Moab In Winter: Seasonal Activities, Weather, Tips, And More!

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Are you planning to visit Moab, Utah in winter?

Visiting Moab in the winter is my absolute favorite and now I don’t want to go back in the summer! It’s generally one of my favorite places to visit in Utah in winter.

Most people visit Moab in the summer so visiting in the winter is an entirely different experience, not just because there aren’t crowds, but because it can be snowy!

If you’ve ever considered visiting Moab in the winter (if you haven’t, you should) this is where you’ll find everything you need to know before you go.

snowy road on the way to Canyonlands national park in winter
Snowy road when we went to Newspaper Rock on a Moab winter trip in 2018

National Park Goodies

trees covered in snow in Canyonlands national park in winter
More snow from our 2018 Moab winter trip

Can you visit Moab in winter?

Absolutely! It’s my personal favorite time to visit since it’s nowhere near as busy and the weather is 1000 times better than in the summer.

Does it snow in Moab?

Yes but not very much. It may just get occasional dustings but nearby areas can get more.

The La Sal Mountains get enough snow for snowshoeing and cross country skiing.

Island in the Sky in Canyonlands may get a bit more snow since it’s at a higher elevation but it still doesn’t get as much as the La Sals.

The first winter we were there we went out to The Needles District but had to turn around at Newspaper Rock because it was so snowy, the roads were pretty bad.

Arches also had a little snow at the same time but Moab didn’t have any.

Newspaper rock with snow falling in Canyonlands national park in winter
Newpaper Rock while it’s snowing

Moab winter weather

The weather in Moab in winter is pretty mild. It can get below freezing for sure, you’ll want to be prepared with warm clothes. Canyonlands may be a little colder than Moab itself.

Moab in December

If you’re planning on visiting Moab in December, expect high temperatures to be in the 40s to low 50s while lows are in the low 20s and high teens.

December is the second snowiest month with a whopping average of 3.5 inches. It gets just 0.8 inches of rain on average.

Moab in January

If you’re planning on visiting Moab in January, the coolest month of the year in Moab, expect highs in the low 40s and high 30s. Low temperatures will be in the low 20s and high teens.

January is the snowiest month in Moab, averaging 4.5 inches of snow. It gets about 0.67 inches of rain in January.

Moab in February

If you’re planning on visiting Moab in February, expect it to be warming up a bit with highs in the high 40s and low 50s. Low temperatures will be in the 20s.

February has an average of two inches of snow and just 0.63 inches of rain.

seven deer in the snow at Canyonlands national park in winter
Deer experiencing snow in Moab!

Camping in Moab in winter

As long as you’re prepared for the low temperatures and don’t mind the cold, camping in Moab in winter is a great option.

While Moab is much more budget friendly in the winter, camping will always be the best budget option.

Camping in Arches in winter

The Devil’s Garden Campground is open year-round and it also doesn’t require reservations in the winter!

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.

There are only 25 sites so get there early in the day if you really want to stay there.

Camping in Canyonlands in winter

The Willow Flats Campground at Island in the Sky is open in the winter and the 12 sites are first-come, first-served.

There are only 12 sites here and there is no water at the campground so be sure to bring enough with you.

There really are no facilities here so come prepared with food, water, firewood, and anything else you’ll need.

Camping at Dead Horse Point in winter

As far as I can tell, the Dead Horse Point Campground is open all year. There are 21 sites at the Kayenta Campground.

The RV campsites do close in the winter. Because of the location, the snow doesn’t melt. It reopens in mid-February.

Reservations are always required and can be made here. They do have bathrooms and water available (not to fill RVs) but no other facilities. I’d just come prepared with anything you may need.

Other Moab winter camping

There are so many places to camp around Moab any time of year, even in the winter.

Some of the BLM campgrounds do close for the winter but a few are still open. Dispersed camping on public land is only allowed 20 miles outside of Moab.

As far as I can tell, all of these campgrounds are open year-round. I looked up all of them and they didn’t specify being closed in the winter.

I’m making a guess that campgrounds that are closed are in the La Sals and they’re closed due to snow, but I’m not 100% sure. There isn’t much out there about BLM camping in Moab in the winter, unfortunately.

