There are affiliate links in here. I get a small commission if you purchase through them at no extra cost to you.
I love visiting Arches National Park in winter. It’s my favorite time to visit and I actually avoid going both Zion and Arches in summer for a lot of reasons (it’s so busy, so expensive, and so hot.)
There aren’t really specific things to do in Arches in winter that’s different than summer, hiking is just a lot more comfortable because it isn’t 5000 degrees celsius.
This post won’t be about specific things to do in Arches in winter but more tips for visiting and things to know before you go. We spent a week in Moab in December 2021 and planned to go back again over the winter but moved instead.
I wish we did a couple more hikes while we were there (Park Avenue and Devils Garden loop) but I did get to cross two things off my National Park bucket list so it was still wonderful.
This was my second visit to Arches National Park in winter. The first time we got to see Garden of Eden and Devils Garden with some snow but this second trip we didn’t get any snow, which was a bummer but I still loved it.
Travel Services I Recommend:
AllTrails – This is my favorite hike tracking app.
Discover Cars – I recommend Discover Cars for rental cars.
Booking.com – This is great for finding and booking hotels.
Get Your Guide – I recommend Get Your Guide for booking tours.
National Park Obsessed – This is the best national park planner.
Skyscanner – Skyscanner is great for finding and booking flights.
See all my resources here.
National Park Goodies
- If you’re planning to visit three or more national parks within a year from your trip, definitely get the America the Beautiful pass. It will save you money in the long run if you’re going to more than three parks in a year. Buy the pass here.
- If you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking on your trip, or even at home, check out AllTrails! This is my favorite app to find, keep track of, and track my hiking activity. And it’s FREE! Sign up here.
- This Ultimate National Park Planning Bundle is a must-have. You get two ebooks and a planner, saving 50% by getting them as a bundle! If you want all the details, this is the bundle for you. Buy the Ultimate bundle here.
- This National Park Planner (one of the ebooks from the bundle above) is perfect if you just want some guidance in your planning. Buy the planner here.
- Get yourself a little National Park notebook to write all about your adventures while you’re on the road. These from Field Notes are all very cute! If you want one for all of the NPS sites (400+!) then this one is for you!
- Before your trip, get some national park apparel for your trip!
- Consider reading some of these books set in national parks before your big trip, on your adventure, or once you get home to take you back to the parks until next time.
First off, yes, Arches National Park is open in winter
Arches National Park is open in winter, it does not close at all throughout the year. The visitor center is closed on Christmas, though, and has limited hours (9-4) from November 1 to February 28. The campground doesn’t even close! At least half of it doesn’t.
Camping reservations are not required
Now that you know the campground doesn’t close, it also doesn’t require reservations! The bathrooms at the campground are still open and drinking water is still available but you need to get firewood at the visitor center or in town.
Consider bringing microspikes
This isn’t always necessary on a visit to Arches in winter, but if there is snow in the forecast, it’s a good idea to bring, especially if you plan to hike a lot.
The trails that microspikes would be critical on if it’s icy/snowy are Delicate Arch, Fiery Furnace, and the Devils Garden Primitive Loop. These will help when it comes to hiking on snowy and icy areas so you don’t slip.
When we visited Arches in February a few yeas ago, we hiked to Landscape Arch which is in Devils Garden, and there were some spots that were a little slippery. Not enough to need microspikes but if anything beyond Landscape Arch was like that or worse, they would be necessary.
The microspikes are basically like mini crampons to prevent you from slipping. We didn’t need them on our recent trip to Arches in December 2022 but definitely needed (and didn’t have) them for our Zion winter trip. It really just depends on where you’re going and the upcoming forecast. Buy microspikes here.
It can snow
Moab averages just nine inches of snow per year, so it’s not super likely you’ll be dealing with if you visit Arches National Park in winter, but it’s definitely a possibility. If it does, the road may be temporarily closed for a few hours for plowing.
And it may not be snowing when you’re there, but there could be some lingering from a previous snowfall, especially in shady areas on trails (hence the possible need for microspikes.)
Keep an eye on the forecast approaching your trip, especially if it is in January or February since those are the months most likely to get snow, and be prepared when you pack by bringing lots of layers.
It might not snow but it can be cold
Even if you don’t get snow on your winter trip to Arches, it can still be pretty cold. When we were there in December, I was wearing my warm hat and gloves pretty much the whole time. I think I hiked in a sweatshirt maybe once that week.
