Best Utah Winter Vacation Spots

There are a variety of Utah winter vacation spots around the state to enjoy the snow or escape the snow. Most people think of skiing in Utah in the winter, but there are many other activities to do during this time of year!

We’ll detail a list of the best places to visit in Utah in the winter that include National Parks, State Parks, National Monuments, and other destinations to enjoy all the state has to offer.

winter vacation spots in Utah

We have lived in Utah for over 20 years and explore the state often. Winter is one of our favorite times to travel around Utah to avoid the crowds and heat of summer. It’s a terrific season to get out and enjoy nature!

Use our Utah Packing Lists to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in the winter! It’s important to be dressed for the elements so you can enjoy your time outdoors.

Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

Utah packing lists for spring summer fall and winter
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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!

What to Expect in Utah in the Winter

One thing many people don’t know is the state of Utah is usually divided into two regions: northern and southern. You’ll find Utah vacation spots located all around the state.

Salt Lake City and Park City are located in Northern Utah. St. George and all 5 Utah National Parks are in Southern Utah.

Remember that a drive from Salt Lake City in the north to any of the National Parks in the south can take 4 to 5 hours during good weather.

Expect delays or slower drive times during a winter storm! Be prepared with the food, water, and supplies you’ll need in case you’re stuck on the road due to a storm or accident. There are long stretches of road between the small towns, many with limited services. Cell service can be spotty in areas driving from northern to southern Utah as well.

Utah Winter Weather

Utah weather in the winter will be cold and snowy. The temperatures will vary between Northern and Southern Utah. The higher elevations will have more snow and temperatures will be colder than the lower elevations by 10 to 20 degrees.

December Weather

  • Northern Utah (Salt Lake City): highs 39 / lows 27 degrees F
  • Southern Utah (St. George): highs 63 / lows 40 degrees F

January Weather

  • Northern Utah (Salt Lake City): highs 39 / lows 24 degrees F
  • Southern Utah (St. George): highs 54 / lows 28 degrees F

February Weather

  • Northern Utah (Salt Lake City): highs 45 / lows 29 degrees F
  • Southern Utah (St. George): highs 59 / lows 32 degrees F

What To Wear In Utah In The Winter

If you’ll be doing any outdoor activities, we recommend at least the following:

  • Base Layers: Wicking base layers will give you the warmth you need to fight off the cold winter weather. Plus, you can take them off easily whenever you no longer need them. 
  • Fleece jacketsFleece jackets serve as a light layer on warmer days in the park but can also add warmth to your layering.
  • Insulated Jackets: Insulated jackets provide the perfect warmth for short or extended excursions. 
  • Wool socks: Do not wear cotton socks. It is best to wear wool socks for winter. Bring a spare just in case anything unexpected happens.
  • Insulated hats: An insulated hat will protect you from losing too much of your body temperature through your head.
  • Winter gloves: If it’s extremely cold, use an insulating glove inside a waterproof shell mitt to provide dexterity and warmth.
  • Waterproof hiking bootsHiking boots need to be waterproof. You may also need traction devices for some trails.

Is Winter a Good Time to Visit Utah?

If you want to explore the National Parks, we feel winter is one of the best times to visit Utah to avoid the crowds and heat of the summer. But you will have the uncertainty of weather for traveling and participating in outdoor activities.

Of course if winter sports in the snow is your thing, then yes, Utah in the Winter is amazing!!

map of utah winter vacation spots

Map of the Winter Vacation Spots in Utah

Check out the map of the best Utah winter vacation spots we put together around the state! Knowing the location of each destination will help you plan your travel itinerary.

Winter driving in Utah can be tricky – here are a few tips from the Utah Highway Patrol:

Bryce Canyon in the winter

Best Utah Winter Vacation Spots

We’ve asked our travel friends to help us put together of list of the best places to visit in Utah in the winter and things to do at those locations.

Bryce Canyon Winter Vacation

Bryce Canyon National Park in Southwestern Utah is a great winter vacation destination. The park is famous for hoodoos, or fairy chimney formations.

Bryce Canyon is a gorgeous sight during the winter. You are going to be blown away by the combination of evergreen trees, white snow, red rocks, and bright blue sky on a sunny day.

