(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay)

The weather in the La Sals could not be more perfect for snowshoeing. The temps are relatively warm, the skies are sunny and clear, and the nordic trail is groomed semi-frequently by the Lower Utah Nordic Alliance (LUNA for short). 

If you’re not a snow person–but you’d like to get into it–snowshoeing is a fantastic and easily accessible winter sport to get you exploring our local mountains. The La Sals are a wonderful place to get started as well since there is a Nordic ski trail groomed up there once or twice a week. As a snowshoer, all you have to do is follow the trail and enjoy the view! 

Buying Snowshoes 

La Sals Snow Kaya Lindsay

(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay)

If you don’t have a pair of snowshoes yet, you can purchase some new or used snowshoes at Moab Gear Trader. Our friendly staff are extremely knowledgeable and can get you set up with the best gear for the best adventures, at the best price. Just stop by at 300 S Main street and we’ll have you prepped with the right gear for you in no time. 

Snowshoes allow for across snow travel by spreading your weight evenly along a larger surface area. Without snowshoes, you would have to “post hole” your way through the snow, which is an incredibly difficult and uncomfortable mode of travel. Snowshoes are sized by weight instead of by foot size, so when picking out your snowshoe remember to include the weight of your pack as well as your own body weight. The heavier you are, the larger the snowshoe you’ll need. Some snowshoes are differentiated by gender, but most are not. 

You will also want poles to help you navigate the snow if this is your first time! Using hiking or ski poles will work just fine if that is all you have. The poles help you keep balance and can assist with uphill travel when things get challenging. Using poles for uphill snowshoeing will also give you a good arm workout! Some may not like the poles, but if you’re just starting off, it’s worth it to try them out first. Rather have and not want than want and not have! 

It’s also important to layer up. Gloves, hat, buff, base layer, jacket, and nice warm socks are all a must, particularly if you’re planning to go snowshoeing in the evening as the temperature drops quickly in the La Sals. As snowshoeing can be somewhat strenuous, you’ll want to make sure you can shed layers in case you start to sweat. It’s recommended that you bring a small pack to add or remove layers from if the need arises. 

Getting There

Know before you go! Check out our Winter Condition Updates for real-time updates on the snowpack in the La Sals. You will also want to stay wary of the avalanche danger in the La Sals in case you plan on going off-trail. The Utah Avalanche Center keeps up a very high-quality report for the Moab Area. If you plan to stay on the Nordic ski trail it is extremely unlikely that you’ll be in any avalanche danger. Anything less than a 30-degree slope and the risk of avalanches goes down to zero. You can enjoy the Noric ski trail anytime this winter without fear of avalanches. However, if you plan on exploring off-trail it is important to keep in mind the avalanche risks. Do your research and stay safe!

Getting to the La Sals from town is simply a matter of taking the La Sal Loop Road until you meet the Geyser Pass turn off. The La Sal Loop road is paved but can be icy as snow begins to melt during the day and then freeze overnight. Conditions on the Geyser Pass road are subject to change, but it is typically gravel and heavily washboarded. Snow can make this road occasionally challenging to navigate, being icy or muddy depending on the weather. Make sure you bring a 4×4 vehicle if the snow is deep, or at least a 2 wheel drive vehicle with decent clearance and chains. 

Park at the obvious Geyser Pass Trailhead, there is a bathroom there for visitors use. The Geyser Pass Trail is a groomed Nordic ski trail and is closed to all motorized vehicles from December-May every year. 

Etiquette and Technique 

(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay)

As a courtesy to your fellow snow enthusiasts, please try to stay to the side of the trail and leave the nicely groomed snow to the skiers! It is much easier to ski on flat snow, and snowshoes churn up the trail quite a lot. Plus, you’ll have more opportunity to wander into the trees and enjoy a snowy winter landscape all to yourself that way.

As you begin hiking, find a pace that works for you and stick with it. Snowshoeing is much more strenuous than hiking since you have all that extra weight on the ends of your feet. As someone who considers herself rather fit, I was breathing heavily and sweating after only a few minutes of snowshoeing. It’s a great workout! 

(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay)

While snowshoeing in the La Sals, there are several meadows and trails you can explore if you stick to the Nordic Trail. There is the Bunny Hill, the Beginner Meadow Loop, and Junction Meadow to name a few. Each one can be found after only a short stint of hiking. Keep an eye out for the Junction Meadow, as the trail splits! We have a map of the La Sals at Moab Gear Trader, (which visitors can have for free) that details many spots of interest in the La Sals, as well as diverse trails to take advantage of. 

(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay)

Wrapping it Up 

(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay)

Once you’ve had enough of the scenic views of the La Sals, turn around and start your pleasant hike back downhill. It can get cold and quite dark earlier in the La Sals than in Moab, so keep that in mind when planning to turn around. You don’t want to get caught in the dark!

In addition to hiking poles, layers, and a good attitude, you should strongly consider bringing a camera (maybe a flask of whiskey?), and a few snacks for the trip! Snowshoeing is a strenuous cardio workout that you can enjoy with anyone. It also makes for a great social distancing activity. 

Enjoy the La Sals with your newfound activity, bring a friend or two, and relish the chance to see the snowy mountains in a different way.