Visiting Utah National Parks in the winter is always a good idea.
As you add Utah vacation ideas to your bucket list, visiting the national parks is a must!
The best thing about winter at Utah National Parks is the solitude and serenity you’ll experience as you explore the parks.
Here’s our guide to enjoying Utah National Parks in the winter:
- What to Pack for a National Park Trip in the Winter
- Winter Weather in Utah
- Things to Do at Utah National Parks in the Winter
- Where to Stay Near National Parks in Utah
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WHAT TO PACK FOR A NATIONAL PARK TRIP IN THE WINTER
1. US National Parks Pass
2. Hiking Gear
- Waterproof hiking boots or shoes – Merrell Moab are our FAVORITE!
- Insulated boots
- Heavy wool socks – we LOVE Darn Tough Socks!
- Walking stick or trekking poles
3. Clothing – Layers
- Wicking and quick-drying base layers
- Fleece or insulated jacket
- Wool, down or heavy-weight insulated jacket
- Waterproof rain jacket
- Insulating hat
- Insulating winter gloves
- Fleece neck gaiter or buff
- WATER – water bottles or hydration backpack
- FOOD – healthy snacks
- Flashlight or headlamp
- National Park maps
- Lip protection with sunscreen
- Polarized sunglasses
- Hand lotion
- Toilet paper (carry out in a bag – do not bury)
- Hand sanitizer
- First aid kit
- Bags to pack out trash
Winter Weather in Utah
Winter weather in Southern Utah is a bit milder than other parts of the state. But of course, you will still see cooler days and chilly nights. You will have rainstorms as well as some snowstorms in Southern Utah throughout the winter.
In the winter you can expect highs in the winter to be between 43 degrees to 46 degrees Fahrenheit and the lows to hover around the mid-20s.
In December Southern Utah sees highs averaging around 43 degrees and dipping down around 22 degrees Fahrenheit.
January you will see about the same temperatures in the weather with an occasional cooler or warmer night.
As February comes you will see the highs and lows rising a bit to 46 degrees and then lows around 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
You want to make sure you are always prepared while visiting with the right winter gear.
Utah National Parks in the Winter
Vising Utah National Parks in the Winter is one of our favorite times to go.
There are fewer people visiting and there is still so much to do and see.
If you’re looking for the best time to visit Utah National Parks, we highly recommend you consider visiting in the winter!
Arches National Park in the Winter
The park will be peaceful as you will find the crowds are pretty much gone which allows you to really explore the park at your own pace.
Arches National Park in the winter is breathtaking. You will find temperature highs around 30 to 50 degrees and the lows between 0 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
While visiting you will want to watch the park orientation film in the visitor center and allow your kids to earn their Junior Ranger badge.
Even in the winter months, you will want to take advantage of the hiking trails at Arches. Many of these remain open throughout the winter months.
Right after it snows you might find that the park roads are closed while they plow.
You want to be careful because the park, as well as the roads and parking lots, can be icy long after it snows.
Before going on the roads in the park it is always best to visit the visitor center for the most current road conditions in the park.
→ Check the Arches NPS website for more information about visiting in the winter.
- Arches National Park Travel Guide
- Arches & Canyonlands 3 Day Itinerary
- Arches in the Fall
- Arches in the Winter
- Arches National Park Hiking Trails
- Arches Packing List
- Where to Stay in Moab Near Arches
- Tours Near Moab, Utah
Where to Stay Near Arches:
- 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. → Book the Purple Sage via Airbnb
- 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.
Bryce Canyon National Park in the Winter
Bryce Canyon in the winter is a must-see beautiful sight! Due to its high elevation, It certainly will be COLDER than the summer with the winter temperatures ranging from the highs around 36 degrees to the lows in the low teens. But it is worth the cooler temperatures to see the park with no crowds and it covered in snow.
While visiting in the winter you will want to find all the best locations to photograph Bryce Canyon. Be sure to not miss the sunrise on the rim between Sunrise Point and Bryce Point.
