December is an exciting time to visit Utah, with a variety of festive activities and beautiful winter scenery to experience. You’ll find fun things to do in Utah in December for all ages and interests!
There are fun places to visit in Utah in December to enjoy snow activities like skiing and snowshoeing. In Southern Utah you can still do outdoor activities without snow like hiking, biking, and scenic drives.
We have lived in Utah for over 20 years and get to explore the state often. The first part of December is a wonderful time to visit all five Utah National Parks and various Utah State Parks. The week between Christmas and New Year’s will be crowded so we try to avoid that week if possible.
We’ve teamed up with our travel friends to share a list of things to do during the month of December in Utah based on all our travel experiences!
Use our Utah Packing Lists to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for your winter vacation! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!
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!
What to Expect in Utah in December
When navigating around the state, it’s important to note where the various Utah winter vacation spots are located because driving from Salt Lake City in the north to any of the National Parks in the south can take 4 to 5 hours.
You’ll find most of Utah’s biggest cities (like Salt Lake City and Park City) and ski resorts in the Northern part of the state. As you leave the north and head toward the south, you pass by small towns with limited services. You’ll find all 5 Utah National Parks in Southern Utah.
Winter is the offseason at all Utah National Parks and a good time to avoid the crowds and heat you’ll find other times of year. Keep in mind that services may close and operating hours will be shortened.
Always pay attention to road and weather conditions no matter where you’re traveling in Utah in the winter!!
Utah December Weather
When visiting Utah in December be sure to check the weather and temperatures for the time you’ll visit. You never know when a snow storm will roll through!
- Average temperature in Northern Utah (Salt Lake City): highs 39 / lows 27 degrees F.
- Average temperature in Southern Utah (St. George): highs 63 / lows 40 degrees F.
Yes, it does snow in the southern parts of Utah, but it doesn’t usually stay on the ground too long so you can enjoy all those fun outdoor activities without crowds or heat!
What To Wear In Utah In December
If you’ll be doing any outdoor activities, we recommend at least the following when visiting Utah in the winter:
- Base Layers: Wicking base layers will give you the warmth you need to fight off the cold winter weather. Plus, you can take them off easily whenever you no longer need them.
- Fleece jackets: Fleece jackets serve as a light layer on warmer days in the park but can also add warmth to your layering.
- Insulated Jackets: Insulated jackets provide the perfect warmth for short or extended excursions.
- Wool socks: Do not wear cotton socks. It is best to wear wool socks for winter. Bring a spare just in case anything unexpected happens.
- Insulated hats: An insulated hat will protect you from losing too much of your body temperature through your head.
- Winter gloves: If it’s extremely cold, use an insulating glove inside a waterproof shell mitt to provide dexterity and warmth.
- Waterproof hiking boots: Hiking boots need to be waterproof. You may also need traction devices for some trails.
If you’re planning an outdoor activity during your visit to Utah in December, check the forecast ahead of time as conditions can change quickly.
Utah NP Mighty 5 AUDIO TOUR
“It’s just like having a tour guide along for the ride. You’ll hear stories, local tips & navigation play automatically, all based on your location. Best of all it doesn’t need cell signal, the tour works offline with GPS.”
Things To Do Utah in December
We’ve put together a fun list of amazing things to do when visiting Utah in December. From snow sports and activities, to scenic drives, to exploring the National and State Parks, there’s something for everyone this time of year!
Keep in mind that winter driving in Utah can be tricky so here are a few tips from the Utah Highway Patrol:
- Know the Utah weather and road conditions before you begin traveling.
- If roads are snowy or icy, SLOW DOWN.
- Stay behind snow plows and never pass on the right!
- Prepare your vehicle for winter driving
- Stock your vehicle with winter road trip supplies
Things To Do In Northern Utah In December
Ready for some winter fun? Northern Utah is your go-to spot, especially in December! Utah’s northern cities and mountains are a treat for anyone who enjoys snow activities! Plus enjoy holiday-themed events and colorful lights when the sun goes down.
Salt Lake City in December
There’s something for everyone in or near Salt Lake City in the winter! Temple Square is Utah’s most visited attraction. In December the grounds light up with over one million Christmas lights! There are Christmas concerts and guided tours to learn about this historical site.
