Tips and Activities for Visiting Utah National Parks in the Winter

Visiting Utah National Parks in the winter is always a good idea. Visiting the national parks is a must when planning places to visit in Utah!

The best thing about winter at Utah National Parks is the solitude and serenity you’ll experience as you explore the parks.

Utah National Parks in the winter

Here’s our guide to enjoying Utah National Parks in the winter: things to do, what to pack, where to stay and more!

National Parks packing list for spring summer fall and winter
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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!

Outdoor Gear we recommend! Travel Gear & Hiking Gear

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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 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 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.

If you’re looking for the best time to visit Utah National Parks, we highly recommend you consider visiting in the winter! 

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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 Arches National Park hiking trails. Many of these remain open, but you may need traction devices.

Balanced Rock at Arches National Park

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. 

We LOVE taking photos of the red rocks and white snow in the winter. Check out our Arches & Canyonlands Itinerary and Photography Guide with tips and best times to take pictures at each point of interest

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!
Arches National Park photo spots checklist optin

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. 

You can enjoy Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky and Needles Canyonlands in the winter. There are plenty of opportunities to hike, off-road explore, bike, and photograph the amazing scenery. 

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. 

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).

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps:

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

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

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. 

Where to Stay Near Bryce Canyon:

Check Amazon for: Bryce Canyon Guides and Maps

Bryce Canyon maps and guides

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.  

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 along the Capitol Reef hikes and Capitol Reef scenic drive 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

SHOP AMAZON: Capitol Reef Travel Guides and Maps:

capitol reef guides and map

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 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!

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. 

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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