Plan Your Trip to Zion National Park in the Winter

A trip to Zion National Park in the winter is the best because the crowds are gone. At times we feel like we have the park all to ourselves!

This Zion National Park travel guide includes everything you need to know to plan your winter vacation!

Zion National Park in the Winter

Check out all the things you can do, where to stay, what to pack and more when you visit Zion in the winter!

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What to Pack for Zion National Park

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

Outdoor Gear we recommend! Travel Gear & Hiking Gear

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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 the Winter

You’ll LOVE visiting Zion National Park in the winter when it’s the off-season. The park is definitely not as crowded as it is during the summer. It’s a terrific time to visit this most-visited Utah National Park.

Does the Zion Shuttle Run in the Winter?

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

Visit the Zion NPS website to get the most updated shuttle information for the time you’ll be visiting.

Winter Weather at Zion

Zion National Park weather in the winter means cooler days and cold nights.

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. 

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.

Does Zion National Park Close in the Winter?

Zion National Park and the Visitor Center are open all year long, every day of the year. Check the website for the most current Zion facilities hours.

In the winter, camping in Zion National Park is limited. South Campground and part of Watchman Campground close in the winter.

Can You Drive Through Zion National Park in the Winter?

With winter being less crowded one of the benefits is that you can drive your car through Zion Canyon (except for the holidays at Christmas/New Year’s and President’s weekend in February).

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.

Is Winter a Good Time to Visit Zion?

A winter trip to Zion is awesome if you want to avoid the crowds! 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 the Winter

Here’s a list of fun things to do at Zion National Park during the winter months.

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.

Pa'rus Trail at sunset at zion national park

Zion National Park Winter Hiking

There are so many great Zion National Park hikes even during the winter months. With so many great hike options there is a hike for everyone!

When hiking in the winter be sure to dress in layers so you can adapt to the weather changes throughout the hike. 

While on your hike you will take in breathtaking views and wildlife. Be sure to check the trail conditions before beginning your hike as some may be closed. 

Check with the visitor center before hiking any trail in the winter. Some trails may have snow or ice and you may need traction devices.

Be sure you know about the Angels Landing pilot program: hikers going to Angels Landing will need a permit. The National Park Service (NPS) will issue permits using online lotteries at Recreation.gov.

Zion Narrows hiking trail

Canyoneering in the Winter 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 the winter so you’ll need special water suits and boots that can be rented 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 National Park in the winter along Highway 9

Scenic Drives at Zion National Park

In the winter 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.

photographing the Virgin River and the Watchman at Zion in the winter

Photography at Zion in the Winter

It should be no surprise that we recommend taking lots of pictures in Zion in the winter. If you are lucky enough to visit after it snows, the contrast of the white snow on the red rocks is stunning for Zion National Park photography

Keep in mind that sunrise and sunset at Zion you’re looking for the reflected light on the rock structures, and not the sun rising or setting. 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!

We like to use photographer gloves and keep rechargeable hand warmers in our coat pockets!

take jaw-dropping photos at Zion National Park

Bicycling in the Winter at Zion

Did you know you can access Zion Canyon by bike? Bicycling at Zion is a fun way to get around the park. 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.

There are bike racks located at major shuttle stops and trailheads. You may also take your bicycle on the shuttle bus as long as you can get the bikes on and off the front racks by yourself.

BUY AT AMAZON: Zion National Park Guides and Maps

Zion national park guides and maps

Plan Your Vacation To Zion National Park

Things To Do Near Zion

Where to Stay Near Zion National Park

If you’re not staying in Zion, you definitely want to stay in Springdale which borders the entrance to the park. 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.
  • VRBO 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. 
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