Antelope Island State Park near Salt Lake City is a fun place to visit in the winter. The island has a varied population of wildlife: birds, coyotes, pronghorn antelope and bison! It is common to encounter any of these animals along the roads as you explore the island.
Ice skating at the Gallivan Center in with twinkling lights all around is definitely a holiday must-do activity! You can also enjoy Zoolights! at Hogle Zoo and Utah Jazz NBA games during the month of December! (Recommended by Dave & Jamie, Photo Jeepers)
Grand America Holiday Window Displays in December
Easily the most beautiful hotel in Salt Lake City, the Grand America shines even brighter during December. Each holiday season, the hotel creates decorative window art inside its main corridors to allow guests and outside visitors a chance to escape the cold while enjoying detailed works of art.
While the displays usually change from year to year, they are always a delight to look at for visitors of all ages. It’s one of the tops places to visit in Utah in the winter during the holiday season!
In addition to the displays, is a large-scale gingerbread house created by the in-house pastry chef team. They are so complex and large, that they actually require a building permit. Past designs have included the White House, a traditional cottage, and even a replica of the hotel itself.
The Grand America is located in downtown Salt Lake City and is a short walk from the 600 South TRAX station which is served by the Blue, Green, and Red TRAX lines.
While the displays are free to visit, you can add on to your visit with a stop for afternoon tea, shopping at the exquisite toy store, or enjoying a tasty treat at Bonne Vie. Grand America is one of many destinations in downtown Salt Lake that is fun for both kids and adults. (Recommended by Meggie, Parks Family Travel)
Where to Stay in Salt Lake City
Snow Skiing in Northern Utah in December
Utah is a year-round destination, but it shines exceptionally bright beginning in December when the snow-capped mountains create a skier’s paradise. The terrain in Utah is known for steep, deep powder skiing, and terrain parks.
The skiing is so good that Utah hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 2002. If you are looking for a ski trip in December, Utah, with its 21 ski resorts and over 160 chairlifts, should be at the top of your list!
Utah differs from other ski destinations because, in Utah, several mountains are strictly for skiers. Alta, for example, is a skiers-only mountain where skiers can take a “magic carpet” (aka people mover) through the Peruvian Tunnel to reach Snowbird, a challenging mountain for skiers and snowboards.
You can also find world-class skiing at the well known Park City and Deer Valley resorts. If you love snow skiing, visiting Utah in December is a must! (Recommended by Michelle, The Trav Nav)
Luxury Après-Ski at Park City and Deer Valley
It’s no secret that one of the best things to do in Utah in December is to visit the USA’s largest ski resort – Park City. Not only can you enjoy the Olympic ski slopes and winter activities in Park City, but you can also enjoy the best après-ski venues at luxury resorts.
Deer Valley’s Montage and St. Regis hotels are the best places to enjoy après-ski in the Park City area. The Après Lounge at the Montage Deer Valley is a Veuve Clicquot-themed yurt lounge with easy access to Deer Valley’s ski lifts.
At this adorable and photogenic location, you can enjoy a glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne and savor tasty small bites from a charcuterie board to a hummus platter. If you’re looking for a relaxing spot to enjoy after a day of skiing or snowboarding, this is the place for you!
For a fun après-ski party, you must visit The Vintage Room at the St. Regis Deer Valley. It’s also situated off the Deer Valley ski slopes and is a Möet-themed party. You’ll have to take the funicular to the St. Regis Upper Resort, and once you’re there, you can enjoy champagne cocktails, a DJ, and a champagne sabering ritual. (Recommended by Taylor, Brown Eyed Flower Child)
Where To Stay In Park City
Soldier Hollow in December
There are so many wonderful things to do in Utah in December, especially if you are looking for winter activities near Salt Lake City. It’s like a winter wonderland full of limitless opportunities for family fun!
A trip to Midway, Utah, will offer families the ultimate sledding experience at Soldier Hollow Nordic Center. Sledding here is a breeze, as the center provides tubes with admission, and the property even has an escalating conveyor belt that will carry sledders of all ages up the hill. This is a great feature that helps conserve energy, so no one gets winded after each run.