Wherever you end up camping (let me know how it was in the comments!) I’d go prepared with all food, water, and supplies you’ll need and be sure to be prepared for low temperatures!

Cloouds in the canyoon at Island in the Sky canyonlands national park
Some cool clouds in Canyonlands in winter. It snowed a bit this day too.

What to bring camping in Moab in winter

Kammok hammock – I have a Roo single that I love. It’s the color of mac and cheese and pretty light weight. I don’t think as light as Eno if that matters though. But it’s perfect for just regular camping.

RTIC cooler – We have one of those giant coffin sized Yetis, which is great, but this 20 can soft RTIC cooler is a lot more convenient for small trips with easy access to a fridge and ice.

REI Passage 2 Tent – Our tent isn’t available anymore but this one is similar.  We’ve used it quite a few times and it’s been great.  It’s good for two people, but can be a little cramped if you move around too much.

NEMO Viola sleeping bag – Mine isn’t available anymore but this one is similar.  It’s very good in cold weather, not freezing, but in the 40s with leggings on, I was totally fine.  It has zipper vent things on the top that are supposed to help it cool down when it’s hot.  I don’t know if it really did that.  When we camped in south Florida, I was still pretty warm with them open and it was probably in the 60s. 

LuminAID lantern – I love this lantern.  It’s great for getting around your campsite in the dark, lighting up campground bathrooms at night, and even during power outages at home.  You can plug it in to charge it or just let the sun do the work. 

REI Ruckpack 18 – This is the daypack I have and it’s awesome.  It’s lightweight, has water bottle pockets that my 40-ounce Hydro Flask fits in, and it comes in nice colors. 

REI Camp Wrap – This is totally unnecessary, but I love it.  It’s basically a blanket poncho and it doubles as a good blanket for sleeping in warmer weather.  I used it two nights in south Florida and it was perfect for when my sleeping bag was too hot.

Puffy quilt – If you’re a really warm sleeper and visiting in the summer, a puffy quilt might be a better option.  I prefer this for hotter nights.  Check out the Rumpl camp quilts here.

Pillow – If you’re just driving, I’d just bring a regular pillow, but if you’re flying then renting a car, you might want a smaller pillow.  This is a good non-inflatible option.  Here is a good inflatable option.

Camp chairs – If you plan on doing a lot of camping outside of this trip, and backpacking especially, the REI Flexlite chairs are great choices.  Check out the camp chairs here.

Dramamine – this is a must if you get carsick.

smiley face in ice in a pothole on the sandstone on the White rim overlook trail Canyonlands Utah
An ice smiley in Canyoonlands.

Things to do in Moab in winter

Moab is a year-round destination so you can still visit Arches and Canyonlands in winter. So instead of telling you all the things you can normally do in Moab, I’m going to share winter events in Moab!

While for most of this I’m including December, January, and February as winter in Moab, I did include events for November as well.

These event dates are for 2023 and may vary slightly each year. I’ll try to keep this updated each year but I’m not sure when these dates are announced. But I’ll do my best.

Not all of these would be things to do with just one or two days in Moab, a lot are runs and marathons and things like that but there are some fun ways to experience different things in Moab.

If you want a fun thing to do in Moab in winter that you can’t do in other seasons, you can go cross country skiing and snowshoeing in the La Sal mountains!

Snow on the side of the Murphy Point trail in canyonlands utah
Snow on the Murphy Point Trail

Things to do in Moab in November

If you’re planning on visiting Moab in November, you have quite a few options on seasonal activities.

Things to do in Moab in December

If you’re planning on visiting Moab in December, expect to find more Christmas and holiday specific events.

  • December 1: Holiday tree lighting
  • December 1-2: Holiday craft fair
  • December 2: Electric Light Parade (6-9 PM on Main St.)

Things to do in Moab in January

If you’re planning on visiting Moab in January, don’t expect much when it comes to seasonal events. And by that I mean there are no special events in Moab in January at this time.

Things to do in Moab in February

If you’re planning on visiting Moab in February, plan on just doing regular Moab activities as, like January, there are no seasonal events planned at this time.

Snow on the ground with desert plants and an arch in the background on the Devils garden trail in arches national park
Snow in Arches National Park

Non-seasonal things to do in Moab in winter

These are a few things to do in Moab that I think you should really try and squeeze in to your schedule if you can.

