Late season storms brought a dusting of snow to the desert, showing us a side to Arches National Park that we don’t typically see

winter desert destinations arches national park
Driving through Arches National Park on a cold winter morning.Brenda Bergreen

Would you rather be too hot or too cold? Don’t answer that. What we all really want is perfect temperatures, but if this year has taught us anything, it’s that there is a lot we can’t control. Weather has always been one of them. Arches National Park in winter is typically sunny, cool and perfect for a trail run through the park. That was our original plan. What we encountered was clouds, wind and snow. Not only did that mean we wouldn’t get to trail run across the park, but our sunrise photos would be missing one thing: the sunrise.

arches national park winter snow southeast utah
In the winter, instead of studying traffic tips, you can focus on seeing the unique rock formations that Arches is known for.Brenda Bergreen

Snow falls but doesn’t often stay around in this area of Southeast Utah; therefore, rather than be disappointed at the change of plans, it seemed like a good opportunity to photograph the park. Advantages to Arches in winter include a brilliant contrast of snow to red rock and having such views all to yourself. 

Getting into Arches in summer and fall can mean a long line of cars. Winter vehicle traffic is somewhere in the ballpark of 250 cars per day versus 2,500 in the peak summer months. To give you an idea of what that means, the parking lot capacity of Arches is exceeded most days in March through October. These warnings can be seen in a graph on Arches website along with traffic tips. In the winter, instead of studying traffic tips, you can focus on seeing the unique rock formations that Arches is known for. 

arches national park hiking winter
Have the trail all to yourself and avoid the typical summer crowds that Arches National Park draws by visiting in the off-season.Brenda Bergreen

BRENDA BERGREEN is a storyteller and photographer living in Evergreen, Colorado, with her family. She loves the search for hidden gems and is willing to brave cold weather to have epic landscapes all to herself.