It’s all about the weather when deciding the best time of year to plan a Utah National Parks vacation.
This article details the Utah National Parks weather in January and what you can expect at each park.
It’s important to know the expected temperatures, weather, services available, things to do, what to pack, and where to stay at Utah National Parks in January.
In order to determine the best time to visit Utah National Parks, you need to know what it’s like visiting all five parks at various times of the year so you can decide which season and month is best for you to plan your vacation.
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Packing List for January at Utah National Parks
Hiking boots should be warm and waterproof. No one wants soggy feet!
Visiting Utah National Parks in January
The national parks are must-see places to visit in Utah! The best thing about a January vacation to see the Utah National Parks is the solitude and serenity you’ll experience during the off-season.
You’ll find fun things to see, do, and photograph at Utah National Parks in the winter. But some activities may be a bit more limited due to cold or snowy conditions!
When planning a Utah National Park road trip it’s important to be up-to-date with current weather and road conditions!
Use these resources to plan your vacation:
- Arches National Park travel guide
- Bryce Canyon travel guide
- Canyonlands National Park guide
- Capitol Reef National Park guide
- Zion National Park travel guide
Utah National Parks Weather in January
For us, January is one of the best months to visit Utah National Parks to avoid the crowds you’ll find in the spring and fall or the heat of the summer!
Here’s what you can expect at each of the 5 Utah National Parks in the month of January.
Arches National Park Weather in January
Here’s what you can expect when visiting Arches National Park in January:
In January the Arches National Park weather is cold and can be unpredictable if a storm rolls through. The average highs are near 40 degrees with the lows near 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
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.
Usually Arches National Park doesn’t see large amounts of snow in January. But it’s common to get a dusting of snow, or even a few inches of snow, when storms roll through the area.
The snow is a terrific contrast with the red rocks for Arches National Park photography!
The Arches National Park scenic drive might be closed after a snowfall for several hours for plowing. Park roads, parking lots, and pullouts can still be icy, especially in shaded areas. Check at the visitor center for the latest information on road conditions in the park.
Most of the Arches National Park hiking trails remain open year-round. You may find there are parts of the Delicate Arch trail and Devil’s Garden trail that can be slippery from packed snow and ice and may require traction devices and trekking poles.
If you want to do Arches National Park winter camping, all camping sites at Devil’s Garden Campground are first-come, first served.
There are RV parks near Arches National Park open in the winter if you’re looking for a campground with more amenities than Devil’s Garden Campground in the park.
Bryce Canyon Weather In January
Here’s what you can expect when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in January:
You can’t beat visiting Bryce Canyon without the crowds and the offseason rates in the winter. Yes there will be snow at Bryce Canyon in January, but that’s what makes it magical! If you’re not a fan of exploring the outdoors in cold weather or snowy conditions, then you should probably skip visiting this park in January.
The main Bryce Canyon scenic drive could be closed due to weather and road conditions, which means you’ll only be able to see the amphitheater section of the park.
But the amphitheater has some of the best Bryce Canyon views and photo spots to capture stunning winter landscape photography.
You can enjoy Bryce Canyon winter activities like hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. When you visit in January you’ll find ranger-led programs at Bryce Canyon include the Hoodoo Geology Talk and Snowshoe Hikes. You can get snowshoes at the visitor center if you don’t bring your own. This snowshoe adventure takes about 1 ½ to two hours to complete. You must be at least 8 years old to go on the hike.
There are many Bryce Canyon winter hikes to explore, but you may need snowshoes or traction devices. Keep in mind the Wall Street side of the Navajo Loop is closed, but the Two Bridges side of the Navajo Loop remains open. We love the Navajo Loop Queen’s Garden trail for down-and-back hiking to explore the canyon below the rim. The Rim Trail between Inspiration and Bryce Points will also be closed in January.
Even with the snow and cold, you can enjoy Bryce Canyon winter camping! Only loop A of North Campground is open in the winter months. It is first come, first serve.
