Canyonlands National Park In Winter

Canyonlands National Park encompass a huge area with a wide variety of terrain. It is a prime spot for many different kinds of adventures and most can be enjoyed year-round.

Popular Winter Activities

  • Auto touring/sightseeing on improved roads
  • Off-road exploration on rough jeep trails
  • Biking
  • Hiking/backpacking
  • Photography
  • Wildlife watching

Whitewater rafting is a popular summer adventure but is not a a recommended activity during the cold weather months.

Average winter temperatures F°

Month High Low
November 56° 30°
December 45° 23°
January 44° 22°
February 52° 28°
March 64° 35°

Elevations within the park vary considerably from location to location. Winter temperatures will be a little colder on top of the plateaus and warmer along the river bottom. The higher plateaus pick up some snow. Snow accumulation is rare in the park's lower regions.

Most visitors explore the park by following the paved scenic drives into the Island In The Sky and Needles districts. These roads are open year-round and seldom have snowpack. They may have icy spot in shaded areas. You can drive right up to many impressive vistas. Other popular overlooks are accessible via short, easy hikes over well-marked trails.

The park's jeep trails are legendary - they attract off-road enthusiasts from around the world. They can be driven year-round, except during and immediately after heavy storms. Mechanical problems are always a possibility when you drive these trails. If you break down you may be on your own for hours or even days, depending on your location, so always carry emergency equipment and supplies.

This park offers the opportunity for long mountain bike trips, including multi-day adventures. (Permits are required if you plan to stay overnight in the park's backcountry.) Most people doing multi-day rides choose spring or fall months, when the weather is mild. Daytime temperatures are quite mild on many winter days and riding is pleasant. Nights, however, get very cold. If you plan to camp you need to bring appropriate gear.

Hiking and backpacking are popular here and can be enjoyed year-round if you watch the weather. On many winter days you can hike comfortably wearing a sweatshirt or light jacket. But you may want a heavy coat if the wind comes up or the sun goes behind clouds.

As you travel through the park, stay on the lookout for wildlife. A large number of wild birds and animals make their home in the park and they stay active through the winter. Creatures that are relatively easy to spot include, rabbits, eagles, hawks, foxes, coyotes and mule deer.

The scenery in Canyonlands varies little from season to season. The park's main attractions include wide open spaces, sheer overlooks, towering cliffs, deep canyons, arches and other interesting rock formations. These features look essentially the same from month to month. Juniper and pine trees dot the landscape, and stay green year-round. Cottonwood trees and bush in the washes turn gray/brown during winter, providing a little variety.

This national park includes many areas that are extremely remote, with difficult access. Exploring these spots carries inherent risk, no matter the season. The basic safety rules that are important during summer are doubly important during the cold months. They include:

  • on't travel alone
  • Leave an itinerary with a responsible person back home. This is important so they will know when to expect you back, and can tell authorities where to look if you don't return on schedule.
  • Carry emergency equipment and supplies
  • Get a permit if you plan to spend the night in the backcountry
  • Watch the weather. Don't venture into the backcountry if a major winter storm is in the forecast.
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