Things To Do in Moab in January

As the new year begins, visiting Moab in January offers an exceptional and tranquil experience. Choose from a variety of things to do in Moab in January without the usual crowds, and engage in a winter getaway filled with adventure, history, and stunning landscapes!

Moab, Utah is located in Southeastern Utah close to Arches, Canyonlands, and Dead Horse Point State Park. These parks are known for their iconic red rock landscapes! There are plenty of fun-filled activities to do in Moab, Utah in January like hiking, biking, photography, and more!

things to do in Moab Utah in January

Use this Moab Utah Vacation Guide to plan your January vacation so you know what to expect regarding 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 the area throughout the years, and specifically during the month of January.

Use our Moab, Utah packing list to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for hiking in the winter! 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!

Moab Weather in January

The Moab winter weather in January means temperatures with highs 45 / lows 22 degrees F. If you don’t mind colder weather, and a chance of snow, January is a wonderful time to enjoy Moab adventures like hiking, biking and photography.

With proper preparation and gear, you can still enjoy Moab winter activities without the crowds during the other seasons, or the heat of summer!

Moab is about 4,000 feet above sea level so it does get cold in the winter, even if the sun is out. Snow is a rare occurrence in Moab, so most of the time you won’t have to worry about trudging through heavy snow or dealing with icy roads.

When it does snow, the roads in Arches National Park and Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point 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.

Winter clothing at Arches National Park
Winter clothing at Arches National Park

What to Pack for Moab in January

Dress in layers and pack warm winter clothing so you’ll actually want to get out of the car and enjoy the outdoor winter activities in Moab! Your hiking boots should be warm and waterproof.

  • Base Layers: Wicking base layers will give you the warmth you need to fight off the cold winter weather in Moab. Plus, you can take them off easily whenever you no longer need them. 
  • Fleece jacketsFleece jackets serve as a light layer on warmer days in the park but can also add warmth to your layering.
  • Insulated Jackets: Insulated jackets provide the perfect warmth whether you are going for a light hike or a more extended excursion. 
  • Wool socks: Do not wear cotton socks. It is best to wear wool socks for winter. Bring a spare just in case anything unexpected happens.
  • Insulated hats: An insulated hat will protect you from losing too much of your body temperature through your head.
  • Winter gloves: If it’s extremely cold, use an insulating glove inside a waterproof shell mitt to provide dexterity and warmth.
  • Waterproof hiking bootsHiking boots need to be waterproof. You may also need traction devices for some trails.

It’s important to be prepared with winter hiking gear if you plan to hike trails during the winter season.

winter hiking gear

Things To Do in Moab in January

We think January is one of the best times to visit Moab because it’s the off-season. There are fewer visitors and the rates to stay are lower than any other time of the year.

Balanced Rock at Arches National Park in the winter
Balanced Rock at Arches National Park in the winter

Moab National and State Parks in January

The two National Parks and one State Park near Moab are must-see places to visit in Utah! You’ll find fun things to see, do, and photograph at these parks in January.

The parks are open 24/7 all year long, but the Visitor Centers will be closed on New Year’s Day. After a snow storm, the park roads might be closed for several hours for plowing. 

The scenic drive roads, parking lots, pullouts, and hiking trails can be snow-covered or icy, especially in shaded areas. Check in at the Visitor Centers for the latest information on road and trail conditions.

Arches National Park in January – We often wish for snow when we take our January trip to Arches. The landscape of red rocks with white snow is so pretty to capture Arches National Park winter photos! The best times to photograph the park are sunrise and sunset. The colors are vibrant and the light creates a spectacular glow on the red rocks that cannot be missed.

Canyonlands National Park in January – Visitor services are reduced in the winter. There is no gas, food, or lodging at Canyonlands Island in the Sky or Needles Canyonlands. 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. Know what Canyonlands winter services are available as well as road and trail conditions before heading into the parks.

Dead Horse Point State Park – Hiking, mountain biking, and landscape photography are amazing things to do in January without the crowds! The views from Dead Horse Point Overlook are unforgettable, especially when the sun sets and lights up the landscape. It’s one of the best sunset spots in Moab!

Check out 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 as you drive through each park!

moab giants museum in utah
Moab Giants Museum

Moab Dinosaurs and Petroglyphs in January

The Moab Giants Museum is a MUST for anyone who loves dinosaurs! January is a great time to be outside walking along a trail of life-sized dinosaurs! If you’re visiting Moab with kids, put this activity on your list!!

There are also lots of Dinosaur sites near Moab to see dinosaur tracks. We like Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite. The place is full of real dinosaur footprints–it’s like a walk back in time. Just remember to look, not touch! We’ve got to keep those dinosaur tracks around for future explorers.

You’ll also find a few places to see petroglyphs in Moab. Some are located on a scenic drive just steps from your car while others will require a bit of hiking to see.

Mesa Arch trail with snow
Mesa Arch trail with snow

Moab Hikes in January

There are amazing Moab winter hikes to explore during the offseason. The Moab area includes hiking trails in two National Parks, one State Park, and on BLM land.

Before heading out on any Moab hike, especially in the winter, we recommend you check current trail conditions with the Visitor Center at the National or State Parks, or the Moab BLM office.

Be prepared for trails to be muddy, snowy or icy if a storm rolls through. You may even need traction devices. Your hiking day pack needs to include water, sunscreen and lip balm, even in the winter!

Our favorite day hikes in Moab are:

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

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

Moab Biking in January

Mountain bikers will enjoy the quiet trails in Moab in January. Yes, it will be cold, but with the right winter clothing, you can enjoy the trails to yourself without the usual crowds during the other times of year!

Just remember, daylight hours are shorter, so plan your Moab biking rides accordingly.

If you can’t bring your bike with you, there are make places in to town to rent bikes. You can even join a Moab bike tour if you aren’t sure what trails to tackle!

Moab winter photography
Moab winter photography near Fisher Towers

Moab Landscape Photography in January

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

Be sure you have your winter photography gear and clothing so the cold mornings and evenings are bearable! 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!

Stargazing at Arches
Stargazing at Arches National Park

Moab Stargazing in January

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

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 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
Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway in the winter

Moab Scenic Drives in January

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 January 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 January 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.

Moab offroad trail in the winter
Moab offroad trail

Moab Off-roading in January

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!

We recommend you check with the BLM office for the latest road conditions because some trails can be snow covered or icy, making them almost impossible to navigate! Trust us – been there, done that!

Moab Tours in January

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

Moab Camping in January

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

Braving the cold to experience the beauty of Moab in a different season can be an incredibly rewarding experience. One of the biggest benefits of winter camping in Moab is the lack of crowds.

During peak season, this small town is bustling with tourists and outdoor enthusiasts, but come wintertime, it’s a completely different story. You’ll have the campsites and trails practically to yourself, allowing for a more intimate and peaceful experience with nature.

Moab maps and travel guides

moab maps guides

Places to Stay in Moab in the Winter

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! You’ll find fun things to do to add to your Moab vacation itinerary!

utah bucket list - grab the free packet

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