By Janiel Green
10 Best Winter Hiking Trails in Southern Utah
We have all felt the Winter chill, and some of us even the winter blues. Why not get outside and explore what your favorite trails are like in the winter time? Winter gear is readily available, and snowshoes are cheaper than ever. Here are a few of my favorite trails in Southern Utah. Depending on the year, it may look deceivingly like Springtime.
Corona Arch Trail in Moab
Any trails that allow dogs is on the top of my list! Corona Arch is one of those trails I have hiked several times with my Dog Zoey. There are not many trails within National Parks that do allow dogs on them, but Moab is special in that it does. The Trail is relatively easy, but when traveling with your dog, there is a ladder and a steep climb with chains. With a little guidance from me to Zoey, she was able to scramble up the mountain and find a route around the ladder with her four little legs.
The flat expanse prior to this is lined with arrows painted on the rock in the winter, and with the spring rains, they place cairns (stacked rocks) to help guide you to the Arch. There are two arches that you end up visiting: Bowtie Arch and the greater more impressive Corona Arch. Be sure to pack a picnic as this is an excellent spot in the winter to soak up the sun and chase away those summer blues. Please check the weather prior to doing this hike, if it is snowing the rock tends to be slick. Most of the trail to the first ladder is sandstone so you would just need good treads on your shoes. You can still see the arch if you choose to do the trail but will have to stop at the first ladder.
Inspiration Point in Bryce Canyon National Park
This is an easy drive over from Zion’s National Park, and well worth the drive. The different areas that are the most noteworthy are slightly hidden behind pine trees, so when entering the park (which there is a fee) be sure to ask for a map. There are brown wooden signs with white writing on the side of the road to guide you. Be sure to keep your eye out for them as they blend in well to the pine trees.
Inspiration point is one of the more popular trails and in the mild to moderate range. If you have bad knees or a bad back be sure to bring your hiking poles with you. Depending on the year it may get slick due to the trail being made mostly of sand. The weather may be different here than in other parts of southern Utah so be sure to check each National Park weather service. If you are lucky you can get a light dusting of snow on the tops of the towers in the basin and really gives it a special look with the stark white on red and the moisture bringing out every shade of color in the rock.
Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park
This is a very well-known hike, but not many attempt it in November or the deeper winter months. There are some treacherous areas should it be raining or snowing, but well work the effort and risk of going should the weather be favorable. This picture was taken in November with a rain storm blowing in, but never actually dumped any rain. The thing to know about Utah is that if there is rain on one side of the street, you can walk to the other side and have sunny weather. I would rate this trail in the moderate to hard range, with those who are afraid of heights to steer clear and opt for Observation Point instead as it is less hazardous and dizzying.
For a more serene type of outdoor bonding, I would suggest Canyonlands National Park. This is a more laid-back park, with a trail right near the visitor’s center with fantastic views. Bring your camping stove, cook up some soup and a hot drink and just enjoy and bond with those who came with you. If the weather gets bad while you are in Southern Utah, this is a great alternative to the other hikes.
Courthouse Towers and the Three Gossips
Located in Arches National Park, this hot spot for climbing is also a great hike for all. Definitely one of the Best Winter Hiking Trails there is. You can see it either from the car park with an educational sign, or you can hike to the towers themselves. If you drive 4.5 miles from the park entrance you will see the carpark. There are also several other interesting rock formations in this area such as the Tower of Babel, and Sheep Rock. Please stay on the trail as there is a fragile bacterium that grows as a crust on the ground in southern Utah that helps prevent landslides and runoff from happening.
Dead Horse Point
You have two options with this location, you can either drive or take the trail near the visitor’s center. The trail itself is mostly flat with fantastic views of the cliffs and valleys that surround you. Check out the Legend of Deadhorse Point and see why it was named as such. If you take the trail be sure to bring your camera as you will be greeted with several odd and unique rock formations along the way. The trail is mostly rock with some sand that could get a little muddy in the winter, but overall even if the weather was bad you could still manage this easily.
Double Arches in Arches National Park
An easy trail accessible all year round in full of bird watching and if you happen to go in the summer the trail is filled with wildflowers. The trail is mostly sandy so be prepared to get a bit muddy if you go in the winter (easily thwarted with some gaiters). These are quite unique as compared to other arches in this park as there are two of these massive wonders right next to each other. Be sure to check out the parade of elephants right next two the arches (rock formations that look like circus elephants on parade).
Vodoo Trail in Dixie National Forest
This is another trail that allows dogs and although it is a shorter loop it is quite fun. There are different rock formations that appear as if you have landed in the movie Labyrinth and make you want to break out in one of David Bowie’s songs. This is a moderate trail with some snowy, sandy areas but there is enough traction on the trail that it is easy to work around the trail conditions. Park next to the Dixie National Forest sign, the visitors center will be closed, but there is a sign that will have several other trails for you to explore.
Angel’s Palace Trail in Kodachrome Basin State Park
This was surprisingly one of my favorite trails, I have never seen photos of this prior to attempting this trail. The view over the valley, the palace that is strikingly white among the sea of red. I felt as though I started out on a trail and ended up in heaven. The trailhead is clearly marked with parking nearby. The trail is easy with a few hills and valleys to hike through. The hardest part about this trail is following the arrows, which are not always correct as some appear to be broken. I was able to find my way around the hills and was greeted with a fantastic view.
Fisher Towers in Moab
With sweeping views of the surrounding valley and one of the Best Winter Hiking Trails, this is a must on your list. The Titan towers over you as you approach this trail, with the trail to the optimal viewing point being 1.5 miles, and the amphitheater rock formation just beyond this. The trail is a steep downhill entrance with a moderate to hard level rating of the trail. When you approach the first fork in the trail be sure to take the trail in front of you and do not veer to the left as this leads to a dead end and a sheer drop off. There are both parking and restroom facilities available at the trailhead.
Bonus: Tunnel Arches in Arches National Park
An easy trail 0.7 miles roundtrip and good for all hiking levels. Perfect in the wintertime as this is a mostly sunny trail and made mostly of rocks. Have a fantastic time crawling around in this odd little tunnel with the perfect time to get a picture when the sun is shining through the arches. Pine Tree Arch is right near this arch as well and worth a look.
If you are experiencing the winter blues, smog, and inversions that come with the winter months. Plan a trip to Southern Utah, get some fresh air and reconnect with nature with the 10 Best Winter Hiking Trails in Southern Utah. Happy travels, happy tales, and see you on the flip side.
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