There are a few things to consider when visiting Bryce Canyon in the winter. Check the weather forecast before you go. Bryce Canyon may close temporarily after heavy snowfall.

Winters in the park could get as low as 11 °F. Try spending more time in your vehicle. The Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive is a perfect way to explore the park.

You could start your exploration from Yovimpa Point, the furthermost viewpoint. All attractions are on the east side of the canyon. You can pick viewpoints to stop on your way back.

Be careful if you choose to hike since terrain could be icy and slippery. Layer up and wear sturdy hiking shoes or even crampons to make your hike more enjoyable. Recommended by Anastasia, Travel Realist

Canyonlands in the winter
Canyonlands in the winter

Canyonlands Winter Vacation

If you’re looking for one of the best Utah winter vacation spots then you need to head to Canyonlands National Park in the winter.

Not only is there something special about seeing these red rock canyons dusted in snow, but you won’t have to deal with the crowds of the summer. 

Additionally, the majority of the park will be open and ready for exploration. The only exception is the Maze District which can close due to road conditions. The Shafer Switchbacks along the White Rim Road may also be closed since they ice over during the winter. 

However, don’t let that dampen your spirits because there is no shortage of fun things to do in Canyonlands in the winter like driving the majestic White Rim Road (just be sure to get your permit in advance). You can also do great hikes like Mesa Arch, Chesler Park Loop, Upheaval Dome, Devil’s Pocket, and Elephant Hill.  

Be sure to stop at Dead Horse Point State Park near Island in the Sky to catch the sunset at the Thelma and Loise Viewpoint. The views are absolutely stunning. Recommended by Meg, Fox in the Forest

Leprechaun Canyon
Leprechaun Canyon

Hanksville Winter Vacation

Hanksville, Utah, is one of those hidden Utah gems tucked in next to one of the Mighty Five. Located just outside of Capitol Reef National Park, you have plenty of other options to explore in the area as well.

While Hanksville does get snow in the winter, highs still average between 40 and 50 degrees F. As a bonus, you are less likely to find others visiting the popular spots near Hanksville during the winter.

Take a day to visit Capitol Reef and hike to the Hickman Bridge. Or, if the road conditions are right, drive to Cathedral Valley to see the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon as well.

Outside of the national park you can also see Factory Butte or the colorful Bentonite Hills IF the road conditions are right. You can also hike to a slot canyon without having to really get off-road at Leprechaun Canyon.

Stay at the Whispering Sands Motel and eat at Duke’s Slickrock Grill for the full Hanksville experience. Recommended by Christine, Live Love Run Travel

Coral Pink Sand Dunes in the winter
Coral Pink Sand Dunes in the winter

Kanab Winter Vacation

Winter in Kanab. Quiet, crisp, and full of amazing things to do! This unassuming spot in southern Utah, dubbed “Little Hollywood,” takes on a whole new character when the crowds thin out and the air turns crisp.

Some of the best things to do in Kanab, Utah include visiting the Moqui Sand Caves, the iconic Wave hike, Peek-a-boo Slot Canyon, Dinosaur tracks, Belly of the Dragon, Paria Townsite, Cutler Point, Toadstool Hoodoos, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, and Buckskin Gulch.

If there’s snow, the contrast of white against the red landscape at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is stunning. Some of the dirt roads in Kanab in the winter can be inaccessible and limit the places you can see.

Although Kanab experiences cold temperatures and occasional snowfall during the winter months, most days are sunny and beautiful, even if they are a bit cool. Come prepared with layers and insulated clothing. Recommended by Nicoll, Living Tiny With A Wolf

Moab in the winter with snow
Landscape Arch with snow

Moab Winter Vacation

Moab is a top Utah winter vacation spot for many good reasons. First, while other places are buried in snow, the Moab winter weather is milder. This weather makes it perfect to enjoy outdoor Moab winter activities, especially hiking. 

One must-visit spot during a trip to Moab is Arches National Park. In the winter, the iconic arches and red rock formations are often dusted with a light layer of snow, making them even more picturesque. 

Plus, the park is less crowded compared to the busy summer months. This means you can enjoy a peaceful hike and enjoy the beauty without too many distractions. 

