Best Time to Visit Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks

If you’re thinking about visiting Bryce Canyon and Zion, you’re in for a real treat. Both Utah National Parks are simply breathtaking, and timing your visit right can make your trip even more memorable.

The best time to visit Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks depends on what you’re looking for. Whether it’s mild weather, fewer crowds, or witnessing the parks in all their snowy glory, each season brings its own charm.

Best Time to Visit Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks

It’s important to gather all the information about weather, services, what to pack, where to stay, and things to do during each season and month of the year at Bryce Canyon and Zion so you can determine the best time of year for YOU to visit.

Living only hours away from both parks, we’ve been able to visit Bryce Canyon and Zion during spring, summer, fall, and winter. The information we share in this guide is based on our experiences visiting both parks over the years.

Check out the Utah National Parks packing lists we put together for all five parks for all four seasons! Click the graphic below to get your free copy to print and use over and over!

Utah National Parks packing lists
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Best Time to Visit Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park

This is our list of the important things to consider when you are looking for the best time to visit Bryce Canyon and Zion. Both of these Utah National Parks are open 24/7 every day of the year.

Time of year, weather, temperature, crowds, services available, and things to do are big factors for deciding when to plan your Bryce Canyon and Zion vacation. In this article we provide an overview of what it’s like to visit both parks during each of the four seasons.

We really enjoy visiting both Utah National Parks in the winter during the offseason. But the cold and snowy weather does limit the services and activities available during that time so it might not be the most ideal time of year for the things you want to see, do, and photograph at Bryce Canyon and Zion.

Let’s dive into the details of planning a Bryce Canyon or Zion National Park vacation during all four seasons to help you determine the best time for YOU to visit!

Bryce Canyon National Park in February with snow
Bryce Canyon in the winter

Best Time to Visit Bryce Canyon

It’s all about the Bryce Canyon National Park weather when deciding the best time of year to plan a vacation. Due to the higher elevation at Bryce Canyon compared to the other Utah National Parks, the weather and temperatures will be different so it’s important to be up-to-date with current weather and road conditions!

Most of the year you’ll enjoy fun outdoor Bryce Canyon activities like scenic drives, hiking, biking, and horseback riding. During the winter, the activities are a bit more limited due to the cold and snow!

hike at Bryce Canyon, Thors Hammer

Bryce Canyon in the Spring 

Bryce Canyon will be cold, and may even be snowy, in early spring which usually means fewer (but steady) crowds. If you can avoid spring break, then April and May are considered some of the best times to visit Bryce Canyon for moderate temperatures with fewer crowds.

It is especially important to pack for all types of weather because you never know when the weather will change. It is not unusual to get a heavy snowfall in March or April. We recommend you pack winter clothes when going to Bryce Canyon in March and April. 

In early spring some of the Bryce Canyon spring hiking trails going down into the canyon could be closed due to unsafe conditions. The Rim Trail from Sunset to Sunrise Point (or Sunrise to Sunset Point) trail is the place to see fabulous views of the Bryce Amphitheater from above. There are several benches located along the trail if you want to sit and enjoy the views!

Bryce Canyon at sunrise

Bryce Canyon in the Summer

The temperatures at Bryce Canyon in the summer aren’t as hot as the other Utah National Parks which is a welcome relief! Beat the crowds by heading into the park early in the morning, or later in the afternoon.

We recommend having a fleece jacket for the cooler mornings and evenings. Summer monsoon rain storms are common as well so check the weather to see if you may also need a rain jacket.

Summer is a great time for Bryce Canyon sunrise photography and stargazing! The amphitheater at Bryce Canyon is perfect for sunrise photography because you’ll be facing east and can capture the sun crossing the horizon. Mornings will be cold, even in the summer, so layers are always a good thing. We’ve found that many of the overlooks will also be windy in the morning.

Definitely check out two of the best Bryce Canyon National Park tours: horseback riding into the canyon and ATV or Jeep tours!

horseback riding at bryce canyon
Horseback riding at Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon in the Fall 

As the summer crowds thin out and temperatures cool down, you can enjoy stunning views at Bryce Canyon in the fall without having to deal with the heat or huge numbers of tourists.

Definitely add the Bryce Canyon scenic drive to your must-do list of activities to do when visiting in the fall. It’s the best way to see all the park’s points of interest at each overlook you’ll see different views of hoodoos, arches and windows.

We always recommend you start by driving to the end of the road at Rainbow Point first. Then as you make your way back to the amphitheater all the overlooks are on the right so it’s easy to pull in and out of each parking lot.

Check out the Bryce Canyon GuideAlong App to hear fun behind-the scenes stories and local tips that play automatically as you drive, based on your GPS location. It’s a great way to have a tour guide in your car as you drive!

Bryce Canyon park entrance in the winter

Bryce Canyon in the Winter 

It will be cold and snowy when visiting Bryce Canyon in the winter, but the crowds are gone and you can truly appreciate this park in all its natural beauty. It is especially gorgeous to capture  Bryce Canyon winter photos with the white snow contrasting against the red orange hoodoos.

