There’s really no “wrong” time to explore Utah’s iconic Southwest national parks, but winter holds a special magic. Mild, comfortable weather, fewer crowds and traffic, and crisp white snow capping the red rocks all make for an unforgettable experience!
This is especially true in Arches National Park in winter, home to over 2,000 natural stone arches. That’s the highest concentration in the world! Snow-dusted arches, no required entry reservations, and easy accessibility all year are just some of the reasons to visit Arches in the winter.
Winter Weather in Arches National Park
One of the best things about visiting Arches National Park in winter is the pleasant weather. Average daytime highs range from the low 40s to low 50s — chilly, but excellent for hiking.
Since Arches is in a high desert landscape at an elevation of about 5,650 feet, it’s quite dry, much like Arizona and Colorado. So even on particularly cold days, you’ll be quite comfortable in a winter jacket and some layers. Keep in mind that it does get extremely cold overnight, often dipping into the teens or single digits.
Arches National Park gets some snow in the winter, but it’s typically a small amount that doesn’t disrupt travel or activities. It sure makes the scenery extra picturesque, though! In the rare event of heavy snow, sections of roads may close temporarily for plowing.
Things To Do in Arches National Park in Winter
Overall, the park is widely open and accessible year-round, allowing visitors to experience all it has to offer without crowds or extreme heat.
Winter is the best time of year to hike in Arches when it’s cool and the trails are significantly less crowded. Plus, the park has several fairly short trails rated easy to moderate, so it’s easy to complete more than one hike, even in a short visit. Keep in mind that even with little or no visible snow, ice may be present on trails. Consider packing trekking poles or crampons!
Here are some of the best hikes in Arches National Park in the winter.
Balanced Rock Viewpoint - 0.3-mile loop; easy; partially paved for stroller and wheelchair access
Broken Arch Trail - 1.2 miles roundtrip; easy
Delicate Arch Trail - 3 miles roundtrip; strenuous
Note: there’s also Delicate Arch Viewpoint Trail, which features two viewpoints from a distance, Upper and Lower. Lower Viewpoint is 200 feet roundtrip and wheelchair-accessible, while Upper is half a mile.
Double Arch Trail - 0.6 miles roundtrip; easy
The Windows Viewpoint and Trail (includes North Window, South Window, and Turret Arch) - 1 mile roundtrip; easy; first 300 feet paved for stroller and wheelchair access
Arches Scenic Drive
The park’s 19-mile (one-way) scenic drive takes visitors right by some of the most iconic arches and other rock formations. Plan for about two hours if you do the entire drive, which factors in a few short stops. If you plan to get out and do any walking or hiking, allow up to four hours.
Arches is an International Dark Sky Park and the long, dark days of winter make this a fantastic time to stargaze. The park recommends Panorama Point, the Balanced Rock picnic area, and The Windows area as some of the best stargazing spots.
For families: Junior Ranger program
The NPS Junior Ranger program is totally free and an excellent resource for families. Children can get their free booklet from the visitor center, then earn an official Junior Ranger badge by completing activities throughout the park.
Where To Camp in Arches in the Winter
Devils Garden Campground is the only one in Arches National Park. While it’s open year-round, only 25 of its 51 sites are available in the winter (between November and February), and they are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The campground has restrooms, drinking water, picnic tables, and grills.
If Devils Garden is full or you prefer a reservable campground, there are dozens in nearby Moab. Here are some of the best:
Finally, boondocking is a great option for camping near Arches National Park in winter. The area is surrounded by BLM land and national forests, and in the busy season, these sites are full every day by mid-morning. Take advantage of the lack of crowds and enjoy some of the most scenic boondocking campsites in Utah in the winter!
Cruise Into Arches National Park in Winter
Exploring Arches in an RV during the winter is one of the best ways to experience this unique park — especially because Devils Campground is widely considered one of the nicest in the entire NPS system!
Plan your dates, pick up a Cruise America RV rental from one of 120 North America locations, and experience the magic of Arches in winter for yourself!