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Moab – and its surrounding parks and protected lands – is magical anytime of year, but plan a trip in winter to enjoy this enchanting destination without the crowds.
Two- and four-legged children of all ages will love bounding across the never-ending slickrock. While dogs aren’t allowed on National Park trails, you’ll find incredible dog-friendly hikes on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property. Not only can your pup explore off-leash, but you’ll likely have the stunning scenery to yourself.
When you’ve had your fill of red rock, head to the La Sal mountains for a change of pace. The La Sal Mountain Loop Scenic Byway is plowed frequently to the Geyser Pass Winter Recreation Area for access to sledding, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing.
With endless hiking options to arches, spires, and overlooks; fresh powder in the Lal Sal mountains; and stunning, snow-dusted red rock in every direction, Moab has something for everyone.
Just four miles north of Moab, Potash Road meanders 17 miles below soaring sandstone cliffs along the Colorado River. This stunning corridor is home to dinosaur tracks, ancient rock art, and world class climbing. For adventurous families, Potash Road provides access to kid- and dog-friendly trails to arches that rival those in neighboring Arches National Park. From Moab, head north on on Hwy 191, and turn left onto Potash Rd (UT-279).
Distance: 2.4 miles round trip
Starting from the Poison Spider Mesa parking lot, the trail to Longbow Arch splits for a quick detour to dinosaur tracks and petroglyphs; they’re worth checking out at the beginning or end of your hike.
After the spur, the trail climbs steeply for a short distance before leveling out. There’s a wire ladder to assist hikers on the steepest section; most dogs should be able to run up this section. Follow cairns as the trail climbs to a broad canyon, and then look for green blazes on the slickrock. After traversing slickrock and sandy washes, the trail turns right into a narrow canyon where Longbow Arch stretches 60-feet on the left wall. Scramble up the primitive trail below the arch for the best views.
Continue past the arch to reach an overlook with views over the Colorado River.
Distance: 3.0 miles round trip, including spur to Pinto Arch
Dog-friendly: Yes, but cable & ladder section too steep for some
Corona Arch is one of Moab’s most popular hikes and for good reason! The arch opening measures 140 feet across by 105 feet high, making Corona Arch one of the largest and most spectacular arches in Moab. Plus, the main trail passes Bowtie Arch, and a short spur trail leads to the lesser known Pinto Arch for three arches in three miles.
Despite its popularity, Corona Arch doesn’t see the steady stream of traffic that Delicate Arch does. To maximize solitude, hike early in the morning, late afternoon or midweek.
From the trailhead, climb a short section before turning left to cross the train tracks. This is an active railroad, so be careful with dogs and children.
Beyond the tracks, the trail is easy to follow, and wide slickrock sections are marked with cairns. Cables and a short ladder assist hikers up the steepest section of the trail. This section should be no problem for most children, but it was too steep for our 60-lb Vizsla. If you’re hiking with a larger dog, you may need to take turns on the final stretch.
Beyond the ladder, follow the wide slickrock bench around the bend. Don’t miss Bowtie Arch on your left before reaching Corona Arch. This pothole arch formed when water eroded into the cave below.
Pass under Corona Arch to appreciate the scale and splendor from all angles. On the way back to the parking lot, take the short spur trail to Pinto Arch.
Distance: 4.0 miles round trip
Merely a quarter mile down Potash Road from the Corona Arch trailhead, Jeep Arch (also known as Gold Bar Arch) is a hidden gem. There’s no official sign at the trailhead, but a gravel pullout fits about 10 cars. From the pullout, hike through the tunnel and pick up the trail on the other side of the train tracks.
The trail is well marked with cairns and green blazes on the slickrock. After gently ascending the bench for 1.2 miles, the trail becomes a loop and climbs steeply to reach another bench on either side of the arch. The trail passes beneath the arch before looping back to the intersection.
The scenery is breathtaking the entire hike, with views of Culvert Canyon, Behind the Rocks, and the snowy La Sal mountains in the distance.
Time your hike just right, and be blown away as sunset lights up the arch.
Tucked away in Kane Creek Canyon, Funnel Arch isn’t for the faint of heart. This short hike requires a tricky class 2 scramble, so leave your pups and young children behind.
A trip to Moab wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Arches National Park. Dogs aren’t allowed on park trails, so wear out your pup first and leave him behind.
Dusted with snow, the scenery in Arches is sublime in winter. Plus, you won’t encounter the crowds that pack the most accessible and popular trails in summertime. Park services are reduced in winter, so plan accordingly, and check road conditions before entering the park.
More of a stroll than a hike, the Windows Section is one of the most scenic locations in the park. An easy trail brings visitors to North Window, South Window and Turret Arch. Take the primitive path behind the windows for a different perspective.
Across the road from the Windows, take the short path to Double Arch. These two massive arches are joined at one end.
The largest free-standing arch in the park, Delicate Arch has become one of the most famous and recognizable geologic features in the world. Visit on a summer weekend, and you’re sure to encounter a full parking lot and a steady stream of visitors marching like ants up the slickrock trail.
Visit on a winter, weekday morning, and enjoy this serene sight with only a handful of admirers. Anytime of year, it’s worth the relatively easy 3-mile roundtrip hike to see firsthand why Delicate Arch is so beloved.
Called River Road by locals, the Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway (U-128) delivers jaw-dropping scenery and access to hiking, climbing, camping, and more.
Distance: 4-5 miles round trip
Winding around the base of soaring sandstone towers and climbing to 360-degree views, the Fisher Towers National Recreation Trail is a can’t-miss hike.
From Moab, enjoy 21 miles of spectacular scenery on River Road (U-128) before turning right on a well-maintained and signed dirt road to reach the Fisher Towers trailhead. Follow the marked trail as it wraps around the base of the fin-like towers made famous by climbers and Western movies.
Kids will love the ledges and ladder section. Dogs can hike above the ladder and down a slot canyon to rejoin the main trail.
Around 2.2 miles, the trail opens up for unbelievable views of the towers, river basin and Castle Valley. Continue exploring until you reach the trail end.
Moab’s winter weather can range from sunny and mild to windy and rainy to chilly and snowy, all in a single day. Pack insulating layers that you can easily pile on or peel off, depending on the conditions.
Nicole’s idea of a perfect vacation involves camping, hiking, trail running, SUP and exploring secluded beaches with her husband and two daughters. She writes about travel, raising KÜHL kids and her obsession with outdoor apparel for KÜHL.