Utah is beautahful- see what I did there? Seriously, though, as someone who lives in the desert, I have a bit of a soft spot for canyons and Utah takes the cake every time. There’s something inviting about red rocks against the white snow.
I’ve only ever seen those views in Sedona, but at the very last minute, I woke up to a pleasant winter surprise this New Years. I’ve been to Zion NP and Bryce NP in the summer and have been dying to get to Canyonlands and Arches. Summer months can be quite busy for these parks, so I usually recommend you visit them in the offseason. If you can wait it out, though, exploring the desert in the heart of winter will not disappoint. Here are 8 images that’ll convince you to visit Utah in the winter.
Forrest Gump Viewpoint
Life is like a box of chocolates, amirite? In all honesty, though, I love me some Gump and I was fan-girling super hard when we stopped at this viewpoint that got its name from the Forrest Gump movie. You usually wouldn’t find me shooting in the middle of the day because I’m more of a sunset kind of gal, but that winter cloud coverage made this view that much dreamier. Worth 100 boxes of chocolates if you ask me.
Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park is made up of 3 districts: Maze, Needles and Island in the Sky. Each district is known for something different and for good reason. In short, Maze is for experienced route finders, Needles is for hiking and Island in the Sky has some epic viewpoints. I love hiking as much as the next Mountain Chick, but I am so glad we spent a majority of our time in Island in the Sky. Every snow-covered view left me in awe. I could have stared at them all day. All I wanted to do was be in the bottom of this massive canyon and make snow angels. Who wouldn’t with this kind of view?
Or maybe this view? That’s little me and @Hello_Mallory in case you couldn’t tell.
I’ve heard some great things about Mesa Arch for sunrise, but that didn’t happen on this trip. However, that blanket of snow seemed to never disappoint.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park is so close to Canyonlands. You have no excuse for skipping one over the other in my opinion. Arches is full of…well, arches. I’m a sucker for framing making this the perfect park for me. Have you ever seen a snow globe in real life? ME NEITHER, until I came here of course. I felt like a part of me was peaking into someone’s winter wonderland dream. No complaints here.
Spots like Delicate Arch are no secret. Thousands of tourists come here during the summer because it’s one of those “must see” spots in the park. I think that if you just have a day here, then you should at least try to go to this arch. As you’ve seen from the rest of this blog, this spot is even better with some snow! I will say, though, that you need to be cautious on this trail. At some points, it does line a cliff side, which is totally fine in the summer, but in the winter the trail is covered in ice. I can’t tell you how many hikers I saw take a fall on their bottoms. Some tourists went as far as wearing shoes with no traction. Please, please please, if you chose to hike to Delicate Arch in the winter, do yourself a favor and wear hiking boots with some grip. Bring microspikes if you have them.
Winter in the desert didn’t disappoint. Scott and I woke up at 1am on Saturday, drove about 9hrs, met some new friends, hiked and had the best sleep in our hotel room afterward. The lack of sleep and mental exhaustion I felt from this road trip was worth it. Winter hasn’t always been my favorite season, but with adventures like this, it’ll probably come close.
Happy New Year and happy exploring! Thank you @ScottyReichard for making some of these shots possible and thank you to @Hello_Mallory for giving us the insider scoop on the parks! Make sure you join your local Mountain Chicks Chapter and sign up for our newsletter below!
Dani is the Founder of Mountain Chicks and the primary author of the Mtn Chicks Blog. Here you'll find outdoor tips, travel experiences, gear reviews and more.