What It’s Like Visiting Canyonlands National Park in February

A trip to Canyonlands National Park in February is amazing! It’s one of the best times to visit to avoid the crowds found during the peak seasons of spring, summer and fall.

Use our tips below and our Canyonlands National Park guide to help you decide if a February vacation is the right time for you to enjoy outdoor winter adventures at this park.

We share fun things to do, what to pack, where to stay and services available in February at Canyonlands.

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VISITING CANYONLANDS IN FEBRUARY

Winter is a quiet time at this Utah National Park. You’ll enjoy the park with fewer people and avoid the heat of summer. In February you won’t wait in line to enter the park and you often have the parking lots and trails to yourself!

We love visiting Canyonlands National Park in the winter! But there are some drawbacks to keep in mind. Visitor services are reduced at Canyonlands in February. You’ll need to be more self-reliant when visiting Canyonlands National Park in the winter.  

The hiking trails remain open year-round, but you may encounter snow and ice which may require traction devices and trekking poles. 

If you’re ok with those two things, then you should definitely visit Canyonlands in February!

CANYONLANDS WEATHER IN FEBRUARY

The weather at Canyonlands in February is cold. And if a snow storm rolls through, trails and roads may become impassable. The average highs are around 52 degrees with the lows around 28 degrees.

Remember that Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky is located at 6,100 feet above sea level, and Needles Canyonlands is 5,920 so it does get cold in the winter, even if the sun is out.

Check out our article explaining Canyonlands Island in the Sky vs Needles!

Dress in layers when visiting Canyonlands in February. Take warm winter clothing and dress in layers so you’ll actually want to get out of the car when you get to the trailhead. Wear waterproof hiking boots so you don’t get soggy feet!

After a snow storm, the park road might be closed for plowing for a few hours. Keep in mind that the roads, parking lots, and pullouts in the park can still be icy, especially in shaded areas. You can see current weather conditions on the NPS website.

Green River Overlook at Canyonlands with snow

Things to Do at Canyonlands in February

Check out all the fun things to do at Canyonlands National Park.

Here are some tips for visiting in February”

  • Check road and weather conditions so you’re prepared to enjoy the outdoors.
  • Be flexible with your schedule, especially in the winter as conditions may close parts of the park.

Canyonlands Visitor Center in February

There is a Canyonlands Island in the Sky Visitor Center and a Needles Visitor Center. Check the website for operating hours in February. You’ll find exhibits, book and map sales, backcountry permits, picnic area, and general information. Water is available year-round.

We recommend you stop and talk with the Park Ranger on duty so you get the most updated information like road conditions and trail conditions before you start exploring the park.

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Canyonlands Scenic Drives in February

If you’re lucky enough, you might get a snow storm that rolls through in February so you can see and photograph the contrast of white snow on the red rock landscape! Due to the elevation at Island in the Sky, check to make sure the Island in the Sky scenic drive is open after a snow storm.

You’ll also see the same cool contrast of white snow against colorful stone spires driving through Needles Canyonlands. We like to stop at all pullouts to enjoy the diverse beauty of the stone spires in this part of the park.=

Canyonlands Hiking in February

Exploring Canyonlands hikes in the winter is very enjoyable when the sun is out. Remember it’s still important to stay hydrated and carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack. You’ll even need to still wear sunscreen in the winter!

Most of the Island in the Sky hikes and Needles hikes are fully exposed to the sun, which is perfect for your visit in February.

Keep in mind you may encounter ice, snow and mud in shady areas of the trails because of the cold temperatures so wet areas don’t dry out. You may need traction devices on some trails. Check with the visitors center for the most current trail conditions.

Permits are required for backcountry hiking. Services to get those permits are limited in February so plan ahead!

Mesa Arch at sunrise with snow

Canyonlands Photography in February

We often wish for snow when we take our February trip to Canyonlands. The landscape of red rocks with white snow is so pretty! Be prepared for all types of winter photography due to weather. You can still capture amazing photos with rain, snow and fog.

