Moab Winter Activities + Travel Tips

There are many Moab winter activities to enjoy during the off-season. Winter is one of our favorite times to visit because there are fewer visitors and the rates to stay are lower than any other time of the year.

Visiting Moab in the winter is our favorite time because it’s the off-season. There are fewer visitors and the rates to stay are lower than any other time of the year. But it’s important to know the weather, services and activities available in the winter.

moab utah winter activities

Use this Moab Utah Vacation Guide to plan a trip in the winter: weather, activities, what to pack, where to stay and more! We live only a few hours away from Moab so we’ve had the opportunity to visit many times during all four seasons. 

The tips we share are based on our experiences visiting Moab during the winter months. The most important tip is to have the right clothing and gear for the weather and temperatures for the time you’ll be there. Grab your free Moab, Utah packing list by clicking the image below!

Moab packing lists for spring summer fall and winter
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Winter Packing List for Moab, Utah

winter hiking gear

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!

Moab Winter Weather

Moab is about 4,000 feet above sea level so it does get cold in the winter, even if the sun is out. The Moab weather in the winter is cold and unpredictable, especially when a rain or snow storm rolls through.

Here’s what to expect during the winter months:

Dress in layers and pack warm winter clothing so you’ll actually want to get out of the car and enjoy the outdoor activities! Your hiking boots should be warm and waterproof. No one wants soggy feet!

After a snow storm, the roads in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks might be closed for plowing for a few hours. Keep in mind that the roads, parking lots, and pullouts in the parks can still be icy, especially in shaded areas.

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

If you’re wondering what it’s like to visit Moab at other times of the year, check out our article: best time to visit Moab.

main street Moab Utah
Moab Main Street

Moab Winter Activities

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

There are so many exciting Moab adventures and activities, even in the winter months. Here’s our list of winter activities you can do in the Moab area!

Mesa Arch with snow
Mesa Arch with snow

Arches, Canyonlands, and Dead Horse Point in the Winter

The one must-do when you’re in Moab is visiting the two National Parks and the one Utah State Park near Moab. Explore the scenic drives and hiking trails… and don’t forget to take pictures of these scenic parks!

These guides can help you plan your trip to these parks in the winter! 

Arches National Park 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.

Canyonlands National Park in the Winter – 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!

In the winter 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!

moab giants museum
Moab Giants museum

Moab Historical Sites in the Winter

Get to know the history and the geography of the area around Moab, especially the petroglyphs and dinosaur tracks you can see! The winter months are a great time to be outside walking along a trail of life-sized dinosaurs!

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

Moab Biking in the Winter

Winter is a great time to bike around Moab and not worry about crowded trails or getting too hot like you do during the summer and fall.

If there’s been a rain or snow storm, the trails could be muddy, snowy or icy so check conditions before heading out.

You can also join a Moab bike tour to explore the amazing landscape in the area!

Corona Arch in Moab Utah
Corona Arch

Moab Winter Hikes

There are many Moab winter hikes to explore in the winter. It’s a terrific way to see and photograph this scenic area filled with sandstone arches, pinnacles, petroglyphs and even dinosaur prints!

Our favorite day hikes in Moab are:

You will find trails for all hiking levels at the National and State Parks near Moab as well:

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!

Garden of Eden with snow
Winter photography at Arches National Park

Moab Winter Photography

We love it when it snows in Moab so we can photograph the white snow against the red rock. Be sure to pack your camera and download our camera gear checklist so you don’t forget anything.

The best Moab photography happens during the sunrise and sunset hours when the sun on the red rocks is vibrant and glowing!

Be sure you have your winter photography gear and clothing so the cold mornings and evenings are bearable! We recommend at a minimum:

If you’re SERIOUS about photography in Moab, check out our Arches & Canyonlands 3 Day Itinerary & Photography Guide!

Moab Winter Stargazing

Yes, it will be cold at night, but you really should take a night for stargazing. Leave the city of Moab and just look up to see a sky full of stars! 

Arches, Canyonlands, and Dead Horse are all International Dark Sky Parks which makes them absolutely perfect for seeing thousands of stars in the sky. In the winter the Milky Way isn’t as visible as it is during the other times of year! 

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

Moab Scenic Drives in the Winter

Winter in Moab brings a serene beauty to the scenic drives that is simply unparalleled.

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 the winter 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 the winter 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 a few more scenic drives near Needles:

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.

Moab sand hill
Moab sand hill

Moab Sand Hill in the Winter

Kids and adults love the Moab sand hill. It’s a fun Moab activity any time of year! You’ll find the large sand hill on the side of the road across from the entrance to Arches. It’s totally free to sled, roll or run down sand! 

CHECK OUT our list of more kid-friendly things to do in Moab!

Jeep on the Hell's Revenge Trail
Jeep on the Hell’s Revenge Trail

Moab Off-roading in the Winter

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 the Winter

Here’s a list of fun Moab tours that are available during the winter months. 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 the winter could be limited when conditions aren’t safe to do the activity due to weather.

Moab Winter Camping and Lodging

There are a variety of ways to enjoy Moab winter camping: 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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