Snowy trails

A hiker peers at a snow-covered Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah. Mesa Arch is one of the easier arches to access, even during the wintertime.

Turret Arch hangs in the low clouds with snow-covered La Sal Mountains as a backdrop at the Windows Section of Arches National Park near Moab, Utah. Winter offers one of the best times to check out the arches and surrounding areas as there are fewer visitors before the spring and summer rush.

Delicate Arch is reflected in a small pond below the arch.

A very narrow, snow- and ice-covered section of trail leads to Double O Arch and the Dark Angel in the Devils Garden section of Arches National Park.

Navajo Arch in the Devils Garden section of Arches National Park.

Double O Arch in the Devil’s Garden section of Arches NP.

Balanced Rock, oftentimes a visitors’ favorite at Arches National Park, is located next to the park’s main road, about nine miles from the park entrance. Balanced rock is 128 feet in total height. The balancing rock rises 55 feet above the base.

If you’ve ever wanted to have a national park all to yourself, then take a winter hiking trip.

In Arches and Canyonlands national parks, most of the trails will be yours alone. Even the very popular Delicate Arch Trail — I once shared a spring visit to Delicate Arch with at least 200 fellow hikers — I can have all to myself during a winter hike.

I’m not anti-social, it’s just that the scene and scenery are much more peaceful in the wintertime. And the red rock contrast with the snow is a photographer’s dream.

Most of the trails are easy to hike despite a layer of snow or ice. The one exception might be the Devils Garden Trail past Landscape Arch in Arches National Park. That trail goes over a thin red rock fin and can be tricky on snowpack.

Even if you go only to the designated park overlooks, the wintertime views at these national parks are spectacular.

So put on your winter jacket, tug on your boots and enjoy the solitude before the springtime rush.

View additional photos from Christopher Tomlinson’s hikes in a photo gallery at


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