Visiting Utah National Parks in the Winter

You’ll find fun things to see, do, and photograph at Utah National Parks in the winter. The national parks are must-see Utah winter vacation spots!

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: things to do, what to pack, where to stay and more!

Utah National Parks in the winter

Winter is the offseason for the five Utah National Parks so you can enjoy your vacation without the crowds you find in the summer.

There are a few exceptions: the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day will be busy, but nothing like the summer crowds. And try to avoid the MLK and President’s Day weekends that also draw visitors.

We live hours away from all five parks, and have visited them during all four seasons. Winter is our favorite time to visit the Utah National Parks because there are fewer crowds! The tips we share are based on our experiences visiting the parks during the winter months of December, January, and February.

Tip number is it be prepared for the weather when you visit. Use our packing list for Utah National Parks to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in the winter. Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

Utah National Parks packing lists
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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!

Winter Weather at Utah National Parks

All five Utah National Parks are found in the southern part of Utah. The 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. 

The Utah National Parks winter weather means highs 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. 

Be sure you know the expected weather and temperatures for the parks you’ll visit in the winter months:

Insulated layers visiting Arches National Park in the winter

What to Wear at Utah National Parks in the Winter

The National Parks in Utah are located in the southern part of the state in a high desert climate. It’s important to stay hydrated, eat salty snacks, and use sun protection all year. If you’re not used to a dry environment, you may also need to use lotion and lip balm!

Be sure you are always prepared with the right winter gear for cold temperatures, rain, or snow:

winter hiking gear

Utah National Parks in the Winter

Vising Utah National Parks should be at the top of your US National Park vacation ideas list! In the winter there are fewer people visiting which makes it easier to enjoy the beauty and outdoor activities.

The Utah National Parks in the winter are amazing if you don’t mind colder temperatures and the possibility of snow. 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. 

Have you heard about the Utah National Parks GuideAlong App? It’s a great way to have your own private guide to hear fun behind-the scenes stories and local tips that play automatically as you drive, based on your GPS location.

Skyline Arch with snow
Skyline Arch with snow

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 best hikes in Arches National Park. Many of these remain open, but you may need traction devices.

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. 

Arches National Park Winter Activities

Arches National Park Winter Lodging

Canyonlands Green River Overlook with snow

Canyonlands National Park in the Winter

If you plan to visit Canyonlands National Park in the winter, you will need to be a little more self-reliant. With many services closed in the winter, and the remote locations of each park, you will definitely want to plan ahead while visiting. 

The two popular districts to visit are:

There are plenty of opportunities to hike, off-road explore, bike, and photograph the amazing scenery at both districts.

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. The unpaved roads may remain unplowed for even longer. It is always best to check road conditions prior to entering the park. 

Canyonlands National Park Winter Activities

Canyonlands National Park Winter Lodging

Bryce Canyon in the winter

Bryce Canyon National Park in the Winter

The snowy landscape in the winter is a must-see beautiful sight at Bryce Canyon! Due to its high elevation, Bryce Canyon in the winter 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 the Bryce Canyon views. 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. 

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. 

Bryce Canyon National Park Winter Activities

Bryce Canyon National Park Winter Lodging

Capitol Reef in the winter

Capitol Reef National Park in the Winter

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. 

At Capitol Reef National Park in the winter 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.

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.

Capitol Reef National Park Winter Activities

Capitol Reef National Park Winter Lodging

Zion National Park with snow in the winter

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 when the Zion National Park Shuttle is in operation).

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 explore the Zion National Park hikes 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)! We recommend all four Zion National Park scenic drives!

Zion National Park Winter Activities

Zion National Park Winter Lodging

Utah Travel Guides & Maps

Utah guides and maps

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