Best Cold-Weather Hikes in the Mountain West

Best Cold-Weather Hikes in the Mountain West

The winter can be a fantastic time for hiking in the Mountain West region, as long as you dress for the occasion and bring enough supplies. Here are three hikes to include in your cold-weather plans.

A view of the sun from behind a natural rock arch.

Corona Arch Trail: Moab, Utah

This three-mile hike lets you marvel at some of the natural structures known as the Moab Arches. The summer is a particularly hot time to explore this trail. That’s because it has few shady areas, save for a few rocky overhangs that give shade in the afternoon. Scheduling a cold-weather trip here lets you escape sweltering temperatures, plus beat the crowds the warmer weather often attracts.

Due to some heights and slick surfaces along the trail, parts of it feature metal cables doubling as handrails. You can also scale a metal ladder to reach a juniper tree, along with a bench you can use to admire the view.

A dark and moody view of a mountain peak.

Devils Tower National Monument: Devils Tower, Wyoming

People have lived around Devils Tower National Monument for centuries. Now, many descendents of those ancient dwellers still feel a natural connection to this majestic landmark. Hikers appreciate the multiple perspectives provided by the geologic formation.

Take your pick of the park’s five hiking trails, offering fabulous Tower views. They all connect, making it easy to plan a trek to suit your abilities and the time you have available. Whether you want to take a one-and-a-half mile stroll or a more extensive journey with significant elevation changes, Devils Tower National Monument has a hike you’re sure to love.

A view of a canyon road cutting between rocky areas.

Paint Mines Trail: Calhan, Colorado

The Paint Mines Trail is part of The Paint Mines Interpretive Park, which stretches across approximately 750 acres. Historical evidence suggests humans first lived at the site up to 9,000 years ago. This hiking destination got its name from the colorful clay American Indians gathered to make paint. Today, you can’t help but notice the vivid bands created across the clay layers by oxidized iron compounds.

The Paint Mines Trail is a loop that takes you across wetlands, badlands and prairie. Animals ranging from rabbits to mule deer call the diverse ecosystem home. The park’s trails collectively rise more than 500 feet, helping you enjoy spectacular views of the unique and memorable surrounding clay.

Pick the Right Pack for Your Winter Adventure

Backpacks are definitely “don’t leave home without them” items on a winter hike! They let you keep your hands free while being well-prepared during a chilly day.

Hands are opening a TETON Sports Oasis Backpack in red.

Our Oasis 18L Hydration Pack has a handy bungee cord on the outside, maximizing what you can comfortably carry. This pack has adjustability in the shoulders, chest and waist, plus enough capacity for a full day’s worth of water. It also comes in a 22-liter version.

A man faces away from the camera while wearing a TETON Sports TrailRunner 2L Backpack and viewing a snowy mountain range.

When you’re planning a shorter hike, the Trailrunner 2.0 Hydration Pack is the perfect companion. The convenient micromesh outer pocket keeps snacks and other small essentials within easy reach. The reflective trim also increases visibility, which is crucial if part of your hike occurs in low-light hours.

A woman faces away from the camera at dusk wearing a TETON Sports Rock Backpack for hiking.

If you need to carry more gear, look no further than the roomy Rock 1800 Backpack. Stash water bottles or other frequently accessed items in the two zippered side pockets. Put your phone or another device nearby by putting it in the integrated shoulder strap pocket. The no-snag zippers with oversized pulls make it easy to get to your gear, even while wearing gloves.

Hiking the Mountain West region in the winter is a great way to enjoy seasonal wildlife during a period that’s typically less crowded. Before embarking on these hikes or any others, always check the weather forecast and bring the essentials you need to stay prepared.