Winter Hiking Gear
Carrying winter-appropriate gear and clothing with you on your hike is the most important aspect of enjoying your hike. Without warm attire and gear that helps keep you warm your quiet, scenic hike may turn into a swampy sufferfest. So, before you hit the trail be sure you’re prepared with these items:
- Waterproof Boots: Know the conditions of the trail you're planning to hike before choosing your footwear. It’s likely that your summer hiking shoes won’t keep you warm enough, but you may not need a heavy, insulated boot either. An all-season waterproof hiking boot is generally enough to keep you warm and toasty on most moderate winter trails.
- Layers: Layers, not one heavy winter coat, are the key to keeping warm when recreating in the cold. You may be surprised by how warm you get once you’re climbing a steep, snowy trail. This guide from REI can help you select the right layers for the conditions you’ll be hiking in.
- Sun Protection: Sunscreen, hats and sunglasses are great items to bring on any hike, but they’re even more important with snow on the ground. Although it’s cold, and the sun may be behind clouds more often, the blanket of snow beneath your feet acts as a reflector for sun rays.
- Water & Food: Like any hike, be sure to pack more than enough water and food to keep you energized. Insulated water bottles are a great way to keep your water cold without freezing, and they’re also an excellent way to bring a warm, celebratory drink with you. Be advised sometimes your water reservoir’s hydration tube can freeze. Remember that hiking is generally more strenuous in the winter months, so those energy snacks or a light lunch are even more important to have with you.
Gravity and Water: Mark Making in a Winter’s Desert with Anne Kaferle
Finding Helper at a time when she “needed it the most,” landscape artist Anne Kaferle has put down roots in Utah, thanks to plein-air painting and the healing power of time alone in the landscape.
"You might think the cold is unavoidable and the terrain impassable, but if you can surpass these doubts you might just be rewarded with your best hike of the year."
Utah's Best Winter Hiking Trails
Unless at high altitudes or far away from access, most of Utah’s popular hiking trails are still accessible during the winter months. Only now they’re less trafficked, the views are a bit more vivid, and the snow lends a wonderful sense of quiet to the trail. You could argue that many trails are more enjoyable in the winter, but these hikes are known as bucket-list winter destinations.
1. The Narrows, Zion National Park
One of Zion National Park’s most popular excursions, The Narrows, is an out and back day hike in water with mystifying sheets of ice that hang over the canyon’s red rock cliffs. The canyon still has water obstacles, so you’ll need to dress warm with waders and river shoes, including drysuits. Pick up gear and advice from local outfitters in Springdale.
2. Rim Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park
This Rim Trail is an easy route that connects two of Bryce Canyon’s most popular overviews, Fairyland Point and Bryce Point which overlook snow-capped hoodoos in the famed Bryce Amphitheater. If photo opportunities and scenic overlooks are a must for you, then add this trail to your to-do list.
3. Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
A lesser known trail in the Arches region, Corona Arch Trail is a moderate out and back trail that visits a 140-foot wide natural arch. This is a great hike for the entire family, including pets. Be sure to wear footwear with plenty of traction though, the slickrock can get icy.
4. Pine Hollow Trail, American Fork
North of the snowy red rock terrain, the Pine Hollow Trail is a 4.3 mile loop that winds through a high alpine wonderland. Picture dense sections of tall aspen trees standing quietly over a snowy forest floor. Best of all, this hike is less than an hour from Salt Lake City which makes it a great afternoon option.
5. Silver Lake Loop, Salt Lake City
Silver Lake is one of the most popular destinations along the Wasatch. The trailhead lies in the mountain town of Brighton at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon. Expect a short, relatively mild loop that walks the border of Silver Lake and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. (Read: "Winter Hikes Near Salt Lake City")
More Hiking Trails
Arches National Park Hikes
Arches National Park is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Southern Utah. Start planning your hiking trip with these trails!
Bryce Canyon Hikes
Hiking through Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the best ways to see the park’s famous hoodoos, spires and sandstone fins.
Canyonlands National Park Hikes
Not sure which trails to hike on your next Canyonlands trip? Here are the 6 best hikes in the park, as well as some very close by!
Capitol Reef Hikes
Discover the best family-friendly hiking trails, slot canyons, canyoneering routes and backpacking expeditions in Capitol Reef National Park.
