Places to Visit in Utah in December

Here’s a list of places to visit in Utah in December to see Utah’s stunning snowy or red rock landscapes, enjoy outdoor activities, and attend fun events.

You’ll find a variety of Utah vacation destinations to go during the month of December like National Parks, State Parks, and National Monuments! Take advantage of the holiday events in Salt Lake City and surrounding areas as well.

places to visit in Utah in December

We have lived in Utah for over 20 years and get to explore the state often. Even though there may be winter snow and cold temperatures, we enjoy traveling around Utah in December! We’re excited to share our list of places to visit and things to do in Utah during the month of December based on our travels!

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A Photo Tour of Utah National Parks

Take a visual tour through all five Utah National Parks to see the stunning landscapes you’ll see when you visit!

Visiting Utah in December

There are a lot of places to go in Utah in the winter. It’s important to know the expected weather and temperatures you may encounter! A Utah winter vacation in December can be in the snow or sun, or both! 

Utah weather in December will vary between Northern and Southern Utah. The temperatures in the higher elevations will be cooler than the lower elevations by 10 to 20 degrees.

Utah temperatures in December:

  • Northern Utah (Salt Lake City): highs 39 / lows 25 degrees F 
  • Southern Utah (St. George): highs 53 / lows 28 degrees F

In Northern Utah and higher elevation areas expect cold temperatures with snow storms possible any time during the month! In Central and Southern Utah, you can enjoy more moderate temperatures and usually snow-free conditions in December. The higher elevations in Southern Utah will be cold and snowy, like Bryce Canyon.

When visiting Utah in December, you’ll want layers. We recommend being prepared for really cold temperatures:

Pack your winter road trip supplies because Utah roads will be impacted by snow or ice after storms. Driving between the northern and southern parts of the state you’ll be passing through rural areas with small towns, limited services, and spotty cell service.

Places to Visit in Utah in December

Check out this list of amazing places to go and things to do when visiting Utah in December like exploring the National and State Parks, enjoying snow activities, or attending fun holiday events!

This is a list of the places we recommend visiting when planning a December vacation to Utah.

Bryce Canyon in the winter

Bryce Canyon National Park in December

Due to the high elevation of Bryce Canyon (near 8,000 feet!), the temperatures in December are cold! The average highs around 36 degrees Fahrenheit and the lows around 15 degrees at night.

December is a magical time to visit because there are so many Bryce Canyon winter activities to enjoy with no crowds! You can enjoy Ranger-led programs like Snowshoe Hikes. Snowshoes are available at the visitor center if you don’t bring your own.

After a snow storm, most of the hiking trails at Bryce Canyon will require snowshoes. After a few days of use, the trails will become packed you’ll need to wear hiking boots with traction devices instead.

The other four parks don’t usually see large amounts of snow. But it’s common to get a dusting of snow, or even a few inches of snow, when storms roll through the area.

We recommend visiting all 5 National Parks in Utah in December. It’s the off season so you can enjoy your vacation without the crowds you find in the summer. The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is usually busy so we try to avoid visiting during that time.

The parks are open 24/7 all year long, but the Visitor Centers will be closed on Christmas Day. Some services and facilities close for the winter so check each individual park for closures and services before visiting.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes in the winter

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in December

Located near Kanab in the Southeastern part of the state is Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. If there’s snow, the contrast of white against the red landscape is stunning!

You’ll find other Kanab photography opportunities in December when you visit places like the Moqui Sand Caves, Peek-a-boo Slot Canyon, Belly of the Dragon, and Toadstool Hoodoos. If you’re lucky to get a permit, you can hike to the iconic Wave!

Here’s a list of more Utah State Parks we recommend you visit in December:

Moab Potash Road in the winter
Moab’s Potash Road in the winter

Moab in December

The Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway in Moab is stunning in the winter with the contrast of white snow against the red rocks! It also features beautiful views of the Colorado River, ancient rock petroglyphs, and dinosaur tracks.

This Utah scenic drive is a 34 mile roundtrip drive along the Colorado River. Plan about 2 hours for the drive and stops to take pictures. We like going in the late afternoon so the canyon walls will glow with that deep orange color and reflect into the Colorado River.

You can also enjoy a variety of other Moab winter activities like hiking, biking, rock climbing, and offroading in Jeeps or ATVs!

Be sure to explore the other scenic drives at both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks:

We recommend the Utah National Parks GuideAlong App to hear fun behind-the-scenes stories and local tips that play automatically as you drive, based on your GPS location as you drive through each park!

Park City Utah in the winter
Park City Utah in the winter

Park City in December

If you’re a lover of winter sports, you’re in for a treat—Park City boasts world-class ski resorts, perfect for both beginner and expert skiers alike.

There’s also a long list of festive Park City events, from holiday parades to tree lighting ceremonies. You can even take a ride on the Santa Express Train or join in on some old-fashioned caroling.

if you’re not a fan of winter activities or holiday celebrations, Park City still has something for you. Its charming Main Street is lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and cozy restaurants perfect for indulging in some retail therapy or trying out delicious local cuisine. And don’t forget to check out the many spas and wellness centers for some much-needed relaxation and pampering.

mom with kids at Utah Crater
Swimming in the Utah Crater

Utah Crater and Hot Springs in December

Located in Midway near Park City, you’ll find the Utah Homestead Crater – a natural 65 foot deep hot spring found inside a 55 foot tall mineral dome. The water ranges in the low 90 degrees, and it’s a fantastic place in Utah to visit in December.

Utah Crater also offers scuba diving, snorkeling and even paddleboard yoga. Changing facilities are available. Be sure to make a reservation. 

You can also find several hot springs around Utah that are open during the winter season.

Christmas lights at Temple Square

Salt Lake City in December

You’ll find local events in Utah in December all around the state. We’re going to highlight the events happening close to Salt Lake City.

Temple Square is Utah’s most visited attraction. In December the grounds light up with over one million Christmas lights! There are seasonal concerts and guided tours to learn about this historical site.

Ice skate at the Gallivan Center with twinkling lights all around or stroll around the Grand America to enjoy the holiday window displays.

Check out all the events happening in December so you can schedule them into your itinerary: Utah Jazz basketball games, Christmas concerts, winter festivals, holiday lights, performing arts programs, and more!

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

Utah National Parks Winter Photography in December

You can’t beat the amazing Bryce Canyon winter photos you can get with the snow accenting the hoodoo-filled landscape.

The other four National Parks in Utah don’t usually get large amounts of snow. But it’s common to get a dusting of snow, or even a few inches of snow, when storms roll through.

You’re in for a treat when it snows to capture winter photos at Arches National Park, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef with the white contrast against the red rock landscape!

To get the best Zion National Park winter photos, we recommend exploring all three scenic drives: Zion Canyon, Highway 9, and Kolob Terrace Road to capture a variety of landscapes found at the park.

We recommend using winter clothing and winter gear for you and your camera like photographer glovesrechargeable hand warmers, and a lens warmer.

Utah Travel Guides & Maps

Utah guides and maps

Places to Stay in Utah in the Winter

Utah Bucket List

Check out even more fun Utah Bucket List ideas for your vacation. Be sure to grab the free printable that includes ideas for things to see, do and taste all around the state! Click the image below!

utah bucket list - grab the free packet

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