Arches National Park in Snow

rches National Park in Snow Moab Utah

One of the best things about being in Utah is that you can practically throw a stick and hit a national park. There are so many outdoor activities in this beautiful state that we have found something fun to do almost every week we are here! In December we specifically decided to visit Moab, a city known for it’s gorgeous national parks featuring classic desert red rock, because temperatures would be lower.

They ended up being a lot lower.

Turns out we were in Moab, Utah, for the exact days of the freak snow storm of 2017.

We woke up on our first full day in Moab to 6″ of snow on the ground, and snowfall so continuous and strong that we could hardly see a hand in front of us. I’d been most excited to see the famous Arches National Park for the first time, but, unfortunately, it was closed for almost two days due to the weather.

Colorado River Covered in Snow Arches National Park in Snow Moab Utah


Boy holds snowball rches National Park in Snow Moab Utah


Arches National Park in Snow

After 4 attempts, we finally got into the park on our last afternoon in Moab. We checked their Twitter page for opening updates, which totally paid off! Despite the deep snow, we were still part of a larger crowd after the park had only been open for 30 minutes. They were probably like us- tourists who’d made a special trip to the area and stuck around for days waiting for a chance to see the iconic formations.

At first I didn’t understand why the park had been closed for so long. The roads had been easy to clear once the snow slowed down, and even appeared impeccably dry. Things became clear when approaching our first landmark, Window Arch. It was a gradual uphill climb with no visible path, save for the tracks left by the few people before us. We trusted those steps completely to lead us the right way. With a wrong step you’d be over a foot deep in snow, between rocks, or land on a slick patch of ice underneath the snow. After a few close encounters with a dangerous fall we collectively decided it was worth walking up to the arch single-file through the tenuous path, back-to-back with other trekkers.

Boy eats snow at rches National Park in Snow Moab Utah


At the top of the arch the snow had started to melt, but not completely, as new snow fell. This left a layer of slick ice underneath powdery snow . The obscured safe walking area plus the slick rocks plus the convergence of impatient tourists made the experience pretty scary. We weren’t comfortable staying at the arch’s viewpoint for long; being pushed out of the way so other’s could photograph a clear shot on top of slick ice wasn’t worth the risk for us.  This may be the only time I admit something wasn’t worth the risk of getting a picture. Savor it.

A less responsible person could easily slip and fall through the upper window. In fact, we’ll probably hear about one such tourist in the local news later.

While driving through the park I could safely appreciate how gorgeous it all was. With snow mounded perfectly atop each red rock formation, the scene felt intentionally designed by the Disney set crew. Is there a Cars winter special? If so, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Has Gru stolen the real Arches and left almost-real looking styrofoam slabs in their place? I honestly wouldn’t be surprised.

Delicate Arch in Snow rches National Park in Snow Moab Utah


rches National Park in Snow Moab Utah

At this point I’m not sure if I feel robbed or lucky that we found ourselves at Arches National Park in snow. It was treacherous, cold, uncomfortable (who thinks to bring snow clothes and boots to the desert?), I was unable to photograph the way I’d like, and we didn’t see the classic Arches formations. On the other hand, how often does it snow there? It was an absolutely gorgeous sight and a highly unlikely experience that we feel pretty lucky to have witnessed.

Good thing I’ve always been a half-glass-full sort of person.


Father and son at rches National Park in Snow Moab Utah

While you’re in Moab, Utah, you should also drive UTVs in the snow and take a guided hike through the red rock!

Visit Arches National Park In Snow Arches National Park Moab Utah in Winter


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  • Jolene

    What a great experience for the family. Your photos are still awesome though!

  • Lindsey

    Wow. The scenery is beautiful. Glass half full is a wonderful mindset. 🙂

  • Amanda

    The beauty of our national parks is incredible. I haven’t been to Utah, but I would love to visit. It is such a stark contrast to south Florida!

  • Brett E Miller

    Our first time at Arches was over Christmas break and there was snow on the ground, though not nearly as much as you had. I didn’t love the temperatures, but I DID love that we could see the tracks of animals we otherwise wouldn’t know were in the park.

  • Gabrielle Reese

    Wow, Utah is so gorgeous!! Utah is honestly a state that I don’t know much about. How funny is it that while you were there you experienced the big snow storm of the year! Oh well, it made for adorable pictures of you and your family!

  • Aditi | Raising World Children Magazine

    This looks like so much fun. I have been thinking of traveling to some new places in USA. Am for sure book marking your site for reference. Would love to connect.

  • Annette Dattilo

    Wow – So gorgeous. I would be fearful of the slick walks too. Love your positive outlook.

  • Leigh Suznovich

    Those rock formations are incredible, and look even more gorgeous in the snow! So cool.

  • Marie, Mamma's Cooking

    Beautiful! What a great experience for the kids! Lesson learned that some things are worth the wait!

  • Candy

    I have never been to Moab Utah but friends have and they loved being there. Beautiful park

  • Rhonda

    The scenary looks amazing. I live in the south so we rarely ever get snow. But when we do it’s a super huge deal. It’s always so stunning to see.

  • Amy

    Beautiful pictures! What a great opportunity to see the park differently, even though it wasn’t what you planned.

  • Melissa

    I love the red rocks/arches! They are so beautiful! Looks like a nice visit!

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