Are you wondering what it’s like to visit Zion National Park in January?
Zion in the winter is one of our favorite times to go.
Visiting Zion National Park should be at the top of your bucket list, but a trip in January will be extra special!
Use this guide to help you decide if a January vacation to Zion is the right time for you to enjoy outdoor winter adventures at this park.
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WHAT TO PACK FOR A NATIONAL PARK TRIP IN THE WINTER
1. US National Parks Pass
2. Hiking Gear
- Waterproof hiking boots or shoes – Merrell Moab are our FAVORITE!
- Insulated boots
- Heavy wool socks – we LOVE Darn Tough Socks!
- Walking stick or trekking poles
3. Clothing – Layers
- Wicking and quick-drying base layers
- Fleece or insulated jacket
- Wool, down or heavy-weight insulated jacket
- Waterproof rain jacket
- Insulating hat
- Insulating winter gloves
- Fleece neck gaiter or buff
- WATER – water bottles or hydration backpack
- FOOD – healthy snacks
- Flashlight or headlamp
- National Park maps
- Lip protection with sunscreen
- Polarized sunglasses
- Hand lotion
- Toilet paper (carry out in a bag – do not bury)
- Hand sanitizer
- First aid kit
- Bags to pack out trash
Where to Stay Near Zion
You definitely want to stay in Springdale which borders the entrance to Zion. Here are a few of our favorite places to stay close 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.
Airbnb 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.
TOP REASON TO VISIT ZION IN JANUARY
In January you can drive your car through Zion Canyon and not worry about riding the shuttle!
In the winter you often have the parking lots and trails to yourself! It’s heaven!
All of the hiking trails at Zion National Park remain open year-round.
But… there are some trails that can be slippery from packed snow and ice and may require traction devices and trekking poles.
And 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 drysuits that you can rent from local outfitters.
If you’re ok with the possibility of missing out on these two famous hikes, then you should definitely visit Zion in January!
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE GOING
Does the Shuttle Run in January?
The park shuttle buses don’t run in the winter EXCEPT during the holidays: the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day and on Presidents’ Day weekend.
Weather at Zion in January
The days and nights are definitely cooler this time of year at Zion. In January the highs are usually around 50 degrees and the lows hover around 25 degrees Fahrenheit. With the right winter clothing, you will still be able to enjoy yourself even with the cooler weather.
Does it Snow at Zion?
Zion is located in Southern Utah. Normally they do not see a lot of snow. They may see up to 5 inches a year in the park.
Does Zion National Park Close in January?
Zion National Park is open all year long. It is open every day of the year.
Can you drive through Zion National Park in January?
January is one of the least crowded months to visit Zion. One of the benefits is that you can drive your car through Zion Canyon.
Access to the upper part of the Kolob Terrace Road, including Lava Point, closes in the winter. Access to Kolob Canyons regularly closes in inclement weather. Driving conditions can be very poor during a storm, but roads are usually plowed quickly after.
SCENIC DRIVES IN JANUARY
In January you are able to drive the various roads in Zion National Park. The Zion Canyon road is only open to cars from November to March so you definitely want to take advantage of this opportunity. On the 6.5 mile drive, you will see the most incredible rock formations.
The Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and Tunnel is a must-drive! The tunnel is 1.1 miles long and the elevation gain is 800 feet. Driving along Highway 9 from Zion Canyon to the east entrance is breathtaking, especially if there’s snow! Take advantage of the pullouts to stop and take photos, or even take a hike.
We enjoy driving the Kolob Terrace road that’s accessed west of Springdale in the town of Virgin. You’ll see a different side of Zion there. Check road conditions in January because the road does access higher elevations.
HIKING IN JANUARY
Hiking at Zion in January is very enjoyable when the sun is out. It’s quite different from summer when you’re sweating and worrying about heat exhaustion.
Remember it’s still important to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen in the winter!
Keep in mind you may encounter ice, snow and mud in shady areas of the trails because January is the coldest month of the year at the park 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.
Also, It gets darker earlier at Zion in January, which may limit the time you spend hiking.
PHOTOGRAPHY 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!
The best times to photograph the park are sunrise and sunset. The colors are vibrant and the light creates a spectacular glow on the red rocks that cannot be missed.
VIEW WILDLIFE IN JANUARY
January is a great time to see wildlife in the park like deer, elk, and Bighorn sheep.
We’ve always had good success seeing the Bighorn sheep when driving Highway 9, so keep your eyes open during that drive!
What is the Best Time to Visit Zion?
ALWAYS remember to check the forecast and road conditions because conditions change from day to day, and don’t follow a set pattern.
From our experience, Zion in January is cold. Those cold temperatures mean anything wet stays wet or becomes icy, which aren’t ideal for hiking. You may need traction devices along some trails when hiking at Zion in the winter, and especially in January.
Plan a Trip to Zion National Park
- Zion National Park Travel Guide
- Zion Hiking Trails
- Zion National Park in the Summer
- Zion National Park in the Fall
- Zion National Park in the Winter
Winter Vacation Ideas
- List of Winter Vacation Ideas
- List of US National Parks in the Winter
- Visiting US National Parks in December
- Visiting US National Parks in January
- Visiting US National Parks in February
- National Park Packing Lists for Winter
- Winter Clothing Guide for Outdoor Travel