High Uintas Hiking
Desire peace and quiet? Find it on the best hiking trails in Utah. The High Uintas backcountry is recommended by backpackers, anglers and equestrians.
Hikes Near Salt Lake City
Lush and beautiful mountains and canyons (which include four world-class ski resorts for winter visitors) sit on the borders of Salt Lake City and offer hiking opportunities within minutes of its hustle and bustle
Everybody knows that the famous national parks near Moab, Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, offer excellent hiking opportunities. But Moab also offers lots of excellent trails with the same spectacular scenery — without the crowds or entrance fees.
Signature Hikes in Southern Utah
Start planning your vacation with these hiking trails surrounding The Mighty 5® national parks in Southern Utah.
Zion National Park Hikes
Visiting Zion National Park? Here are the best hikes in Zion for all hikers, from family-friendly trails to multi-day backpacking trips.
Tips From Local Hikers
- Start Early: Daylight hours are much shorter during Utah’s winters, and the desert gets cold quickly at night. The sun can go down as early as 5 p.m., so set your alarm a bit earlier and you’ll be rewarded with a brisk start to your hike and plenty of sunshine while you’re out and about.
- Bring Your Camera: Winter trails are often much less crowded, which means you may have the opportunity to grab that perfect picture of landmarks like Delicate Arch without the crowds. Plus, on the higher alpine trails you may have a better chance of seeing large wildlife.
- Hike Slowly and Find Traction: Certain trails can get very icy, especially in the red rock regions of Southern Utah. Some areas recommend packing crampons or microspikes. Otherwise, just make sure your footwear has plenty of tread and you take time to plant each step.
Farther Away From It All
Searching for solitude? Follow this six-day itinerary to find unspoiled wild places, hidden trails, open spaces and perfect peace.
- Red Cliffs National Conservation Area
- Under-the-Rim Bryce Canyon
- Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
- The Needles District Canyonlands
The Mighty 5: Ultimate Journey
Grab a national parks annual pass for best access to The Mighty 5®.
- Arches National Park
- Zion National Park
- Canyonlands National Park
- Bryce Canyon National Park
- Capitol Reef National Park
Ski Southern Utah: High Alpine Trails + Red Rock Wonder
Southern Utah is home to two high-elevation ski areas that contain generous helpings of what we call (with authority) The Greatest Snow on Earth®. Things can be a little quieter down here this time of year. Give yourself at least five days to combine the thrills of Southern Utah skiing and boarding with exploring the wintertime wonders to be found in Utah’s red rock country.
- Brian Head Resort
- Eagle Point Resort
- Cedar Breaks National Monument
- Southern Utah Ski Vacation
- Winter Hiking in Southern Utah
More Winter Activities
Backcountry Skiing & Snowboarding
Thousands of people each day enjoy Utah's famous backcountry — the areas outside of ski area boundaries.
Cross Country Skiing
Cross-country skiing Utah is awesome! Find popular Nordic trailheads in the north, high altitude serenity in central Utah and miles of regularly groomed trails in the south.
Fat Tire Biking
Fat tire biking has become the latest rage among cycling enthusiasts and newbies. Find out tips for riding and the best places to explore in Utah.
Utah’s award-winning waters hold some of the best ice fishing in the country, and with so many large lakes and reservoirs, it’s easy to grab your gear and join in.
Find the best ice skating rinks in Utah and plan the perfect skate night with your friends and family. Lace up and get skating!
Skiing In Utah
Aside from having The Greatest Snow on Earth, what sets Utah apart from other skiing locations is the easy access. Of Utah's 15 resorts, 10 are within an hour of the Salt Lake City International Airport.
Snow Tubing & Sledding
The classic, winter tradition of finding the perfect hill from which to launch a tube or sled is alive and well in Utah. Whether you’re looking for commercial parks with structured lanes or a local hill and your own thermos of hot cocoa, we’ve got it all.
To put it simply, the riding in Utah is epic. Thirteen snowboarding resorts are positioned perfectly for dumps of fluffy powder all winter long.
Snowmobile vacations are popular outdoor adventures. Utah’s 800+ miles of groomed trails offer winter snowmobiling fun for all — find out more!
Experience snowshoeing the greatest snow on Earth.