Winter mini adventure: Grandstaff Hike, Moab Ut

Here’s a great way to get out of the house in the middle of winter, get out to Moab and hike up Grandstaff canyon for gorgeous streams and icicles and to see the natural bridge at the end.

Grandstaff Natural bridge

Head up Scenic Byway 128 just before getting into the town of Moab, right after the bridge on HWY 191, turn left up the canyon. The trailhead sign is visible from the road “Grandstaff Canyon Trailhead” on the right a little over 3 miles up 128. There’s a few parking spots with a kiosk and a pit toilet.

Scenic HWY 128 & the Colorado River
a different view on Hwy 128

My husband and I did this hike in February with no snow fall for weeks previously so it wasn’t too cold. This hike is there and back and a little over 2 miles in, 2 miles out. Grandstaff has lots of shady spots that are kind of cold in winter, but I’ll bet this hike is fantastic in the spring, a cool one to do in summer. and provide a gorgeous fall background in October. 

A beautiful canyon

Grandstaff Canyon showcases red cliffs, plenty of vegetation and greenery, (in the Spring I can imagine), and the bubbling, trickling sounds, and wonderful reflections of the surrounding beauty in a little stream that runs through it. 


What terrain to expect

Nothing too crazy here, just crossing the stream several times and a few icy/snowy parts where the sun hardly hits the ground. I wore insulated/waterproof hiking boots and at first thought I was wrong in choosing to wear them because my feet were getting pretty hot. I was thankful as they made it easier to cross all the streams and provided warmth after doing so several times there and back. I also packed crampons but didn’t end up needing them enough to want to put them on.

We only saw a few people on our entire hike so it’s obviously not as popular during the winter.

There isn’t a lot of elevation gain or anything technical to get around or through so I believe it is 

a good hike for just about anyone, kids and dogs included, depending on your kids and dogs that is. You may end up carrying them across some of the water crossings. 

Grandstaff Natural Bridge

The natural bridge at the end of the hike doesn’t look like much until you can get right up to it and under it. The trail takes you under it and into a kind of cave like area where a crack in the cliff wall seeps out a tiny bit of water, but sounds like the stream you’ve been hiking next to during the entire hike. This area was previously named Negro Bill Canyon wilderness study area but then changed to Grandstaff, which is the last name of William Grandstaff, whom the canyon is named after. 

From what I could tell, there could be a lot of exploring done in this canyon, especially in the warmer months. Have you been on this hike in the winter? How was your experience?