Canyonlands National Park photography at Island in the Sky is amazing at sunrise and sunset. Our favorite sunrise spots at Island in the Sky are Grand View Point and Mesa Arch. We like the Colorado River Overlook at sunset.

Mesa Arch at sunrise might be the most famous image to photograph in the park. It won’t be as crowded in the winter, and you may get lucky on a week day to have the area to yourself!

CHECK OUT our Arches & Canyonlands Photography Guide that includes a list of best photo spots for sunrise and sunset… and includes a 3-day itinerary for both parks!

And since it will be cold, we like to use photographer gloves and keep rechargeable hand warmers in our coat pockets!

Arches and Canyonlands photography guide

Canyonlands Stargazing in February

It will be cold in February at night, but it’s worth it to set aside one evening to stay after the sun sets and LOOK UP! You’ll quickly see why Canyonlands has the slogan: “Half the Park is After Dark”.

Canyonlands is internationally recognized as one of the best places for stargazing because of its remote location, accessibility, altitude and clear skies. It’s a popular destination for astrophotographers so you won’t be alone in the park at night.

Canyonlands Off-Road Trails in February

February is an “iffy” time for exploring the off-road trails at Canyonlands. If the Shafer Trail is open, and you have the right vehicle, we recommend this challenging, unpaved backcountry road in Island in the Sky that connects with Moab.

And check out the 4×4 trails at Needles Canyonlands, but again check to see if they’re open or if you’ll need a permit.

At Canyonlands, high-clearance 4WD vehicles with a low range gear (4LO) are required on all off-road trails. ATVs, OHVs, or UTVs are not permitted inside the park. Do not attempt to drive these trails if you are inexperienced since there is a high risk of vehicle damage that could lead to towing costs in excess of $1,000!

Other Canyonlands Activities

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FAQ’S FOR VISITING CANYONLANDS IN FEBRUARY

Is Canyonlands National Park Open in February?

You bet! The park is open 24/7, but check the NPS site to get the updated winter hours.

Does it Snow at Canyonlands in February?

Yes, it may snow in February, but it’s not usually large amounts. When a storm rolls through, the park can get a dusting of snow, or even a few inches.

Do the Roads Close at Canyonlands in February?

The park road might be closed after a snowfall for several hours for plowing. For road conditions getting to Canyonlands, check the Utah Road Weather Forecast or call 1-866-511-UTAH (8824).

Park roads, parking lots, and pullouts can still be icy, especially in shaded areas. Check at the visitor center for the latest information on road conditions.

What Park Services are Available in February?

  • There is no gas, food or lodging at Canyonlands. There are toilets at the visitor center and various overlooks.
  • Water is available at the Canyonlands Island in the Sky Visitor Center only from 9 am to 4 pm. You can only get water at the Needles Visitor Center. It’s recommended you pack ALL the water you’ll need for your visit just in case these facilities are closed.

What is the Best Time to Visit Canyonlands National Park?

Here’s a helpful guide of the best time to visit Canyonlands National Park with information for visiting during each season and specific months of the year.

ALWAYS remember to check the forecast and road conditions because conditions change from day to day.

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps:

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

Plan Your Canyonlands Vacation

WHERE TO STAY NEAR CANYONLANDS

There are no lodging facilities in the park, but there are campgrounds.

Where to stay near Canyonlands – these are our favorite places in Moab:

  •  Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Moab – we enjoyed our stay and highly recommend this hotel due to its location close to Canyonlands.
  •  Purple Sage – our all-time favorite place to stay in Moab – walking distance to shopping, full kitchen, and only 8 units so you don’t feel lost in a large hotel.
  •  Red Cliffs Lodge – rooms up to 6 people – located 17 miles from Moab, this lodge is known for its beautiful location, winery and activities like horseback riding, fishing and more!
  • Townhomes south of town – we really like the townhomes in Spanish Valley with kitchen, washer and dryer in the unit and a swimming pool/hot tub (just a 5 minute drive south of Moab).
  • Rent an RV – have it dropped off at your vacation destination!

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