Throughout the winter you will have ranger-led snowshoeing trips as well as geology talks and telescopes. There are so many great winter hikes at Bryce Canyon as well as opportunities to cross country ski in the park.
You don’t want to miss the epic stargazing while visiting, but it will be cold so wear warm winter clothes!
After a snowstorm, some of the roads within the park do stay closed for several hours while they wait to get plowed, but they try to open the parking lots and the roads to Bryce Inspiration, Sunset, and Sunrise Point immediately after a storm.
Fairyland Raod and Paria View Road are never plowed to allow you a place to ski and snowshoe while visiting.
→ Check the Bryce Canyon NPS website for more information about visiting in the winter.
- Bryce Canyon Travel Guide
- Bryce Canyon Photo Spots
- Bryce Canyon in the Fall
- Bryce Canyon in the Winter
- Navajo Loop Queen’s Garden Trail at Bryce Canyon
- Bryce Canyon Tours
Where to Stay near Bryce Canyon:
• Best Western Ruby’s Inn – easy access right outside the park
• Best Western Plus – also right outside the park
Canyonlands National Park in the Winter
Canyonlands National Park is one of the Utah National Parks that you may need to be a little more self-reliant while visiting. With many services closed in the winter, and the remote locations of each park, you will definitely want to plan ahead while visiting.
Canyonlands Island in the Sky near Moab is located atop the mesa at a higher elevation, so it can be impacted a bit more by weather. Check the website for current conditions.
After a snowstorm, you can expect the roads to be closed while they plow so they are driveable again.
On the unpaved roads, you can expect them to remain unplowed for even longer.
It is always best to check road conditions prior to entering the park.
→ Check the Canyonlands NPS website for more information about visiting in the winter.
- Tips for Visiting Canyonlands National Park
- Things to Do at Canyonlands Island in the Sky
- Visit Needles Canyonlands
- Arches & Canyonlands 3 Day Itinerary
- Where to Stay Near Canyonlands
- TOURS Near Canyonlands
Capitol Reef National Park
Capital Reef National Park is a family-friendly park located a few minutes west of the quaint town of Torrey, right in the middle of Southern Utah.
In the winter months, you can expect very little rain and snow, but be prepared for the storms when they do roll through. Average winter temperatures range from 20s in the morning and evening and 40s in the daytime.
Since the daytime weather is mild you can backpack, camp, hike and mountain bike throughout the year during the winter months. You can expect quiet and solitude which is so nice!
There are only two programs available at the national park during the winter: Geology Talk and the Junior Ranger Program.
One thing to note: the lodging and services available in the nearby towns can be very limited during the winter! You’ll find things open, just not as much variety as you find during the busy summer season.
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!
- Airbnb Rentals near Capitol Reef – we like finding a place with a kitchen so we can prepare our own food.
Zion National Park in the Winter
Visiting Zion National Park in the winter is one of the best times to go. The crowds will be gone and the temperatures will be cooler so that you can really enjoy your time in the park without feeling rushed. (Avoid the winter holidays as those are highly visited times).
Temperatures at Zion in the winter will hover in the 40s and 50s as the highs and dip all the way to the 20s as the lows at night.
Winter is a terrific time to hike the trails in Zion and take in all the incredible views within the park.
A must-do activity is driving through Zion Canyon since it’s only open to cars during the winter months (except holidays)! Don’t forget to drive along Highway 9 and Kolob Canyons as well.
Zion is an incredible choice for your winter vacation that you will not regret.
Highway 9 and Zion Canyon are the main access roads to Zion National Park. If any part of these roads get snow, they are plowed quickly.
Kolob Canyon Road is usually open throughout the whole winter. There may be times that it will close while they wait for the road to be plowed.
Kolob Terrace Road is usually closed throughout the winter months.
→ Check the Zion NPS website for more information about visiting in the winter.
- Zion National Park Travel Guide
- Zion Hiking Trails
- Zion National Park in the Summer
- Zion National Park in the Fall
- Zion National Park in the Winter
- Zion National Park Tours
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.