Hit the Trail with Landmark - Arches and Canyonlands

Hit the Trail with Landmark

If you haven’t made it to one of Utah’s national parks, winter is the perfect time to hit the trail! While Utah’s many national parks are spectacular year-round, visiting them during the colder months means wide-open spaces free from crowds, entrance wait times, and high temps. If you’re wondering where to start your next wintertime adventure, we recommend two of our favorites: Arches and Canyonlands.

Located across from each other just outside Moab, Arches and Canyonlands are spectacular. They’re stunning during the off-season (November through March.) There’s nothing quite like red rocks blanketed in white snow against a vast blue sky!  

We’re sharing a couple of recommendations for a Canyonlands and Arches trip you’ll love and probably want to repeat each time the temps drop for the season!

Take the Arches Scenic Drive

If you want to see the 2,000 natural arches in a day while sipping on a cup of coffee or cocoa, we recommend driving the 22-mile scenic road. You’ll want at least four hours to drive the route so you can stop and take photos of some of the more famous arches.

Along the way, you’ll see signs for walking areas that are a great way to stretch your legs and take in the views a short distance from the main road. Be sure to stop at the Park Avenue Viewpoint where there’s a parking lot right beside one of the best views in the park! During the off-season, there’s plenty of parking so you can stay a while and enjoy a bite to eat in the cool air.

Snap a Photo Under the Double Arch

During your drive, you’ll pass the famous Double Arch. It’s an easy half-mile walk from the nearby parking lot. It’s a great spot to take a photo— especially since the Double Arch looks best from the base.

You’re also permitted to climb to the opening of the arch. If you do, be sure to have a hiking buddy that can spot you.

Hike to Delicate Arch

When you think of photos of Arches National Park, you’re likely picturing Delicate Arch. It’s the most popular arch in the park and the three-mile hike to Delicate is definitely worth it. We actually prefer this hike during the winter months since there’s no shade and it can get quite hot in the summertime.

If you choose to hike to Delicate Arch versus snapping a photo from the road, you’ll want to devote a couple of hours. The hike is moderate with one steep incline, but it still takes about 45 minutes to walk each way. When there’s snow or freezing temps, we recommend using traction devices or trekking poles since the trail can be icy. (You can find park weather updates here.)

If you can end your day at Delicate Arch, do it! Sunsets at Delicate Arch are nothing short of majestic. The red rocks silhouetted against the darkening, painted sky is truly one of the most incredible sights in Utah’s landscape.

Stargaze in Canyonlands

Across from Arches National Park is beautiful Canyonlands. This Gold-Tier International Dark Sky Park has some of the best stargazing in the world. During a new moon, you can see thousands of stars from anywhere in the park.

Even though it’s chilly, we recommend going in the wintertime. It’s easy to find a private stargazing spot and the days are shorter which means more time under the stars. (So grab your favorite sweatshirt, blanket, and thermos for a night under the stars!)

Hike to the Grand View Point Overlook

Since Canyonlands is so vast, you can spend days exploring the four districts: Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the Rivers. One of our favorite areas is Grand View Point at Island in the Sky. This impressive overlook is particularly incredible at sunrise and sunset. The Grand View Point Overlook Trail is an easy two-mile out-and-back trail that can be enjoyed by all ages and skill levels.

When are you headed on your winter adventure? We hope you make it to Utah’s desert before the winter season is over. It’s sure to be a breathtaking and peaceful getaway in one of America’s most popular destinations!

Bonus Hikes

Traveling during the off-season can mean peaceful hiking trails all to yourself. But it can also mean closures if a storm rolls in or there’s seasonal trail maintenance. In case that happens, we recommend two amazing hikes just outside the park boundaries.

At 140 feet wide, Corona Arch is one of the biggest arches in southern Utah. It’s located on the outskirts of Moab and the three-mile hike on the Corona Arch Trail includes sandstone stairs, ladders, and safety cables in two steep areas. The varying terrain and 440-feet elevation gain make this a fun adventure that rivals any excursion within the national parks.

Another one of our favorite hikes is the hike from Grandstaff Canyon to Morning Glory Bridge– the sixth largest natural rock span in America. The trailhead starts at the bottom of Grandstaff Canyon near the banks of the Colorado River. You’ll pass multiple streams along the way that are often frozen and glassy during the winter months. This is an unforgettable hike that we recommend whether the national parks are closed or not!

When are you headed on your winter adventure? We hope you make it to Utah’s desert before the winter season is over. It’s sure to be a breathtaking— and peaceful— getaway in one of America’s most popular destinations.

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