You can also opt to enjoy a Bryce Canyon National Park RV vacation instead of camping.
Canyonlands Weather In January
Here’s what you can expect when visiting Canyonlands National Park in January:
Visitor services are reduced at Canyonlands in the winter. You’ll need to be more self-reliant when visiting either Island in the Sky or Needles. Remember that both areas of the park are remote locations so always be prepared with water, food and proper clothing so you can be self-reliant.
The Canyonlands National Park weather is unpredictable in the winter. January is the second-snowiest month at Canyonlands National Park. When it does snow, it’s not usually large amounts. When a storm rolls through, the park can get a dusting of snow, or even a few inches.
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. Check to make sure the Island in the Sky scenic drive is open after a snow storm.
The snow creates a beautiful contrast with the red rocks for Canyonlands National Park photography!
If you want to do Canyonlands winter camping, all camp sites are first-come, first served.
There are RV parks near Canyonlands National Park open in the winter if you’re looking for a campground with more amenities than the campgrounds in the park.
Capitol Reef Weather In January
Here’s what you can expect when visiting Capitol Reef National Park in January:
The visitor center is open daily, but will be closed on New Year’s Day. The Gifford House Store and Museum is closed in the winter.
The Capitol Reef National Park weather in January will be cold, and you may encounter snow. Expect highs around 39 and lows around 18 degrees Fahrenheit.
In January the Capitol Reef scenic drive is a must-do activity to see and photograph the cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges!
If you’re up for adventure, you can explore the Cathedral Valley District or Waterpocket District of Capitol Reef. They are remote, rugged regions that requires vehicles with high ground clearance. In the winter you may need four-wheel drive depending on road and weather conditions.
You’ll find a variety of day hikes in Capitol Reef National Park for all levels of hiker.
We highly recommend Capitol Reef National Park photography at sunrise. Yes, it will be cold, but if you’ve got photographer gloves and rechargeable hand warmers, then you should be good! Our favorite sunrise spots are Panorama Point and Sunset Point.
If you want to do Capitol Reef National Park winter camping, all camp sites at the Fruita Campground are first-come, first served.
There are RV parks near Capitol Reef National Park open in the winter if you’re looking for a campground with more amenities than what you’ll find in the park.
Zion National Park Weather In January
Here’s what you can expect when visiting Zion National Park in January:
The best thing about visiting in January is you can drive your car through Zion Canyon and not worry about riding the Zion National Park shuttle, except around New Years and during the Martin Luther King holiday weekend!
Zion National Park weather can be unpredictable so be prepared for sunny, rainy, snowy days in January. The days and nights are definitely cooler this time of year at Zion. In January the highs are usually around 54 degrees and the lows hover around 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Normally Zion does not see a lot of snow, only about 5 inches a year in the park. After a snow storm the roads, parking lots, and trails could be wet, snowy, or icy so be prepared with the right clothing and shoes!
All four Zion National Park scenic drives are open in the winter, but when a storm rolls through, they may close if conditions are bad so always check the park service website for updated road conditions. The upper part of the Kolob Terrace Road, including Lava Point, closes in the winter. Kolob Canyons regularly closes during inclement weather.
On some Zion National Park hikes you may encounter ice, snow, and mud in shady areas of the trails because January is the coldest month of the year and the wet areas don’t always dry out. You may need traction devices on some trails. And some trails may close due to bad conditions. Check with the visitor’s center for the most current trail conditions.
You’ll need an Angels Landing permit if you plan to hike that trail in January.
We often wish for snow when we take our January trip to Zion. The landscape of colorful rocks with white snow is so pretty for Zion National Park photography!
If you want to do winter camping in Zion National Park, the Watchman Campground is the only one open year-round, but has reduced availability.
There are RV parks near Zion National Park open in the winter if you’re looking for a campground with more amenities than what you’ll find in the park.