Winter is one of the best times of year to visit Arches National Park in southeastern Utah. The natural wonders of Arches are beautiful year-round, not to mention temperatures are often mild and dry and the crowds are light. Add Arches Park to your list of winter vacation spots if you're planning an off-season family trip.
Inside the Park
There are more places to visit than you may even have time to see. No matter what, stop at Delicate Arch, one of the most popular attractions in Arches National Park. This arch is one of the most recognizable symbols of Utah and can be found on the state's license plates, as well as countless brochures, post cards and souvenirs. Yet, no matter how many pictures you have seen of Delicate Arch, nothing compares with seeing it in person after. Snow or no snow, the scene, and hike to get there, is magical from start to finish.
The hike to Delicate Arch isn't long— just 3 miles, round trip—but during the summer it can be brutal as hikers often endure triple-digit temperatures while hiking uphill across sun-soaked red sandstone. In January and February, the daytime temperature is often a dry and sunny 40 or 50 degrees. Most of the hike is fully exposed to the sun, so with a jacket, the hiking weather is pleasant. The crowds, or lack of, are another nice perk, as well.
When you arrive at Delicate Arch, your chances of having it all to yourself are greater in the winter. On a holiday weekend, you may not be alone at the arch, but you can still enjoy the view and take photos without feeling crowded.
Despite the lack of crowds and ideal winter temperatures, there are a few things to keep in mind visiting Arches National Park in the off-season.
- You may encounter ice, snow and mud in shady areas of the park.
- Darkness falls early in the winter, which may limit the time you spend hiking and sightseeing.
- Ranger programs and other peak season amenities may not be available.
- Inclement winter weather, like snow and hail, may be difficult to battle.
Winter Camping in Arches
In the Park: The Devil's Garden Campground inside, Arches National Park, is the perfect winter vacation spot. A large portion of the campground is open most of the year, with 24 sites are available on a self-serve basis between November 1 and February 28. There's one group site that's available and may be reserved year-round, as well.
Nearby: Just under 30 minutes outside the park is Dead Horse Point State Park, which is also open year-round for camping. Another winter vacation spot in itself, this state park provides even more hiking and exploring for active families.