Plan Your Trip to Zion National Park in the Winter

It’s no secret how much we love Zion National Park. Dave and I visit as often as we can.

We especially love Zion National Park in the winter.

The crowds are gone and at times we feel like we have the park all to ourselves.

With the cooler temperatures, it makes for the perfect hiking weather to really explore the park. 

If you’re looking for Zion vacation ideas, check out all the things you can do in the winter!

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WHAT TO PACK FOR A NATIONAL PARK TRIP IN THE WINTER

→ Winter Clothing Guide

→ Winter Packing List for US National Parks

1. US National Parks Pass

You can order passes online or get them at any of these Federal Recreation Areas. BUY THE PASS AT REI and they will donate 10% of sales to the National Park Foundation.

2.  Hiking Gear

3. Clothing – Layers

4. Daypack

5. Other

What You Should Know Before Visiting Zion in the Winter

Does the Shuttle Run in the Winter?

The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to private vehicles during the shuttle season. 

Typically, shuttles 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.

Winter Weather at Zion

The days and nights are definitely cooler this time of year at Zion. In the winter you can expect the highs to be in the high 40s low 50s and for the temperatures to drop all the way to the mid 20s. With the right clothing, you will still be able to enjoy yourself even with the cooler weather. 

As you visit the park in December you can expect the highs to be around 48 degrees Fahrenheit. The lows will dip all the way to 24 degrees at night. 

January highs are usually around 50 degrees and the lows hover around 25 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Oftentimes in February, you will find that the temperatures are in the high 40s (around 49 degrees Fahrenheit) and will stay around 25 degrees for the lows. 

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 is open all year long, every day of the year. 

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).

All four 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.

Things to Do at Zion National Park in the winter

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

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.

CHECK OUT all the things you can do at Zion in January and February!

Zion National Park Winter Hiking

There are so many great hikes in Zion 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.

Observation Point Trail

As you hike Observation Point you will get to see the most spectacular views of Zion Canyon. In our opinion, this is a must-see view. In fact, we think it is the best one Zion has to offer in the winter months.

Weeping Rock Trail

Weeping Rock is one of the shortest hikes, but worth doing! This hike is about 500 feet long and will take about 20 minutes. Here you will see dripping water that forms icicles along the walls. An incredible sight to see in the winter. 

Weeping Rock is a perfect family-friendly hike even in the winter. 

Hidden Canyon Trail

If you hike to Weeping Rock and you want a longer hike, the trailhead to Hidden Canyon is right next to it. This hike takes about 45 minutes to an hour and is about 1 mile long if you turnaround at the viewpoint. As you hike you will see winter views that are breathtaking. 

Emerald Pools Trail

Emerald Pools trail is one of the easiest trails located in Zion. It is about 1.2 miles long and takes about an hour to complete. There are two trails: Lower Emerald Pools and Upper Emerald Pools. If you only have time to hike one be sure you go to Upper Emerald Pools in the winter. This trail has remarkable views of the Emerald lake and it is easy enough to do with kids of all ages. Just be sure to keep an eye on them while near the water. 

You can easily extend the Lower Emerald Pools hike further by continuing on the trail to the upper portion and then continuing on to a longer more strenuous hike to Kayenta Trail. 

Scenic Drives at Zion National Park

While visiting Zion in the winter you are able to drive the four 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.

View Wildlife in the Winter

Winter is a great time to see wildlife in the park. You might get the opportunity to see turkeys roaming about as well as bald eagles.

You also might see 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!

Photography 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! 

We love capturing the sunrise behind the museum, and sunset along the Pa’rus Trail to get the red glow on the Watchman!

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

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