The Best Winter Hikes in Utah
Best known for its incredible national parks, towering mountains, and vast desert terrain, Utah is a must for your next hiking adventure. Locals and travelers alike argue that winter hikes in Utah are some of the United States’ most beautiful. It clocks in at third in the nation to have the most national parks and boasts an immeasurable amount of trails. You certainly won’t want to miss your opportunity to check out these eight trails, and they might just give you another perspective of winter.
Delicate Arch, Arches National Park
Suitable for a year-round hike, Delicate Arch is most stunning in the winter. With a roundtrip distance of 3.2 miles, you can enjoy the beauty around you without getting extremely overheated or dehydrated. Holding itself as one of Utah’s most famous icons, Delicate Arch is also one the most popular arch formations in the country.Towering at 65 feet, it may not sound that tall, but its significance has been said to be better viewed in person. In terms of its name, “Delicate”, the arch is apparently the most delicately and naturally carved arch in the whole park. Make sure to be cautious though, as ice may be present in the winter season. But don’t let that stop you from visiting this one-of-a-kind national treasure.
Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park
It is no wonder why Bryce Canyon is a mecca for photographers as well as adventurers. Best started in early morning, this scenic route is one of a kind. Said to take on average two to three hours, the 2.9-mile hike is on the beginner level, offering its trails to any skill level. For the best views, start at Sunset Point (you can park here) and finish at Sunset Point on the Navajo Loop. This way you’ll avoid the crowd, as the trail has been known to be quite a hotspot. The park’s entry fee is $30 per car though, so make sure to carpool to save a little extra cash. Due to its frequent drops and canyons on the side of the trail, it’s important to assess the risk involved in visiting during the winter. As long as you stick to the trail and be smart, you will be safe.
Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park
Also topping the list as one of the most thrilling yet dangerous winter hikes in Utah, Angel’s Landing is one for the books. Although this park is mostly visited in the summer, its winter views are those you wouldn’t want to miss. With a longer distance of 5.4 miles and 1,500 feet high, some cardio experience is suggested. Because some of the spots on the trail have steep drop-offs, there are chains in place as “guardrails” to help ensure your safety. At some points, the path gets as narrow as a foot wide, so this one certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. Looking down might give you just the right burst of adrenaline to help you get all the way to the top. If you’re looking to experience jaw-dropping views mixed in with a bit of risk, this one’s for you.
Tip: Some visitors have said that they’ve found that hiking poles have significantly helped them on the steep incline.
Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Island in the Sky District
Also famous for its stunning sunrise views, this pothole arch sits right on top of a 500-foot cliff. With the park being open year round, the winter is arguably the best time to take a hike. This time of year, the La Sal Mountains in all their icy glory can be seen from the “Island in the Sky.” The park’s entrance fee is $25 a vehicle, but completely worth it.
Chesler Park Loop/Joint Trail, Canyonlands National Park, Needles District
If you were to visit this park and cross your eyes, you would think that your eyes were seeing some form of hand-carved statues. Well, carved by the elements at least. Its landscape also looks almost identical to a Star Wars movie set. Its beauty might be tempting, but beware, as it is a strenuous hike in terms of its 11-mile stretch. As Live and Let Hike stated, “The route is well maintained, but the considerable length and numerous ups and downs make Chesler Park a strenuous day hike—or, better yet, a multi-day adventure.”
Observation Point, Zion National Park
Observation Point in Zion National Park takes “jaw-dropping” to a whole new level. At about eight miles roundtrip, this hike will also keep you on your feet (quite literally). When all said and done, once you are surrounded by the awe of the rim, exploring it will be a breeze. When the snow falls in the region, it presents itself a whole new challenge, but you’ll be rewarded by views of red rock covered in snow.
Once you visit the barren Mount Timpanogos, you’ll only want to keep coming back for more. At a whopping 7,000 feet tall, the mountain is certainly one of the most popular in the state. With narrow trails and paths, it’s important to take the mountain seriously and take all necessary precautions, as one mistake could have serious consequences. Due to its altitude and snowy conditions, hiking it in the winter requires expert mountaineering skills. It is also recommended to use hiking poles for the sake of grip in the snow.
Donut Falls, Big Cottonwood Canyon
Ending the list on a sweet note (literally), Donut Falls gets its name from its donut-shaped waterfalls. Spectacular all year round—yet most in winter when it freezes—the falls are truly a must-see. A relatively easy hike at 3.5 miles, it’s perfect for the family. More often visited in the summer, winter makes a perfect alternative as the trails won’t be as packed. Make sure to bring your camera, as you’ll want a picture to remember this one!
Winter hikes in Utah are worth working for and have a level of reward that are hard to find elsewhere in the nation. Although these just scratch the surface of options, consider these top eight breathtaking Utah trails for your next winter excursion.
Micah Trostle is an 18-year- old photographer, videographer, and travel writer for trekbible. Although he was born in the USA, his home is Papua New Guinea, where he enjoys adventure sports, camping, and loving on people.