All About Visiting Arches National Park In Winter

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.

Fiery furnace hike arches national park utah
From our visit to Arches National Park in December

National Park Pass + Other National Park Deals

Devils garden arches national park
From a visit to Arches National Park in February

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.

Devils garden arches national park
Devils Garden area in Arches in February

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.

Tower arch trail arches national park utah
From our visit to Arches in December

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.

double arch arches national park moab utah
From our visit to Arches National Park in February

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.

Fiery furnace hike arches national park utah
Inside the Fiery Furnace in Arches in December

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.

garden of eden arches national park winter arches national park
Arches in February

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.

winter arches national park
Also Arches in February

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.

Tower arch trail arches national park utah
Arches in December

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!

Delicate arch hike arches national park moab utah

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.

winter arches national park
Arches National Park in February

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.

Delicate arch hike arches national park moab utah

What to pack for visiting Arches National Park in winter

Warm hat – You’ll definitely want a warm hat for a winter Gooseberry Falls trip.  I have a different color of this hat and love it.  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 socksSmartwool socks are always a good choice, but I also love my Farm to Feet socks.  I usually just get hiking socks and might wear a lighter pair underneath.  Check out warm socks here.

Warm bootsI love my Sorel boots.  They’re cute, comfy, and warm.  Plus, there is room under my toes for toe warmers.  Buy my boots here.

Cozy Sweatshirt – I have a few different Patagonia sweatshirts and love them all.  They’re great for layering in cold weather.  I have two Re-tools, a Better Sweater, and a Synchilla.  Sometimes you can find them on sale on REI or Backcountry.  I also like to keep an eye out for them on Poshmark (use code REDAROUNDWORLD for $10 off your first purchase) and Mercari (you can save $10 with that link as well!)  I’ve found some really good deals on both.

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?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.