Visiting Utah National Parks in the Fall

Visiting Utah National Parks in the Fall is one of the best times of the year to go.

The temperatures start to cool off a bit more throughout the day and the nighttime temperatures start to get cold.

As you add Utah vacation ideas to your bucket list, visiting the national parks is a must!

The fall is considered the busy season at Utah national parks because the weather is “just right” for outdoor activities.  

Here’s our guide to enjoying Utah National Parks in the fall.

National Park Planner free download

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What to Pack

Here’s the list of gear we recommend for a National Park trip in the fall:

→ CHECK OUT our National Park Packing Lists.

1. US National Parks Pass: You can order passes online or get them at any of these Federal Recreation Areas.

→ BUY THE PASS AT REI and they will donate 10% of sales to the National Park Foundation. 

2.  Fall Hiking Shoes: → Check out our FAVORITE hiking shoes/boots!

3. Fall Hiking Socks:  → Check out the BEST SOCKS EVER!

4. Fall Clothing for Hiking (Layers)

Wicking and quick-drying base layers

Fleece jacket (Columbia is the BEST!)

Rain jacket

5. Daypack

6. WATER:  → We carry water bottles or hydration backpacks

7. FOOD:  → Check out our favorite healthy snacks

8. Flashlight:  → Check out the headlamps we like

9. National Park maps

10. Female urination device

11. Toilet paper (carry out in a bag – do not bury)

12. Hand sanitizer

13. First aid kit

14. Bags to pack out trash

15. Camera Gear – DOWNLOAD our Camera Gear Checklist

16. Photography gear for hiking

Fall Weather

Fall weather in Southern Utah is perfect for exploring the National Parks. While visiting you will see days starting to cool down from the intense summer heat. Expect warm days, but nighttime temperatures will start to cool down as the months progress.

Temperatures at Utah National Parks in the fall:

Arches: September highs 85, lows 54; October highs 71, lows 41; November highs 55, lows 29 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bryce Canyon: September highs 69, lows 37; October high 57, lows 27 and November highs 44, lows 18 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Canyonlands: September highs 84, lows 51; October highs 70, lows 38; November highs 55, lows 27.

Capitol Reef: September highs 79, lows 52; October highs 65, lows 41; November highs 50, lows 28.

Zion: September highs 78, lows 48; October highs 66, lows 39; November highs 56, lows 31.

You’ll want to have a fleece jacket, warm hat and gloves handy for early mornings and late evenings, especially toward late fall!

Utah National Parks in the Fall

Visiting Utah National Parks in the Fall is a great time to go because the weather is so nice for outdoor fun! 

When you’re trying to decide the best time to visit Utah National Parks, remember that fall is still a busy season for the parks in Utah.

During September and October the roads, hiking trails and parking lots typically fill to capacity. Typically by November, things start to wind down and crowds begin to thin.

Arches National Park

Arches in the Fall is an amazing time for hiking, exploring the scenic drive, and taking pictures

Turret Arch through North Window at Arches

Other things you will want to do while visiting are:

  • Backpacking
  • Biking
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Junior Ranger Program
  • Photography – Check out this guide to Photographing Arches
  • Ranger-Led programs
  • Stargazing- Don’t miss checking out the amazing night skies! 
  • Visitor Center

3 Day Arches Photography Guide!

Plan Your Arches Vacation:

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. You’ll find restaurants and places to shop which adds to the appeal to find accommodations in 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: Places to stay near Arches National Park in Moab

  • 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!

Canyonlands National Park

There is a reason that Canyonlands National Park in the Fall is one of the most popular times of the year to visit. 

Mesa Arch sunrise at Canyonlands

The temperatures are “just right” for enjoying the hiking, biking, scenic drive and 4×4 trails in the park. 

With the park broken up into sections, you will want to plan your trip out accordingly to ensure that you see everything and do everything you would like on your trip.

Keep in mind Canyonlands Island in the Sky is 30 miles from Moab, Utah. And Needles Canyonlands is about 75 miles away and takes 1.5 hours to drive there.

While in the park you will want to take advantage of:

  • Auto tour
  • Backpacking
  • Biking
  • Camping
  • Climbing
  • Hiking 
  • Junior Ranger Program
  • Ranger-led programs
  • Stargazing
  • Visitor Center

Plan Your Canyonlands Vacation

Where to Stay Near Canyonlands Island in the Sky

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

Island in the Sky Campgrounds

Places to stay near Canyonlands National Park in Moab

  •  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).

Bryce Canyon National Park

Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in the Fall you will want to be prepared for colder temperatures due to the high elevation.

Attractions like ATVing, horseback riding, and rock climbing are beginning to wrap up during the fall months.   

Of course, you will want to bring your camera and take some of the most mesmerizing photos of Bryce Canyon as well as hike the beautiful trails while visiting.   

With so many things to do at Bryce Canyon, you are guaranteed to have an incredible experience while visiting. 

  • Auto tour
  • Backpacking
  • Biking
  • Camping
  • Climbing
  • Hiking 
  • Horseback riding
  • Junior Ranger Program
  • Photography – Check out these Bryce Canyon Photo Spots
  • Ranger-led programs
  • Stargazing
  • Visitor Center

Plan Your Bryce Canyon Vacation

Where to Stay near Bryce Canyon:

Capital Reef National Park

Capital Reef is a landscape filled with cliffs, canyons, and domes. There are so many things to do at Capitol Reef in the fall!

Fruita at Capitol Reef in the fall

The best thing about fall is picking fruit in the orchards!! Check the website for the harvesting times for each type of fruit. Typically you’ll be able to pick peaches and pears from August to September and apples from September to October

And of course don’t forget about the Capitol Reef hikes and exploring the scenic drive.

  • Auto tours
  • Backpacking
  • Camping
  • Fruit picking in the orchards (seasonal)
  • Gifford House treats
  • Hiking
  • Horseback riding
  • Junior Ranger Program
  • Photography
  • Ranger Led Programs
  • Rock climbing
  • Stargazing
  • Visitor Center

Places to Stay Near Capitol Reef

  • Capitol Reef Resort – this is where we stay! Make it a unique experience and stay in a teepee or covered wagon!
  • Austin’s Chuckwagon Motel – basic rooms and cabins with a deli and store right on the property which is so convenient!
  • VRBO Vacation Rentals – we like finding a place with a kitchen so we can prepare our own food.
  • RV Share Rentals – enjoy the convenience of having an RV delivered to you at Capitol Reef!

Zion National Park

Zion National Park in the fall is amazing! It will still be crowded but at least the temperatures will be more bearable than summer!

Zion is known for its amazing hiking trails – we even have a list of Zion hikes without the shuttle! And don’t forget there are FOUR stunning scenic drives you can’t miss!

Take part in these other activities while visiting Zion:

  • Auto tours
  • Backpacking
  • Bicycling
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Horseback riding
  • Junior Ranger Program
  • Museum
  • Photography
  • Ranger-led activities
  • Stargazing
  • Visitor Center

Plan Your Zion Vacation

Where to Stay Near Zion

You definitely want to stay in Springdale which borders the entrance to Zion. Here are a few of our favorite places to stay close 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. 
  • Rent an RV – have it dropped off at your vacation destination!
national park packing lists

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