Travel Guide For Visiting Utah in December

If you’re wondering what it’s like visiting Utah in December, we’ve written this guide that includes where to go, things to do, what to pack, and where to stay.

When looking for places to visit in Utah in the winter in the month of December, it’s important to know the expected weather you may encounter this time of year at the various vacation spots around the state.

travel guide for Utah in December

We have lived in Utah for over 20 years and December is a fun time to travel! The tips we share are based on our experiences visiting various Utah locations, especially during the month of December.

December weather and temperatures will vary between Northern and Southern Utah, with those in the south about 10 degrees warmer. Keep in mind the higher elevation temperatures will be cooler than the average by 10 to 20 degrees.

There are fun Utah vacation ideas in the winter like exploring the National and State Parks. You can also still do many outdoor activities like hiking, biking, scenic drives, and photography. But you’ll need to be prepared for cold temperatures and the possibility of snow!

Use our Utah Packing Lists to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in December! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

Utah packing lists for spring summer fall and winter
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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!

Northern and Southern Utah in December

The state of Utah is usually divided into two regions: northern and southern. It’s important to keep up with road and weather conditions when visiting Utah in the winter!

You’ll find fun places to visit in Utah in December and winter activities all around the state. Here’s a quick summary of what to expect in the two main regions.

Northern Utah in December:

Salt Lake City and Park City are the largest cities in Northern Utah. You’ll find vibrant main streets and downtown centers with nightlife, festivals, historic buildings and performing arts. 

Northern Utah is also home to mountains, forests, lakes and reservoirs where you can snowshoe, snow ski, snowmobile, and ice fish during the winter. 

Southern Utah in December:

Driving from the north to Southern Utah you’ll pass small towns with limited services. Take note where the various Utah vacation spots are located around the state. A drive from Salt Lake City to any of the National Parks in the south can take 4 to 5 hours.

You’ll find all 5 Utah National Parks in Central and Southern Utah. In December the crowds begin to diminish, except for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The 5 National Parks will be busy so try to avoid that time if you can.

Before heading out to explore any of the parks, check with the visitor center for updated conditions. During the winter hiking trails may close, or may require traction devices due to ice.

There’s an equally stunning list of Utah State Parks and National Monuments around the state to hike, bike, and off-road in December.

Utah Weather in December

Here’s a summary of the average Utah weather in December around the state:

Average temperature in Northern Utah (Salt Lake City): highs 39 / lows 27 degrees F. The average December snowfall in the Northern part of Utah:

  • Salt Lake City – 7 days / 12.1 inches
  • Logan – 8.5 days / 15.8 inches
  • Provo – 5.7 days / 11.2 inches
  • Alta – 14 days / 79.8 inches
  • Park City – 9.3 days / 31.1 inches

Average temperature in Southern Utah (St. George): highs 63 / lows 40 degrees F. The average December snowfall in the Southern part of Utah:

  • Moab (Arches/Canyonlands) – 2 days / 3.5 inches
  • Bryce Canyon – 5.7 days / 15.3 inches
  • Capitol Reef – 1.8 days / 2.2 inches
  • Cedar City – 5.5 days / 13.2 inches
  • Zion – 0.6 days / 1.7 inches
  • St. George – 0.1 days / 0 inches

It’s important to know the expected weather forecast and temperatures for the parks you’ll visit in December so we’ve written detailed guides for each National Park in Utah:

Remember to stay hydrated and use sun protection, even in the winter months. Dress in layers and pack winter clothing when visiting Utah in the winter:

winter hiking gear

Is December a Good Time to Visit Utah?

One of the best times to visit Utah is December. In the north you can enjoy winter activities like snow skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.

In the south you can still enjoy activities like hiking and biking because “most of the time”, the weather isn’t snowy and daytime temperatures aren’t too cold.

The one exception is Bryce Canyon in December. Due to it’s elevation, the weather and temperatures are more aligned to what you’d experience in the northern part of the state. Expect snow, cold temperatures, and winter activities.