It’s important to note that the designed runs here are very slippery and make for a swift and thrilling ride. It’s a lot of fun to go sledding here, but all participants should be fully aware of how to stop themselves before sledding down the hill.
Soldier Hollow is a busy Utah attraction. Expect crowds and be sure to make reservations ahead of time for your timed sledding session. (Recommended by Candice, CS Ginger)
Things To Do In Southern Utah In December
In Southern Utah you will find snow activities in the higher elevations like Bryce Canyon and the Brian Head Ski Resort. Yes, it may snow in the lower elevations when a storm rolls through, but the snow on the ground won’t last long.
When there is snow, it’s a beautiful sight to see the contrast of white against the red rock landscape!
Bryce Canyon National Park in December
Due to the high elevation of Bryce Canyon (near 8,000 feet!), it will be a different experience to visit compared to the other Utah National Parks in the winter. At Bryce Canyon, 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 as well as avoid the crowds!
In December you’ll find Ranger-led programs include the Hoodoo Geology Talk and Snowshoe Hikes. You can get snowshoes at the visitor center if you don’t bring your own. This snowshoe adventure takes about 1 ½ to two hours to complete. You must be at least 8 years old to go on the hike.
After a snow storm, most of the trails 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. (Recommended by Dave & Jamie, Photo Jeepers)
Bryce Canyon Winter Lodging & Tours
Kanab in December
Winter in Kanab is a terrific time of year to visit this vacation spot in southern Utah. Some of the dirt roads in Kanab in the winter can be inaccessible and limit the places you can see.
Enjoy amazing Kanab photography 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!
An alternative to The Wave would be to visit White Pocket. We recommend booking a tour because navigating the road to get there requires a high-clearance 4WD vehicle and a level of expertise driving in deep sand.
If there’s snow, the contrast of white against the red landscape at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is stunning.
Although Kanab experiences cold temperatures and occasional snowfall during the winter months, most days are sunny and beautiful, even if they are a bit cool. Pack layers, insulated clothing, and waterproof hiking shoes. (Recommended by Dave & Jamie, Photo Jeepers)
Where to Stay in Kanab
Moab in December
If you’re looking for beautiful views of the Colorado River, ancient rock petroglyphs, and dinosaur tracks, then drive the Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway! It’s stunning in the winter with the contrast of white snow against the red rocks!
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!
Of course our favorite thing is the Moab photography around the area and in Arches & Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park at sunrise and sunset! (Recommended by Dave & Jamie, Photo Jeepers)
Moab Winter Lodging
Zion National Park in December
Zion National Park is a great Utah December destination for many reasons. The biggest benefit being the peaceful experience that not many have here. Zion is the most visited National Park in Utah, with the bulk of visitors coming during the Summer months.
Visiting this breathtaking place in the winter months gives you the freedom to explore without waiting in shuttle lines. The Zion National Park shuttles are only operational in December the week between Christmas and New Years.
Zion National Park offers a variety of experiences in December. Start your journey by driving the scenic Mount Carmel Highway with incredible views, pull off stops and a tunnel. Stop at Canyon Overlook Trail along the way for a short one-mile hike with high reward views to take in the sweeping landscape of this famous park.
Take a break from outdoor views with a visit to the Zion Human History Museum that showcases the indigenous history and timeline of this area becoming a National Park. If you are feeling adventurous, ask a ranger about the conditions at the Narrows or whether a permit is available for Angels Landing. And lastly, be sure to hang out in Springdale, Utah at the entrance to the park to check out the rock shop, coffee shops and restaurants. (Recommended by Melissa, Miss Rover)
Zion Winter Lodging
December Vacation Ideas in Utah
- Arches National Park in December
- Bryce Canyon in December
- Canyonlands National Park in December
- Capitol Reef National Park in December
- Zion National Park in December
- Utah National Parks Weather in December
Utah Bucket List
Check out even more fun Utah Bucket List ideas for your winter vacation. Be sure to download the free printable that includes ideas for things to see, do and taste all around the state! Click the image below!