01 Jan Winter Hiking Destinations: Canyonlands National Park
Winter may be here, but that certainly doesn’t mean we’re all stuck inside. Snowy weather makes for some fantastic winter hiking destinations. When one thinks of Southern Utah, they probably picture red rocks with waves of blistering heat, shimmering off in the sun. But they forget that these same red rocks are equally as cool in the winter – if not cooler – when the contrast of white snow and red rocks makes for a breathtaking experience. Nowhere is this quite as enchanting as at Canyonlands National Park.
Canyonlands National Park is located at the confluence of the Colorado River and Green River, and contains over 300,000 acres of mesas, buttes and cliffs formed by thousands of years of erosion. It may be hot during the summer, but at an elevation of over a mile, you can expect cold weather and snow throughout the winter. And since it’s the off-season in the Southwest, you’ll probably have the whole place to yourself.
A few selected hikes include The Needles, a 20-mile collection of trails that crisscrosses the Needles District, which is one of the most remote parts of the park. The Needles are cool any time of year, but when covered in snow, are a true gem. Druid Arch is a highlight on this trail. Located in the Sky district of the park is the Mesa Arch, one of the most-visited highlights in Canyonlands. It’s less than half a mile from the parking lot and easily accessible, even with snow on the ground. In the distance, the snow-capped La Sal Mountains rise over the horizon.
If you’re planning an overnight trip, you’ll need a backcountry permit. But those are plentiful this time of year. Canyonlands promises to provide isolation, peace and enchanting scenery all winter, something you’ll be hard pressed to find the rest of the year – making it of our favorite winter hiking destinations.