If you’re planning a trip to Moab in winter, be sure to dress in layers since the weather can be unpredictable. And don’t forget your hiking boots to explore some of the best hiking trails in Arches National Park

All in all, Moab is hard to beat for a unique winter getaway. Recommended by Janae, Adventures With TuckNae

Park City in the winter
Park City in the winter

Park City Winter Vacation

Park City, Utah boasts the largest ski resort in the United States, so there’s no doubt it’s one of the best winter vacation spots! With an Olympic ski resort, luxury resorts, incredible restaurants, and fun winter activities, spending at least 4 days in Park City is best for experiencing it all!

Not only can you ski from various green, blue, and black diamond trails at the ski resort, but this fun winter destination also offers some of the best après-ski venues. 

Even though it comes with a price tag, The Après Lounge at the Montage Deer Valley and The Vintage Room at the St. Regis Deer Valley offer a memorable experience featuring Veuve-Clicquot and Möet-themed drinks. 

For a more down-to-earth party, No Name Saloon and High West Saloon in the downtown area will ensure you have a great time without breaking the bank. 

Other fun Utah winter activities to enjoy in Park City are visiting the Utah Ice Castles, getting a taste of Olympic sports at the Alf Engen Ski Museum, and enjoying an authentic Scandinavian meal at the resort’s Viking Yurt followed by a romantic sleigh ride experience afterward. 

Lastly, a trip to Park City is incomplete without visiting one of the many renowned restaurants this famous ski resort boasts. The best places to eat are Riverhorse on Main and Chimayo for dinner, along with Five5eeds and The Bridge Café and Grill. Recommended by Taylor, Brown Eyed Flower Child

Temple Square Christmas lights
Temple Square Christmas lights

Salt Lake City Winter Vacation

Nestled against the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains, Salt Lake City in the winter is a paradise for snow enthusiasts. Enjoy winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, snow tubing, and dog sledding in the local mountains!

The Utah Olympic Oval, used during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, is a fun way to test your speed skating skills! Or simply ice skate at the Gallivan Center with twinkling lights all around!

Temple Square is Utah’s most visited attraction. In the winter the grounds light up with over one million Christmas lights! There are seasonal concerts and guided tours to learn about this historical site.

Antelope Island State Park near Salt Lake City is a fun place to visit in the winter. The island has a varied population of wildlife: birds, coyotes, pronghorn antelope and bison! It is common to encounter any of these animals along the roads as you explore the island.

There’s also Zoolights! at Hogle Zoo, the Sundance Film Festival, Ice Castles, and the Utah Jazz NBA games happening in the winter near Salt Lake City! Recommended by Dave & Jamie, Photo Jeepers

View of Zion in the winter
Zion in the winter

Zion Winter Vacation

Zion is arguably the best national park to visit in Utah in winter. The weather is cool, but perfect for hiking (daytime temperatures will be in the 40s and 50s) and the swelling crowds of summer will be gone. 

If you have a few days to stay, be sure to do some winter hiking in Zion National Park! You will need an Angel’s Landing Permit to hike the chains section of this trail any time of year.

You can hike to Scout Lookout without a permit and this provides similar views to the iconic Angel’s Landing without hiking on an extremely narrow mountain ridge, with thousand-feet drop-offs on either side (which is especially sketchy with the wintertime ice and snow!).

Observation Point, on the other hand, is an underrated trail that provides arguably some of the best views in the park over the Zion Canyon. 

While the Narrows Hike is infamous in Zion, the water will likely be too cold and potentially even too high to hike comfortably.

Regardless, there are plenty of other awesome hikes and overlooks in the park to enjoy! Talk to the Rangers before hitting any hike in the winter so you know the trail conditions and if you’ll need tractions devices. Recommended by Jessica, Uprooted Traveler

Utah National Parks Winter Vacation

Enjoy the beautiful views and outdoor winter activities at the National Parks like hiking, photography, scenic drives, and the Winter Festival in Bryce Canyon!

You’ll also find Utah National Parks tours that provide a fun and unique way to explore the park and surrounding area.

Utah Travel Guides & Maps

Utah guides and maps

Places to Stay in Utah

Utah Bucket List

To help make your trip planning easier, we’ve compiled this comprehensive list of must-do activities that belong on every Utah Bucket List: things to see, do and taste all around the state! Grab the free download by clicking the graphic below!

utah bucket list - grab the free packet

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