Plan a Vacation to Utah National Parks in January

Visiting Utah National Parks in January is a unique time of year to plan a vacation. As you add places to visit in Utah to your bucket list, visiting the national parks in the state is a must!

At many US National Parks in January, it’s the off season so you can enjoy your vacation without the crowds you find in the summer.

Utah National Parks in January

Here’s our guide to planning a January vacation to Utah National Parks: services available, weather, what to pack, where to stay and things to do!

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National Park Packing List

When you are visiting US National Parks it is important to be prepared. This includes wearing the proper clothes and shoes to be comfortable for the climate and the terrain.

→ CHECK OUT: National park 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!

Utah National Parks in January

We always recommend visiting National Parks in January when it’s the off-season for many destinations. The Utah National Parks in the winter are amazing if you don’t mind colder temperatures and the possibility of snow.

Here’s what you can expect when you plan a January trip to the five National Parks in Utah.

Are Utah National Parks open year-round?

All of the Utah National Parks are open every single day. With that being said, not all the visitor centers and amenities are open throughout the whole park during the winter.

Some of the National Parks in Utah require you to be a little more self-reliant. You will want to check each individual park for closures and services before visiting. 

Arches in January

Winter is a great time to visit Arches National Park. The average highs are near 40 degrees with the lows near 20 degrees. Remember that Arches National Park is located at 5,653 feet above sea level so it does get cold in the winter, even if the sun is out.

Balanced Rock at Arches National Park

Our favorite thing about Arches National Park in January is that the crowds are pretty much gone. We then get to really enjoy the park at our own pace. 

This especially comes in handy when trying to take pictures of the iconic rock formations within the park. In January you won’t need to wait for people to move when photographing the popular areas like Delicate Arch or the Windows.

Use our Arches & Canyonlands Itinerary and Photography Guide with tips and best times to take pictures at each point of interest

Many of the Arches National Park hiking trails remain open throughout January giving you lots of options to see explore the park. 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. Hiking boots should be warm and waterproof. No one wants soggy feet!

Where to Stay Near Arches:

Arches National Park camping can only be done at the one small campground. There are no hotels in Arches so most people stay in the nearby town of Moab. There are all types of lodging in and near Moab from budget-friendly hotels to higher-prices resorts. You’ll also find vacation rentals, a hostel, campgrounds and RV parks

READ OUR FULL GUIDE: Where to Stay Near Arches National Park

  • Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Moab – we enjoyed our stay and highly recommend this hotel due to its location close to Arches.
  • 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!
  • Vacation Rentals – we really like rentals with a kitchen, washer and dryer and amenities like a swimming pool and hot tub.
  • Rent an RV – have it dropped off at your vacation destination!

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps:

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

Canyonlands in January

Visiting Canyonlands National Park in January requires a little more work on your behalf. This is because several of the amenities are closed throughout the park during the week. 

Mesa Arch at Canyonlands in the winter with snow

There are so many Canyonlands hikes, off-road trails, and views to photograph at both regions: Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky and Needles Canyonlands.

The average highs are near 40 degrees with the lows near 20 degrees. Remember that Island in the Sky is located at 6,100 feet above sea level, and Canyonlands Needles is 5,920 so it does get cold in the winter, even if the sun is out.

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.

Where to Stay Near Canyonlands Island in the Sky

There are no lodging facilities in the park, only camping.

  •  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).
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Bryce Canyon in January

Bryce Canyon National Park in January is the coldest park of all 5 in Utah due to its elevation. January usually brings the coolest temperatures of the year averaging between 36 degrees Fahrenheit and 11 degrees Fahrenheit.  

With the right winter clothing, you can enjoy all the winter activities at the park! 

Some of the Bryce Canyon activities you’ll want to do include the Bryce Canyon hikes (with snowshoes!) and Bryce Canyon scenic drive!

The big draw at this park are the Bryce Canyon views and photo spots. In January the snow-covered landscape is just breathtaking!

Check out our Bryce Canyon photography guide with tips and best times to take pictures at each viewpoint!

Where to Stay Near Bryce Canyon:

Check Amazon for: Bryce Canyon Guides and Maps

Bryce Canyon maps and guides

Capital Reef in January

Capitol Reef National Park in January means temperatures with highs around 39 and lows around 18 degrees Farenheit. The weather during January will be cold, and you may encounter snow.

Capitol Reef hikes are a big attraction at this park. Our favorites are Hickman Bridge and Cassidy Arch. In the winter we recommend exploring the Capitol Reef scenic drive as well!

Photographing the amazing landscape at Capitol Reef is one of our favorite things to do. We recommend Panorama Point and Sunset Point for sunrise photography and Panorama Point, Sunset Point and along the scenic drive to capture the reflected light on the canyon walls for sunset photography.

Grab our Capitol Reef Photography Guide that will tell you when and where to get the best sunrise, morning, sunset and nighttime pictures at the park!

Places to Stay Near Capitol Reef

SHOP AMAZON: Capitol Reef Travel Guides and Maps:

capitol reef guides and map

Zion National Park in January

Zion National Park in January is epic, especially if it snows! The highs are usually around 50 degrees and the lows hover around 25 degrees Fahrenheit. 

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All four Zion National Park scenic drives are open to cars in January. The Zion Canyon road is a 6.5-mile drive that you can take to see breathtaking views and rock formations at your own pace.

Definitely explore a few Zion National Park hikes. With so many options you will be sure to find a hike that fits your ability and your mood. 

The best times to photograph the park are sunrise and sunset. The colors are vibrant and the light creates a spectacular glow on the red rocks that cannot be missed.

Check out our Zion National Park Photography Guide that lists all the best photo spots and the best time of day for each spot!

Where to Stay Near Zion National Park

You definitely want to stay in Springdale which borders the entrance to Zion.

  • Holiday Inn Express – our favorite place to stay with an outdoor pool and amenities you’d find in a high end hotel
  • Zion Lodge – we haven’t had a chance to stay here yet, but you can’t go wrong staying right IN the park!
  • Under Canvas Zion – if you want to experience a less crowded part of Zion, this is the place! It’s in the Kolob section of the park.
  • Vacation Rentals in Springdale – you’ll want to stay in Springdale so you’re close to the park entrance and can walk to shopping and restaurants. 

Resources for camping near Zion:

BUY AT AMAZON: Zion National Park Guides and Maps

Zion national park guides and maps

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