Arches National Park

America's Best Winter Drives

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NPS Photo by Jacob W. Frank

Check out the season’s cold-weather beauty from the comfort of your car on these top winter drives.

Arches National Park, Utah

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Starting Point: Moab, UT

The Route: 36 miles on the park’s Scenic Drive

What to Expect: Beautiful any time of year, Arches National Park’s natural sandstone sculptures assume an ethereal quality when covered in a layer of snow and bathed in soft winter light—best for desert photography. The scenic drive is paved, and even after a storm, snow usually melts off quickly.

Where to Stop: Moderate daytime temperatures (usually in the mid-40s; dress in layers) invite a walk along the Park Avenue Trail, a stroll right through The Windows, and a pause to marvel at Balanced Rock.

Arches National Park

America's Best Winter Drives

Arches National Park, Utah

Starting Point: Moab, UT

The Route: 36 miles on the park’s Scenic Drive

What to Expect: Beautiful any time of year, Arches National Park’s natural sandstone sculptures assume an ethereal quality when covered in a layer of snow and bathed in soft winter light—best for desert photography. The scenic drive is paved, and even after a storm, snow usually melts off quickly.

Where to Stop: Moderate daytime temperatures (usually in the mid-40s; dress in layers) invite a walk along the Park Avenue Trail, a stroll right through The Windows, and a pause to marvel at Balanced Rock.

NPS Photo by Jacob W. Frank

America's Best Winter Drives

Ever dreamed of driving through a traffic-free Yosemite National Park? It’s possible when you step outside the typical summer season. In fact, winter’s embrace means a slackened tourist pace in many popular warm-weather destinations, so this is an ideal time to explore America’s open roads.

Witness Yellowstone Falls grow an icy exoskeleton as the river persists out of sight. In Utah’s Arches National Park, the low winter sun creates optimum conditions for photographing the mighty sandstone sculptures, even prettier with a dusting of snow. Out east, the Great Smoky and Shenandoah National Parks compensate for southerly latitude with frosty altitude and leafless, ice-glistened forests.

Related: America's Best Cities for Winter Travel

Just remember, winter driving brings its own set of cautions: the more majestic the conditions, often the more dangerous the road, especially when tooling along unfamiliar routes. The Department of Transportation recommends stocking a basic winter survival kit (flashlight, batteries, blanket, snacks, water, gloves, boots, and a first-aid kit); tire chains, an ice scraper, jumper cables, and road flares couldn’t hurt either. And always confirm your vehicle’s maintenance is current before a winter trip.

From Alaskan fjords to New Mexico’s high desert pueblos and covered-bridge country in Indiana, here are America’s top winter drives you’ll want to experience before spring.

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