utah for outdoor activities like hiking, canyoneering, rock climbing, offroading, biking, scenic drives, photography, and more!

Here’s a list of Moab winter activities to do in December.

Arches National Park with snow
Arches National Park with snow

National and State Parks Near Moab in December

Explore the two National Parks and one State Park in the Moab area. In December you can enjoy scenic drives or hiking trails at any time of day! Be prepared with winter clothing so you stay warm while exploring the parks in December.

In December 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!

Here are some tips to help you plan your visit to these destinations in December:

Arches National Park in December – 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.

Canyonlands National Park in December – Services are limited or closed at Island in the Sky or Needles. Remember that both areas of the park are remote locations so always be prepared with water, food and proper clothing so you can be self-reliant. Island in the Sky has amazing sunrise photo spots like Mesa Arch and Grand View Point!

Dead Horse Point State Park – This location is known for its stunning views of the Colorado River, dramatic vertical cliffs, canyons, and vista views. We highly recommend this location at sunset!

moab giants museum in utah

Moab Dinosaurs and Petroglyphs in December

The Moab Giants Museum is a MUST for anyone who loves dinosaurs! December is a great time to be outside walking along a trail of life-sized dinosaurs! There are also lots of places to see dinosaur tracks and petroglyphs in Moab too!

Moab Fisher Towers with snow
Fisher Towers with snow

Moab Hiking Trails in December

In December you’ll probably enjoy most of the Moab winter hikes to yourself!

Be prepared for trails to be muddy, snowy or icy if a storm rolls through. You may even need traction devices. We recommend you check in with the Moab BLM office before heading out on any hike to get the latest trail conditions.

Wear the appropriate winter hiking gear for the weather conditions. Your winter hiking day pack needs to include water, sunscreen and chapstick even in the winter!

Our favorite day hikes in Moab are:

And of course you can’t beat the trails in the National and State Parks:

biking trail along the Colorado River in Moab Utah
Moab biking trail

Biking in Moab in December

In December you may be the only one out riding the Moab biking trails which is so nice! You can rent bikes in town and even join a Moab bike tour if you aren’t sure what trails to tackle!

Winter photography at Canyonlands
Winter photography at Canyonlands

Moab Photography in December

Moab is also a bucket list destination for photographers. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to photograph the areas around Moab because the light at this time creates a spectacular glow on the red rocks that’s so beautiful!

In December you won’t need to get up “as early” or stay out “as late” as you do during the summer months which is nice!

We definitely recommend packing photographer gloves and having rechargeable hand warmers in your coat pockets!

We’ve created an Arches and Canyonlands Photography Guide detailing the best photo spots in these parks and our favorite 3 day itinerary some of our favorite ‘lesser known’ places to take pictures in Moab!

Arches National Park stargazing
Arches National Park stargazing

Moab Stargazing in December

When visiting Moab, you must take one evening to go outside and LOOK UP! In December the Milky Way is no longer visible in the northern hemisphere, but the endless sky of stars is jaw-dropping!

Arches, Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point are internationally recognized as one of the best places for stargazing because of the remote location, accessibility, altitude and clear skies.

Colorado River in Moab in the Winter
Colorado River in Moab in the Winter

Moab Scenic Drives in December

Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway – the 34-mile round-trip drive is a terrific half-day excursion from the Moab area to see great views of the Colorado River, ancient rock art, and dinosaur tracks. Potash Road or the Lower Colorado Scenic Byway runs along the Colorado River and ends at the border of Canyonlands National Park. We recommend this drive in the late afternoon when the red rocks glow and reflect in the river! It’s a bonus when you get to also photograph the reflection of white snow, red rocks, and blue water!

Arches National Park Scenic Drive – the full 43-mile scenic drive, including the spur roads, takes 2 to 3 hours. Add more time if you plan to walk around and take photos or do any hiking at any of the stops. in December 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.

Canyonlands Island in the Sky Scenic Drive – you’ll definitely want to have your camera ready to capture the beauty you’ll see at all 10 overlooks along this drive! In December 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!

Located near Needles Canyonlands you’ll find two stunning places to see views of Needles, Island in the Sky, Dead Horse Point, and the Moab area!

We recommend the Arches & Canyonlands GuideAlong App to hear fun behind-the-scenes stories and local tips that play automatically as you drive, based on your GPS location.

jeep driving a trail across slickrock in moab utah
Moab offroad trail

Off-roading in Moab in December

If you’re up for an adventure, plan to explore the off-road trails in Moab! Local tour companies offer 4×4 rentals for you to tackle the trails on your own. If you’re an inexperienced driver, we recommend you book a tour or have a guide ride along with you to navigate and teach.

We have used and recommend Outlaw Jeep Tours. You can also book a guided 4WD tour in Moab where you sit back and let the driver navigate the trails!

In December some offroad trails can be snow-covered or icy especially in shaded areas. We’ve had to turn around due to unsafe winter road conditions on some offroad trails. We recommend you check with the Moab BLM office for trail conditions before heading out!

Moab Tours in December

Here’s a list of fun Moab tours that are available in December. Booking a tour helps you explore all the amazing sights the area has to offer to make sure you don’t miss anything.

Moab tours in December could be limited when conditions aren’t safe to do the activity due to weather.

Moab Camping and Lodging in December

There are a variety of ways to enjoy Moab winter camping in December: RV Parks and Campgrounds, National Park Campgrounds, State Park Campgrounds, and BLM camping.

If camping is not your thing, here are many types of accommodations to choose from in Moab: budget-friendly hotels to higher-priced resorts.

Moab maps and travel guides

moab maps guides

Utah Bucket List

Check out our Utah Bucket List that includes ideas for things to see, do and taste all around the state! Grab the free download by clicking the graphic below!

utah bucket list - grab the free packet

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