Like the snow, keep an eye on the forecast before you go to be sure you pack the right gear. They key is really just bringing a variety of layers so you’re ready for the cool temperatures and possible warm temperatures, too.
Also, it can be windy. The day we hiked Fiery Furnace was pretty windy. It wasn’t bad for most of the hike because it’s kind of enclosed as you hike through a lot of fins but the beginning and end, especially, were a lot colder because of the wind.
No entry permit is needed
Starting in April of 2022, a timed entry permit is required for Arches until October to help cut down on crowds and the park being closed mid-day because it’s full. If you are visiting Arches in the winter, though, you won’t need to worry about getting a timed entry permit!
Photographing Delicate Arch without people is easier
Delicate Arch is still popular and busy in the winter but it won’t be as busy as seeing it in the summer. You may still have to wait to get pictures under it or without people in it, but it will be a lot easier.
AND, if you’re luck, you may be able to see it with a dusting of snow which sounds magical. Whether the arch has snow on it or not, the La Sal Mountains behind it probably will and that is a beautiful sight.
Skip Devils Garden Loop and Fiery Furnace if it’s snowy or icy
If you have microspikes, this might not be applicable, but if you don’t, I would avoid these two hikes. They’re the most difficult hikes in the park and do require a lot of rock scrambling and maneuvering that would be very difficult if it’s icy.
Halfway through Fiery Furnace I said I would never do that hike if it was icy or snowy and the Devils Garden Primitive Loop is even more difficult. So if you want to hike those and it has snowed recently or will during your visit, microspikes! You can reach out to the park to find out trail conditions before you go.
It’s a lot less busy
I think you get this by now, but if you visit Arches in winter, is will be way less busy! In the past over the summer, Arches would sometimes close by 10 AM because the parking was full.
For the most part, that isn’t an issue in the winter. I can have it’s busy times (see the next point) but overall, it is way less busy. We saw a lot or parking areas that were totally empty or big parking lots with just a few cars in them when we visited Arches in December. It was wonderful.
Unless you visit over holidays
The exception to Arches not being busy in winter is holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Those will be very busy. And I know March is probably technically spring, but also avoid Easter because it’s a holiday and it’s also Jeep Week.
It’s MUCH more affordable
Moab is SO much more affordable in winter, it’s wild. The perfect example of this: When we visited Arches in December, we spent five nights at the Sleep Inn which is not right in the heart of downtown but it’s close enough to walk easily. Like, five minutes from there to the main intersection.
For the five nights we were there, we spent $328 for the hotel. For five nights. For the same days (Friday to Wednesday) in July, the same hotel is $1,236! That’s a $908 difference. WILD!
A lot of places in Moab are closed or have weird hours
There are a lot of restaurants in Moab that are closed in the winter or have weird hours. There are a lot of places that are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays or just have weird hours and Google doesn’t always reflect this.
This isn’t a huge deal but it can be really annoying when you’re trying find somewhere to eat after a long day of hiking. It’s definitely not a reason to avoid visiting Arches in winter, just something to know.
There are no ranger-led hikes
If you want to do a ranger-led hike, like Fiery Furnace, winter is not the time to go because those hikes aren’t running. This isn’t an issue for a lot of people, but if you were set on a guided walk or hike, this isn’t the time to go. They also don’t do campfire talks in the winter at Arches.
What to pack for visiting Arches National Park in winter
Warm hat – You’ll obviously want to keep your ears warm in the winter. Check out the hat here.
Microspikes – These are very handy to have for hiking in the desert in winter. They aren’t always necessary but if trails are icy and steep, these make hiking much easier. Buy microspikes here.
Gloves – If you plan on being outside all day, you’ll probably want thicker gloves, but these are perfect for a few hours. Buy my gloves here.
Hand and toe warmers – If you don’t want to get thicker gloves, bring some hand warmers. If your feet get really cold really easily, definitely bring toe warmers. They’re a game-changer. Buy hand warmers here.
Warm socks – I love my Darn Tough socks. I only have one pair right now but I think next time I need hiking socks, I’ll get these again.
Warm boots – I love my Sorel boots. They’re cute, comfy, and warm. Plus, there is room under my toes for toe warmers. Buy my boots here.
Patagonia Synchilla – I think of my Patagonia sweatshirts, the Synchilla is the warmest. I have two of these and really like them.
Utah posts you may also like:
Have you been to Arches National Park in the winter? What did you think of it? Do you want to visit Arches in the winter?