Best time to visit Moab

Moab and its environs are easily accessible – and amazing – year-round.

But since the weather does play a major factor for those looking to take on the outdoors adventures found here, it’s worth devoting some thought to when you want to visit. In the end, there is no “bad time” to visit Moab. The only question you really need to ask yourself is, “Will I have enough time?”

March through early May and September through October are considered high season, which means you’ll get the best (meaning perfect) weather for hiking and mountain biking. Summer stays crowded, but the 100°F-plus temperatures (38°C) keep some away. In winter, it can snow – but you are likely to have the place to yourself – though some places go into hibernation during the winter months, especially the rafting operations.

On the other extreme, try going a month earlier in the spring high season to avoid the crowds. You might just get a spring lightning storm or catch wildflowers blooming in the desert – or wake up to the desert covered in a soft blanket of snow.

Turret Arch in Moab covered in snow. Moab averages between 8 and 9 inches of snow annually © Brad McGinley Photography / Getty

High season in Moab means hiking, rafting and mountain biking galore

Moab in the spring is off the charts. The Utah desert is bloom (if it rained enough that winter), the weather is cool and the rivers rush. The only hitch: things can get a bit crowded, especially in the national parks. To avoid the crowds and get the most from your trip, consider getting up early (like 5am) or staying up late – and look forward to perfect timing for sunrise under Delicate Arch, great bird watching or a late-night look into the starry skies overhead. Both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are open 24–7.

High water on the Colorado and Green Rivers happens around May or June, which means you can expect some of the biggest white water in all the US (bigger even than the Grand Canyon). Mountain biking and hiking in spring are also excellent – but watch for surprise storms and flash floods, especially in the canyons.

The other high seasons in Moab happen in the fall. Once school gets back in session and summer vacation ends, the place empties out just a bit, though the weather is still great. The later you get into the fall season, the more solitude you will find. This is a great time to travel here with an RV or consider a hotel stay, as nighttime temperatures can get pretty chilly. Outdoor adventures are still in full swing, but you will see fewer rafters as the rivers start to slow their flow in the fall months. That said, you can still float any of the rivers during this time.

RV Boondock Camping, Hamburger Hill, near Canyonlands National Park
RV travel is great during spring and fall in Moab, when chilly nighttime temperatures make camping less convenient © Getty Images / iStockphoto

Shoulder season in February and November bring lovely days and cold nights

The weather can be a little tricky in February and early March in the spring, as well as late October and November in the fall. Expect some snow and rainstorms, some amazingly sunny days and pretty cold nights. It’s a good time for mountain biking and trail running as you will never overheat – but plan on staying in a hotel or bringing a really, really warm sleeping bag.

Bundle up (and expect great rates) during low season in December and January

December and January in Moab see much smaller crowds, cold weather and short days. You’ll also get good deals on hotels. In the American desert, you can get warm sunny days any time of the year, so it’s still doable to take on outdoor adventures. Just be wary of nighttime temperatures, which can drop drastically.

In the low season, you might just find the winter solitude is worth the cold.


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The average temperatures in Moab throughout January are between 20 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit © Matthew Connolly / Shutterstock

January

It’s downright cold in January, with daytime highs only reaching the mid-40s (though the area does get a few fair warm days). Bring your puffy jacket and expect brisk hikes and some snow.

February

Head up to the La Sal Mountains for backcountry skiing and snowshoeing in February. The San Juan Huts are not far from here, and offer the potential for hut-to-hut skiing in the winter. Expect empty trails in the national parks.

March

By March, it’s already warmed up enough to make for really good hiking and mountain biking. If you are camping, bring the extra down blanket, since it can get freezing cold at night. Trails are still pretty empty until the end of the month.

April

This is the peak of the high season. Restaurants and hotels are packed. You’ll need to book ahead to get a spot. Trails will be crowded, so try to get up extra early to beat the heat – and the gapers.

May

It’s starting to get hot…really hot. And the crowds are hitting their peak as vacationing families cruise through the national parks. Try going to the nearby public lands outside the parks to avoid the crowds.

June

High water hits the Green and Colorado Rivers, making for some of the best rafting on planet Earth. There are still plenty of crowds, but the heat keeps some people away.

POV rafting with kayak in Colorado river, Moab
Floating on the Colorado River is an essential Moab experience © piola666 / Getty Images

July

It’s hot as Hades. Plan on doing your rides and hikes really early or really late. It’s a great time to hit the water, perhaps with a guided trip down Cataract Canyon.

August

What a wonderful time to look up at the night sky: the Perseid meteor shower normally peaks in mid-August. The rivers are slowing down but still runnable, and a canoe trip down the Green might just be the adventure of a lifetime.

September

Finally, a reprieve from the summer heat. All-day mountain biking and hiking return to the Moab area, and with school back in session, expect smaller crowds. The best watermelons on earth are ripening nearby in Green River.

October

The days and nights are getting cooler, making camping a bit harder, especially later in the month. This is Moab at its finest, with fewer crowds, cool weather and maybe (just maybe) a trail all to yourself.

bike_moab_canyonlands
Trails in Canyonlands National Park outside Moab become less crowded as the high season winds down © Kyle T Perry / Shutterstock

November

Brrrr. It’s cold in the morning and at night. But daytime sun allows you to take on some of the area hikes still. Stay in a hotel in town, as it’s now too cold out there under the stars.

December

The town will feel pretty empty in December. What you get is loads of solitude and the chance of seeing snow above Delicate Arch.

Key Events: Christmas lights and holiday crafts fairs

This article was first published on October 20, 2021 and updated on March 28, 2022

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