Remember Bryce Canyon sits at 8,000 feet so the scenery changes dramatically in the colder months. You’ll have a unique experience here, but it requires a very different packing list. With winter hiking gear and winter clothing, you will have an amazing trip to Bryce Canyon in the winter months. 

You’ll enjoy fun snow activities like snowshoeing, sledding and cross-country skiing at Bryce Canyon during the winter months. In the winter you’ll find the ranger-led programs at Bryce Canyon include Snowshoe Hikes. The park provides snowshoes at the visitor center if you don’t bring your own. This snowshoe adventure takes about 1 ½ to two hours to complete. 

The park does a great job of plowing the Bryce Canyon roads as well as the parking lots near the viewpoints. Always check the Bryce Canyon website for current conditions.

Best Time to Visit Zion National Park

It’s important to know what the Zion weather will be like at various times of year so you can decide which season and month is best for you to plan your vacation to this stunning park!

Zion in located in the southwest corner of Utah so most of the year you’ll enjoy fun outdoor Zion National Park activities like scenic drives, hiking, biking, and photography. During the winter, the activities may be a bit more limited due to cold or snowy conditions!

chains section of Angel's Landing hike
Chains section of Angel’s Landing hike

Zion in the Spring

Springtime at Zion varies quite a bit from month to month. In early spring you’ll need to pack for all types of weather because you never know when the weather will change. It is not unusual to get rain or even snowfall in March so pack layers.

Zion is a popular destination for spring break in Utah so be prepared for crowds! In the spring, Zion Canyon is only accessible by using the Zion National Park shuttle.

Spring is a great time to see pop-up waterfalls due to rain and spring runoff! BUT that’s bad news if you want to hike The Narrows or The Subway as they will close when the water is running too high or fast to safely hike.

Also, depending on the amount of snow received in the winter, the higher elevations may still be snow-covered or icy in early spring.

You will need an Angels Landing permit year-round if you plan to hike the chain section, or you can hike up to Scout’s Landing and return if you don’t have a permit.

If you want to enjoy spring hiking, get into the park early or check out all the Zion hikes without the shuttle to avoid the crowds.

Zion Hoodoo in Kolob Terrace
Hoodoo in Kolob Terrace

Zion in the Summer

The temperatures will be HOT HOT HOT in the summer! Since the temperatures are brutal this time of year, plan your outdoor activities for the cooler mornings and evenings!

With the hot summer temperatures, you’ll want to protect yourself from the sun by wearing a sun hatsunscreen and sunglasses. It’s important to stay hydrated and carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack.

Summer is a great time to enjoy the AC as you explore the other Zion National Park scenic drives where you can drive your own vehicle and avoid the shuttle. Zion Canyon will require using the shuttle. You’ll see stunning landscape driving the Highway 9 and Kolob Terrace Roads!

Monsoon season at Zion is late summer through early fall. Be aware of potential flash floods at Zion: sudden increase in the depth and speed of water in rivers, streams, or washes due to heavy rain from thunderstorms. These flood waters carry large debris like tree trunks and boulders.

Pa'rus trail with fall colors at Zion
Pa’rus trail with fall colors at Zion

Zion National Park in the Fall

The weather at Zion in the fall starts to cool down making it a great time to explore the park because it will be cooler in the mornings and evenings, and the daytime temperatures aren’t too hot compared to the summer.

Fall is a nice time to be in the park to enjoy a variety of activities. We enjoy capturing Zion National Park photos with the colorful fall leaves along the Pa’rus Trail, in Zion Canyon, and along Highway 9.

There are world-famous Zion canyoneering trails that involve route finding, rappelling, hiking, and swimming. Fall is the ideal time of year to explore the two famous canyoneering trails: The Subway and The Narrows from the top-down. Both hikes require a permit, and all overnight trips in these areas also require a permit.

You can also find plenty of unique canyons to explore in Zion to accommodate all levels of canyoneering skill. If you’re new to this outdoor activity, try a canyoneering tour!

Checkerboard Mesa at Zion with snow
Checkerboard Mesa at Zion with snow

Zion National Park in the Winter

The temperatures really drop at Zion National Park in the winter so it’s the least busy season. We don’t mind the colder weather for enjoying outdoor activities, which makes the winter the best time for us to visit to escape the crowds!

Normally Zion does not see a lot of snow, up to 5 inches a year in the park. The cold winter weather may not be for everyone!

The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is OPEN to private vehicles during the winter, except for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day and weekends in February. Once all lots are full in Zion Canyon, it will close until there are open spaces available.

We enjoy taking Zion National Park winter photos, especially when there’s snow. The contrast of the colorful rocks with the white snow is just beautiful. Check out these awesome photographer gloves and rechargeable hand warmers we use!

Check with the visitor center before doing any winter hiking in Zion National Park. Some trails may be closed due to unsafe conditions. You’ll also want to know what trails have snow or ice that require traction devices.

If you want to hike The Narrows or the Subway, the water will be COLD in the winter so you’ll need special water suits and boots that can be rented in Springdale.

Bryce Canyon maps and guides

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Visiting Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks

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