Visiting Canyonlands National Park in February

Canyonlands is located in southeast Utah with a stunning landscape of canyons, mesas, buttes, and rivers. A trip to Canyonlands National Park in February is amazing!

Visiting Canyonlands in the winter is one of our favorite times to visit to avoid the crowds and get off-season rates! It’s a remote park so it’s important to know what to expect when visiting in February: services available, road conditions, weather, and more!

Canyonlands in February everything you need to know

Use this 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.

We live only a few hours away from Canyonlands so we’ve had the opportunity to visit many times during every season. The tips we share are based on our experiences visiting Canyonlands National Park throughout the years, and specifically for the month of February!

Our biggest tip is to be prepared for the weather so you’re able to enjoy the outdoor activities you want to do at Canyonlands! Use our Canyonlands Packing List to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in February! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

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A Photo Tour of Canyonlands National Park

Take a visual tour through Canyonlands National Park (and Dead Horse Point) to see the stunning landscape in the parks!

Visiting Canyonlands in February

Experience a quiet time at all Utah National Parks in the winter. 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!

Visitor services are reduced at Canyonlands in February. You’ll need to be more self-reliant when visiting either Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky or Needles Canyonlands.

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

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 NPS weather conditions on the NPS website.

Is Canyonlands National Park Open in February?

You bet! The park is open 24/7, but check the NPS site to get the Canyonlands updated winter hours because the Visitor Center is usually only open a few days of the week at Island of the Sky. The Needles Visitor Center is closed during the winter.

Be sure to check in advance to know what Canyonlands winter services are available as well as road and trail conditions before heading into the parks.

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 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.

Is February A Good Time to Visit Canyonlands National Park?

We enjoy the quiet you find in February at Canyonlands, but it’s not for everyone! Check out our guide for finding the best time to visit Canyonlands National Park. Each season and month of the year will have different activities and services available.

Due to unpredictable weather conditions in February, you may be limited on the things you can do at Canyonlands during and after a snow storm if roads are closed.

Services are limited or closed in February – there is no gas, food, or lodging at Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky or Needles Canyonlands.

Canyonlands Weather in February

In February Canyonlands National Park weather 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.

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.

If you’re not used to Utah’s dry air, you’ll also want lip balm and lotion!

winter hiking gear

Green River Overlook at Canyonlands with snow
Snow-covered landscape at Canyonlands

Things to Do at Canyonlands in February

Here’s a list of Canyonlands winter activities you can do in February: hiking, scenic drives, landscape photography, and more! Check out these resources for the two different districts you can visit:

There are fun ways to get everyone excited before, during and after the trip with National Park activities:

Canyonlands Visitor Center in February

The Island in the Sky Visitor Center closes two days of the week during the winter. Water is only available at the Visitor Center. Toilets can be found here and at various overlooks.

During the winter, the Needles Visitor Center is closed, but there is a pay phone and there are rangers on duty. Water is only available at the Visitor Center. There are toilets here, at the campground and the Elephant Hill trailhead.

There are no ranger-led programs during the winter.

Snowy road leading to Canyonlands Island in the Sky

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.

Check out these two scenic drives to see different views of Island in the Sky and Needles!

We recommend the Canyonlands GuideAlong App to hear fun behind-the scenes stories and local tips that play automatically as you drive, based on your GPS location.

Needles formations at Canyonlands by Photo Jeepers
Needles formations at Canyonlands

Canyonlands Hiking in February

There are a variety of Canyonlands National Park winter hikes that are perfect when the sun is out because it’s not too hot.

Island in the Sky hikes: Mesa Arch, Grand View Point, Aztec Butte and Upheaval Dome.

Canyonlands Needles hikes: Roadside Ruin, Pothole Point, Cave Spring. There are a few popular difficult hikes as well: Chelser Park Loop and Druid Arch trails.

Be sure 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!

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.

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

Mesa Arch at sunrise with snow
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 is best at sunrise and sunset. The colors are vibrant and the light creates a spectacular glow on the red rocks that cannot be missed.

To photograph Canyonlands sunrise at Island in the Sky we like Mesa Arch and Grand View Point. 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!

And for Canyonlands sunset photo spots at Island in the Sky we like the Colorado River Overlook as well as nearby Dead Horse Point State Park.

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

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!

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 with snow
Canyonlands with snow

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!

Canyonlands Tours in February

One of the best ways to get to know the park is booking a Canyonlands National Park tour! Whether you’re looking for a half-day or full-day excursion, there are plenty of Canyonlands tours available to fit your needs. Winter weather will affect tour schedules so check in advance!

Canyonlands Biking in February

You can ride on any public roadway at The Needles and Island in the Sky. You must ride single file. There are no road shoulders or bike lanes.

You’ll find hundreds of miles of roads for mountain biking in Canyonlands for day trips and overnight trips:

  • Overnight Biking Trips: must have a Canyonlands overnight backcountry permit. Reservations for White Rim campsites are very competitive so plan to make a reservation up to four months in advance.
  • Day Biking Trips: must have a Canyonlands day-use permit for White Rim, Elephant Hill, Lavender Canyon, and Peekaboo/Horse Canyon roads.

If you’ll be riding on 4WD roads, there are no shoulders or bike lanes so be aware of passing vehicles.

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps

Winter Lodging at Canyonlands

Things To Do Near Canyonlands in February

Canyonlands Itineraries

We’ve put together our favorite Canyonlands National Park Itineraries for 1, 2, or 3 days in the park! Grab a free copy by clicking the graphic below. Click on the links to read the detailed itinerary for Canyonlands based on the time you have to spend at the park!

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