Why is winter the best time to hike to Delicate Arch? Two words – no crowds. In summer, the parking lot is usually packed before 7am. In winter, you can roll in after 9am and still find a place. If you want solitude in Arches National Park plan your trip in January or February.
I’ve hiked to Delicate Arch multiple times, but this was my first time to hike it in winter. Honestly, it was my favorite because you don’t have droves of people on the trail. In some spots, you have the trail to yourself in January. I did this hike with one of my best friend’s 18-year-old son, a friend who recently moved to Moab, and her boyfriend.
@jenniferbroometv Want #nocrowds at #DelicateArch in #archesnationalpark – go in winter! #moabutah #winterhike #nationalparktips #findyourpark #hiking #moab #hike #arches #winterinutah #utahadventure ♬ Planet Earth – Peder B. Helland
We got to the trailhead about 8:40am and there was plenty of parking. With temperatures in the upper-20s when we started it was cold, but we warmed up quickly once moving. After a short flat, the trail quickly climbs up the slick rock. The view of snow on the desert landscape in the distance is spectacular.
The trail dips down into a small canyon and Carson got ahead of me. Jenn and Adam were behind me, so I had much of this stretch and wide-open slick rock that kind of looks like a landscape from another planet to myself.
As I rounded the corner to start the climb up the narrow trail on the backside I encountered the only icy part of the trail. This section doesn’t get sun in winter and is definitely sketchy. It’s a good idea to take some spikes or at least trekking poles with you for this small section.
After cautiously crossing, I hit the last stretch and met Carson at Delicate Arch for his first time to the iconic arch. In summer there are normally crowds, but in January we maybe had 15 other people during the 30 minutes or so our group of four was up there. You have no problem getting a picture of just you under the arch or a pic without anyone in it. Plus, the snow on the red rock and mountains in distance makes the view extraordinary.
On the way back, when we hit the icy section, I opted to take it low and slid on my behind or crab walked the steepest and iciest stretch.
Before heading to the car, we made the detour to see the petroglyphs or rock art. There were a few more cars arriving when we got back to parking lot, but still plenty of room for parking around 10:45am.
If Delicate Arch is high on your hiking list, think about heading to Moab in winter so you don’t have to fight the crowds. Only drawback in January is some of the food options like Moab Garage, Love Muffin, and The Spoke close for a few weeks. For a great place to stay with bungalows and townhomes, book at Moab Springs Ranch.
Check out the Explore Utah section for more of Jennifer’s outdoor adventures in the Bee Hive State. For more on the hike to Delicate Arch and what it’s like in late April check out blog A Delicate Hike.