What to Expect at Zion National Park in January

Are you wondering what it’s like to visit Zion National Park in January? There are some things you need to know: what to pack, things to do, and where to stay.

Use this Zion National Park travel guide to help you decide if a January vacation is the right time for you to enjoy outdoor winter adventures at this park.

things to do at Zion National Park in January

Zion National Park is an amazing place to explore and photograph the colorful cliffs and canyons you’ll see here.

But it’s important to know the services available, weather, and road conditions to expect when visiting in January.

Check out these Zion National Park winter photos to inspire you to plan a trip during this time of year!

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What to Pack for Zion National Park

DOWNLOAD: Zion National Park packing list for summer and winter!

A Photo Tour of Zion National Park

Take a visual tour through Zion National Park to see the stunning landscapes you’ll see when you visit!

Visiting Zion National Park in January

Zion is the most-visited Utah National Park and it gets crowded during the peak seasons of spring, summer and fall.

In January you can drive your car through Zion Canyon and not worry about riding the shuttle, except around New Years and during the Martin Luther King holiday weekend!

In the winter you often have the parking lots and trails to yourself! It’s heaven!

All of the Zion National Park hikes 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!

Does the Shuttle Run in January?

The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to private vehicles during the shuttle season. Typically, the Zion National Park shuttle are running March through November, weekends in February, and the week between major holidays in December. Visit the Zion NPS website to get information on tickets.

Weather at Zion in January

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. 

You’ll want an insulted jacket, fleece jacket, warm hat and gloves so you can enjoy the outdoor activities at the park. With the right winter clothing, you will still be able to enjoy yourself even with the cold weather. 

Does it Snow at Zion in January?

Yes and No! 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. 

But when it does snow at Zion, it’s such a treat to see! The contrast of the colorful rocks with the white snow is just beautiful.

The roads, parking lots and trails could be wet, snowy, or icy after a snow storm so be prepared with the right clothing and shoes!

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. 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. Driving conditions can be very poor during a storm, but roads are usually plowed quickly after.

What Services Are Available in January?

Zion National Park is open all year long and it’s open every day of the year. The Zion National Park Shuttle only runs during the last week of December through the first part of January. Check the website for the most current hours of operation and facilities hours at Zion:

  • Zion Canyon Visitor Center
  • Park Store
  • Zion Canyon Wilderness Desk
  • Zion Human History Museum
  • Zion Nature Center
  • Kolob Canyons Visitor Center

Watchman Campground is the only one open during the winter.

Is January a Good Time to Visit Zion?

A January trip to Zion is awesome if you want to avoid the crowds – it’s one of our favorite times to go! But the weather will be cold and it may snow which could limit some of the outdoor activities.

Check out our guide for finding the best time to visit Zion National Park. Each season and month of the year will have different activities and services available.

Things to Do at Zion National Park in January

Here’s a list of fun things to do at Zion National Park in January.

Even if you have visited Zion National park in the fall or summer, a trip in the winter is a completely different experience that you will never forget.

Scenic Drives in January at Zion

While visiting Zion in January you are able to drive the four Zion National Park Scenic Drives. The Zion Canyon road is only open to cars from November to March, except for holidays, 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. If you’re driving an RV or oversized vehicle, be sure to check size limits and fees first. Driving along Highway 9 from Zion Canyon to the east entrance is breathtaking! 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 National Park. Check road conditions during the winter because the road does access higher elevations.

And if you don’t mind driving 40 miles north of Zion Canyon, you can drive the Kolob Canyons section of the park. Again, check road conditions because this road closes frequently in the winter.

Hiking in January at Zion

Zion National Park hikes in January are nice 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.

Angels Landing permit: hikers going to Angels Landing will need a permit. The National Park Service (NPS) will issue permits using online lotteries at Recreation.gov.

Canyoneering in January at Zion

The Subway and The Narrows are two famous trails for canyoneering at Zion. These trails involves route finding, rappelling, hiking, and swimming! The water will be COLD in January so you’ll need to rent special water suits and boots in Springdale.

Some of these technical hikes require a permit, and all overnight trips in these areas also require a permit. If you want to give it a try, check out these Zion canyoneering tours!

Zion 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 for Zion National Park photography

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.

Our favorite Zion National Park photo spots for sunrise and sunset:

  • History Museum back patio: sunrise
  • Canyon Overlook: sunrise
  • Three Patriarchs (shuttle stop): early morning
  • Riverside Walk (shuttle stop): early morning
  • Highway 9 landscape and bighorn sheep: early morning and evening
  • Checkerboard Mesa: early morning and evening
  • Pa’rus Trail: sunset
  • Kolob Terrace: sunset

Highway 9 has many places to photograph the Zion landscape. Stop at pullouts as you drive along. The views along the Kolob Terrace Road are also amazing, especially at sunset!

In January you’ll want to use photographer gloves and keep rechargeable hand warmers in your coat pockets!

Get our Zion National Park Photography Guide that lists all the best photo spots for sunrise and sunset.. . and tips for taking pictures of this amazing park!

take jaw-dropping photos at Zion National Park

Bicycling in January at Zion

Bicycling at Zion is a fun way to get around the park in January if there’s no snow or ice on the roads. You can rent bicycles in Springdale. Be aware of the rules for riding your bike at Zion:

  • Bicycling is permitted on the park roadways and the Pa’rus Trail. The areas closed to bikes: all other park trails, off-trail routes, and the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. 
  • Bikes must be ridden single file on the right side of the park roads and Pa’rus Trail. Due to the narrow park roads, there is a limit of 6 bicycles or less for every cycling group.
  • Wear your helmet.

Things To Do Near Zion National Park


Zion national park guides and maps

Plan Your Vacation To Zion National Park

Where to Stay Near Zion National Park

You definitely want to stay in Springdale which borders the entrance to Zion.

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