But like I said before, you can do almost anything in Moab year-round (except maybe swim in the Colorado River) these are just m personal favorites for winter.

Whether you have one day in Arches or one day in Canyonlands, or just one day in Moab in general, you should be able to do quite a bit if you don’t mind a very busy day. It’ll be worth it.

People on the side of a snowy road in winter at arches national park
This makes it look worse than it was when we saw snow in Arches

Is Moab worth visiting in winter?

1000% yes! It’s less hot, less crowded, it’s way cheaper, and still just as amazing (I would say even more amazing) than in the summer. 10/10 recommend visiti ng Moab in winter.

How many days do you need in Moab in winter?

I always say as many as possible, but I would try for three if you can, more if you have the time. You can see the highlights in two days but I would recommend taking advantage of the lack of crowds, low temperatures, and lower prices.

Delicate arch with the snowy La Sal mountains in the background in arches national park

Tips for visiting Moab in winter

It’s WAY more affordable – The hotel we stayed in when we went to Moab in the winter was literally hundreds of dollars less. I did the math in one of my other posts from early 2022:

“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!”

(I just checked again for this coming January and mid-August and it was $470 vs $759. Not quite as much of a difference!)

And WAY less busy – Like, SO much less busy, it’s absolutely wild how big of a difference there is in crowds in summer vs. winter. This and weather are my main reasons for visiting Moab in winter.

Restaurants may be more limited – Some restaurants close entirely in the winter meaning you have fewer to choose from overall, but a lot stay open. Some will be closed certain days or have more limited hours. You’ll still have plenty of places to choose from though.

You don’t need a permit for Arches – In the summer you need a timed entry reservation for Arches to help with the crowds. It would fill up early and entry would be closed until people left. This isn’t something you need to worry about if you’re visiting Moab in winter.

It’s easier to get a Fiery Furnace permit – We had no problem getting out Fiery Furnace permits in mid-December. The only times you may need to plan ahead a bit more is Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Years week.

Dirt roads may be impassable – This entirely depends on weather (and can happen in the summer) but if it is snowing or has snowed (or rained) recently, dirt roads may be impassable. If you’re on one and it gets iffy, turn around, especially if you’re not experienced with driving on roads like that.

View of the La Sal mountains from the Fiery furnace overlook in  arches national park utah

Where to stay in Moab in winter

Quality Inn – This is a good budget-friendly option not far from downtown Moab. It’s not fancy and will require driving to downtown but it’s still a good choice. We’ve stayed here.

Lazy Lizard Hostel – This is the ultimate no frills budget accommodation in Moab. The hostel is not fancy in any way and it’s on the edge of the town meaning you’ll have to drive downtown, but it’s fun. We’ve stayed here more than once.

Sleep Inn – This is a great option a short walk from downtown Moab. We stayed here on our winter Moab trip and I think we had a little kitchenette area. I’d stay again.

Hoodoo Moab – If you want something new and fancy right in downtown Moab with a restaurant on site, this is the one for you. They also have an outdoor pool.

The Gonzo Inn – This is a budget-ish option near downtown Moab. It’s basic but it is pet-friendly! It’s not fancy but is in a good location.

Looking back at three stone towers on the Tower arch trail in arches national park utah

What to bring to Moab 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 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.

Patagonia Synchilla – I think of my Patagonia sweatshirts, the Synchilla is the warmest. I have two of these and really like them.

View from devils garden trail with snow on the ground in arches national park

Final thoughts on winter in Moab

If you haven’t picked up on it by now, you may need to reread this whole post, but visiting Moab in winter is so amazing and entirely worth doing.

It’s not as busy, it’s not as hot, and it’s not as expensive which means it’s overall going to be much more pleasant than visiting in the summer (but it’s still worth visiting in the summer, especially if it’s the only time you can go).

Other posts you may like

Winter In Zion

Arches Vs Canyonlands

Visit Canyonlands National Park In Winter

Canyonlands In A Day

Tips for Visiting Arches National Park In Winter

One Day In Arches National Park

Have you been to Moab in the winter? What month did you go? What did you think of it?

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