5 Reasons to Head to Moab in Winter

A natural arch, near Moab, in winter.

Why stay bundled up inside all winter when some of our favorite trails are strikingly beautiful in the winter? Take Moab for instance. We love Moab for its rich red sandstone arches, deep canyons, and the LaSal mountains providing the ideal backdrop. Now imagine that red rock draped in pockets of snow creating a stunning contrasting landscape. Yes you can explore Moab, Arches National Park, and Canyonlands in the winter months. They are the perfect winter hiking destinations. Not only are the temperatures relatively mild, but fewer folks know about this secret little winter hiking hot spot. So if you think Moab in winter is boarded up and off-limits, think again! From fewer tourists to snow on the desert landscape, here are five ways to enjoy Moab and its surrounding national parks in the winter.

1. Mild weather during the day

No boob sweat this trip! While July averages a whopping 100 degrees, winter temperatures are much more manageable. December highs average 45°F, February is a pleasant 52°F, and March is downright balmy 64°F! Why hike and heavily sweat only in higher temperatures? It only makes your hiney-chaffing a thousand times worse. You can hike in any condition, in any weather. It’s all about having the right gear and the right clothes. Layering is key: base layer, mid layer, and outer layer—and no cotton! Add a few necessary accessories and you’ve got everything you need to enjoy the stunning beauty of a hike through Utah’s national parks in winter.

2. Fewer tourists

Although summer can sometimes bring long waits and heavy traffic, winter in Moab brings a sense of calm to the chaos. Saunter your way right into popular eateries like the Love Muffin Café or The Moab Brewery. Pop into shops for a bit of leisurely shopping or easily find a table for a quick afternoon latte. The outside temperature aside, this feels truly like a vacation. A getaway. A chance to slow down and actually enjoy yourself and your time. Sure, the bustling activity of the summer months is always nice, but there’s something about enjoying Moab in the off-season that brings a much-needed and welcome sense of clarity. (Of course that crisp, cold air helps too.)

Hoodoos covered in snow near Moab in winter.

Heading out to hike Arches or Canyonlands National Parks is a breeze, too. Here too, you’ll encounter far fewer people—if any at all. Sometimes during summer, even just waiting to access trails can experience theme park-level lines (unless you’re being led by savvy guides that is, wink wink). Still, it’s nice to experience the desert the way nature and Edward Abbey intended: in solitude (or pretty darn close to it).

3. Snow on the desert landscape

Snow on sandstone rocks in the desert near Moab in winter.

Capture snowfall on the desert, and you’ll earn some serious #snowtography cred. Moab in winter is like the meeting of two worlds, and it’s an unforgettable sight to behold. The softer light of winter makes for incredible, Insta-envy photographs. According to Moab-based photographer Bret Edge, the red of the sandstone coupled with the white of the snow and blue of the clouds is “irresistible to photographers.” He has several favorite spots for winter photography in Canyonlands National Park including Candlestick Tower, Mesa Arch Green River Overlook and Grandview Point—not to mention our favorite sunrise breakfast spot, Dead Horse Point.

4. Incredible stargazing

Sandstone rocks and a starry sky near Moab in winter.

With ever-increasing light pollution, seeing the constellations dancing across the sky in their full glory seems to be something of the past. Only one in ten Americans lives in an area where they can see 2,500 stars — the amount that should be visible under normal conditions. Unfortunately most of us have to travel far from home to see the “true” night sky. That’s what makes a weekend getaway to Utah is a fantastic choice. The state boasts the nation’s highest number of International Dark Sky Parks, including three right near Moab: Arches National Park, Canyonlyands National Park, and Dead Horse Point. It’s a humbling experience to witness the vastness of the universe just by looking up. Winter in Moab gives you the peace and reflection time to do just that.

5. The hot tub (mostly) to yourself

When there’s downtime on our Moab trips in the summer, most Chicks opt for an afternoon of shopping or catching up on sleep in the air-conditioned bliss of our condo. Sure—there’s a hot tub outside just begging to soothe sore muscles, but who wants to boil themselves under the summer desert sun? Not to mention it’s usually overrun with kiddos or dudes enjoying a “hall pass weekend away.” Yikes. But the hot tub in winter? Now that’s an entirely different experience. Fewer people in general also means fewer people vying for a spot to squeeze into. This also means there’s a great chance it will be just you and your fellow Explorer Chicks out there soaking up the warm bubbles. So expect plenty of laughing, bonding and reliving your adventurous day of hiking if you opt for the hot tub. (And would enjoying a Fireball-spiked hot chocolate while doing so be out of the question? We think not.)

Who’s ready to pack some extra base layers and join us out West for a winter wonderland like no other? Join us to experience Moab in winter for our Moab + National Parks Hiking Weekend during December, February, or March!

Related Reads

How to Layer for Your Winter Hike

How to Train for Hiking and Backpacking Trips

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