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!

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

Things to Do in Utah in December

If you’re planning a trip in December, here’s a fun list of things to do in Utah in December.

December Winter Activities in Utah

As December rolls around, Utah becomes a winter wonderland packed with fun-filled activities. From shredding the slopes in world-renowned ski resorts like Park City and Sundance, to ice fishing at Strawberry Reservoir, there’s a chill thrill waiting for everyone.

balanced rock with snow at Arches
Balanced Rock with snow at Arches National Park

Utah National Parks in December

All of the Utah National Parks are open year-round, and every single day in December. The Visitor Center at all five parks will have shortened hours in December, and they will be closed on Christmas Day.

Some of the National Parks in Utah now have permits to enter or do certain activities, so be sure to check about reservations required when determining the best time to visit Utah National Parks.

We’ve written specific guides about visiting Utah National Parks in December:

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in the winter
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in the winter

Utah State Parks in December

Check out this list of Utah State Parks where you can enjoy hiking, biking, climbing, photography, and stargazing. You’ve got places like Antelope Island that turns into a serene white paradise, or the snow-dusted red rock formations in Goblin Valley.

Here are a few of our favorite State Parks in Utah to visit in December:

hiking trails at Bryce Canyon in December
Hiking trails at Bryce Canyon in December

Hiking in Utah in December

In December you can enjoy snowshoeing in northern Utah and hiking in southern Utah. You may need traction devices on trails that are icy.

There are plenty of trails that offer a variety of different terrains all around the state at National parks, State parks, National forests, and Wilderness areas.

Check out these fun winter hiking ideas at Utah National Parks:

Zion national park winter
Zion Scenic Drive in the winter

Utah Scenic Drives in December

In December the Utah Scenic Drives in the lower elevations around the state are open to explore. Here’s a list of the ones we recommend for winter drives: 

mesa arch in the winter with snow
Mesa Arch in the winter with snow

Utah Photography in December

Winter is a good time of year to photograph snowy landscapes and forests in Northern Utah. In Southern Utah the contrast of snow with the red sandstone cliffs is stunning. We always hope for a bit of snow when we visit the Utah National Parks.

In December the sunrise and sunset times aren’t too early or too late. Here’s a list of our favorite sunrise and sunset photography spots around the Utah National Parks:

When it snows at these parks, you’ll get unique photos of the landscape formations with white snow!

We highly recommend rechargeable hand warmers and photographer gloves for those cold early morning sunrise outings!

Stargazing at Arches
Stargazing at Arches

Utah Stargazing in December

You won’t find a better location than Utah for stargazing! Did you know that Utah has the highest concentration of certified International Dark Sky Parks in the world!?

We definitely recommend you take time to view the night skies during your vacation. And better yet, photograph the milky way at these Utah locations!

Northern Utah Stargazing Locations:

  • Antelope Island State Park
  • Dinosaur National Monument
  • East Canyon State Park
  • Jordanelle State Park
  • North Fork Park

Southern Utah Stargazing Locations:

  • Arches National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park 
  • Dead Horse Point State Park
  • Goblin Valley State Park
  • Goosenecks State Park
  • Hovenweep National Monument
  • Natural Bridges National Monument

Utah Tours in December

You’ll find a variety of tours around Utah in December! In Park City you can enjoy snowmobile tours, ice fishing tours, dog sledding, and more!

At the Utah National Parks you can do hiking, biking, rock climbing, and off-road tours to explore the red rock landscape!

Remember, always double-check availability and safety guidelines before booking any tour.

Utah Travel Guides & Maps

Utah guides and maps

Places to Stay in Utah in December

Utah Bucket List of Things To Do

To find even MORE fun things to do in December, we’ve compiled this comprehensive list of must-do activities that belong on every Utah Bucket List: things to see, do and taste all around the state! Grab the free printable by clicking the graphic below!

utah bucket list - grab the free packet

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