One way to enjoy the spectacular landscapes without having to contend with crowds is winter hiking in Utah National Parks.
We created this list of the best winter hiking trails you’ll find at all 5 Utah National Parks.
We live just hours away from all the National Parks in Utah so we’ve been able to visit during every season and during all types of weather.
Check out our Utah National Park road trip itinerary that includes travel guides, packing checklists, and tips to help you plan your dream vacation!
Since we are able to visit these parks during all seasons and months of the year, we’ve put together a packing list for Utah National Parks. You can get a free printable by clicking the graphic below!
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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!
Utah National Parks Winter Weather
Deciding the best time to visit Utah National Parks is different for everyone.
Be sure you know the expected weather and temperatures for the parks you’ll visit in the winter months:
- Arches National Park weather
- Bryce Canyon National Park weather
- Canyonlands National Park weather
- Capitol Reef National Park weather
- Zion National Park weather
Tips for Winter Hiking at Utah National Parks
One of the best winter activities at Utah National Parks is hiking. Check with the Visitor Center about trail conditions and whether traction devices are recommended.
Winter Clothing for Hiking
All five Utah National Parks experience cold weather in the winter. Be sure to wear and pack winter clothing essentials.
- 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 jackets: Fleece 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 whether you are going for a light hike or a more extended excursion.
- 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 boots: Hiking boots need to be waterproof. You may also need traction devices for some trails.
Winter Hiking Gear
Here’s the winter hiking gear we recommend for hiking at Utah National Parks:
- Water: At least two liters of water for day hiking is recommended. Use a wide-mouth Nalgene water bottle since the narrow-mouth are prone to freeze shut more easily. A Neoprene bottle sleeve also works.
- First aid kit: No matter whether your hike is long or short, always pack a hiking first aid kit. Make sure your first aid kit has the essentials like plasters, bandages, anti-bacterial wipes, etc. Other items to pack for a winter day hike are a hiking lighter and a PLASTIC whistle.
- Headlamps: Carry a headlamp for winter hiking because there are fewer hours of daylight. Use lithium batteries for all electronic devices since they are resistant to cold temperatures.
- Snacks: Snacks are essential. Choose the ones that are easy to munch, so you can grab them to refuel your energy. Also, snacks that are high in protein and carbohydrates are strongly recommended.
Best Winter Hiking in Utah National Parks
This list includes the best hiking trails to explore at Utah National Parks in the winter.
You’ll definitely want to pack your photography gear for hiking to capture the natural beauty you’ll see as you hike through the Utah National Parks.
Winter Hiking at Arches National Park
As you explore Arches National Park winter hikes, you’ll see natural stone arches, stone pinnacles, rock fins, and large balanced rocks!
Arches Winter Weather: Arches is part of the Colorado Plateau high desert region; this area will experience enormous temperature variations by as much as 40 degrees in twenty-four hours.
In terms of Arches National Park weather, winter is cold with possible rain or snow storms. Here are the temperatures you can expect during the winter months:
- Arches in December: Highs 45 | Lows 23 degrees F
- Arches in January: Highs 44 | Lows 22 degrees F
- Arches in February: Highs 52 | Lows 35 degrees F
You won’t experience large snow storms at Arches, but even small amounts of snow or ice can make local trails and roads impassable.
In the winter the trails at Arches may be covered in snow or ice that may require traction devices for hiking.
Winter Hiking at Bryce Canyon National Park
We recommend you talk to a park ranger to get the most updated information about trail conditions for all Bryce Canyon winter hikes. Some trails close in the winter due to unsafe conditions.
- Bryce Canyon Hikes
- Best Day Hikes at Bryce Canyon National Park
- Easy Hikes at Bryce Canyon National Park
Traction devices are recommended for all winter hikes at Bryce Canyon. They can be rented in Bryce City if you don’t bring your own.
Bryce Canyon Winter Weather: You’ll be over 9,000 feet in the park which means the Bryce Canyon weather in the winter will be cold and snowy.
- Bryce Canyon in December: highs 26° F | lows 12° F
- Bryce Canyon in January: highs 36° F | lows 11° F
- Bryce Canyon in February: highs 36° F | lows 11° F
Don’t let these cold temperatures and snowy conditions deter you from visiting in the winter. With the right winter clothes and gear you will have an amazing trip to Bryce Canyon in the winter months.
Winter Hiking at Canyonlands National Park
You’ll need to be more be prepared when exploring Canyonlands winter hikes. Pack water, food, and proper clothing so you can be self-reliant. Services are limited or closed in the winter. Remember there is no gas, food or lodging at Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky or Needles Canyonlands.
Canyonlands Winter Weather: The cold Canyonlands National Park weather in the winter may not be for everyone.
- Canyonlands in December: Highs 45 | lows 23 degrees F
- Canyonlands in January: Highs 44 | lows 22 degrees F
- Canyonlands in February: Highs 52 | lows 28 degrees F
Large amounts of snow in the park are uncommon, but even small amounts of snow or ice can make the park trails and roads impassable.
In the winter after a snow storm, paved roads may close temporarily so crews can plow. Unpaved backcountry roads may be impassible for longer periods of time so check Canyonlands road conditions before you head out!
Winter Hiking at Capitol Reef National Park
Before exploring Capitol Reef winter hikes, you should talk to a park ranger to get the most updated information about trail conditions and weather.
In the winter many of the Capitol Reef services have changed hours or have closed for the season. Check the website for specific Capitol Reef operating hours.
Capitol Reef Winter Weather: In the winter the Capitol Reef National Park weather can be unpredictable with rain or snow. Here are the average temperatures you can expect at Capitol Reef in the winter:
- Capitol Reef in December: highs 39 | lows 19 degrees F
- Capitol Reef in January : highs 39 | lows 18 degrees F
- Capitol Reef in February: highs 45 | lows 23 degrees F
During the winter it is especially important to dress in layers and pack outdoor winter clothing!
Winter Hiking at Zion National Park
Don’t let the cold, wet weather deter you from enjoying winter hiking at Zion National Park. Winter is the offseason so the crowds are gone – at times we feel like we have the trails all to ourselves!
All of the hiking trails remain open year-round, but some Zion hikes in the winter can be slippery from packed snow and ice and may require traction devices and trekking poles.
Some trails may close due to bad weather and conditions like the popular Angel’s Landing. If you want to hike The Narrows, the water will be COLD and you’ll need full-body dry suits that you can rent from local outfitters.
Zion Winter Weather: Zion National Park weather in the winter means cooler days and cold nights.
- Zion in December: high 48 | low 24 degrees F
- Zion in January: high 50 | low 25 degrees F
- Zion in February: high 49 | low 25 degrees F
Angels Landing Permit: Hikers going to Angels Landing will need a permit. The National Park Service will issue permits using online lotteries at Recreation.gov.
Shuttle and Parking at Zion: From spring to fall (and during the Christmas holiday) most Zion Canyon hikes are accessible only by the Zion National Park Shuttle. Plan ahead to know the shuttle schedule and the shuttle stop near the trailhead. Be sure to arrive early to find parking at Zion National Park, especially during peak summer season!
Travel Guides for Utah National Parks
Check out our Utah National Park travel guides that detail the best things to see, do and photograph at all 5 parks!
- Arches National Park Travel Guide
- Bryce Canyon Travel Guide
- Canyonlands National Park Guide
- Capitol Reef National Park Guide
- Zion National Park Travel Guide