Zion National Park Winter Activities

You’d be surprised how many Zion National Park winter activities you can do during this time of year. Winter is the off-season at Zion which means the crowds are gone and you can drive your car into Zion Canyon!

Zion National Park in the winter is our favorite time of year to visit to avoid the crowds and heat. Yes, it will be cold, and it may be snowy, but if you’re prepared for the weather, you’ll find that winter is a terrific time to visit Zion!

Zion National Park winter activities

Use this Zion National Park travel guide to plan your winter vacation: things to do, what to pack, and where to stay.

The winter months of December, January, and February are a great time to visit because you can drive your car through Zion Canyon except between Christmas and New Year’s and the MLK holiday weekend.

We are lucky to only live a few hours away from Zion National Park. We’ve had the opportunity to visit Zion many times during all seasons! The tips we share for planning a winter vacation to Zion are based on our experiences visiting the area throughout the years!

Our biggest tip is to be prepared for the weather so you’re able to enjoy the outdoor activities you want to do! Use our Zion National Park Packing List to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in the winter! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

get the free Zion National Park packing lists
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Winter Packing List for Zion National Park

winter hiking gear

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!

What to Expect at Zion National Park in the Winter

We 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.

Zion Shuttle in the Winter

The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is OPEN to private vehicles during the winter. Once all lots are full in Zion Canyon, it will close until there are open spaces available.

Zion National Park shuttles are running March through November, weekends in February, and the week between major holidays in December.

Visit the Zion National Park website to get the most updated shuttle information for the time you’ll be visiting in the winter.

Zion National Park Winter Weather

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

With the right winter clothing, you will still be able to enjoy yourself even with the cooler weather. 

Checkerboard Mesa with snow

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, the contrast of the colorful rocks with the white snow is just beautiful.

Zion National Park Winter Hours

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.

Winter camping in Zion National Park is limited. South Campground and part of Watchman Campground close in the winter. We share more details below if you want to camp during the winter months.

Driving in 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.

Zion National Park Winter Activities

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

A trip in the winter is a completely different experience than visiting during the other seasons of the year.

hiking at Zion National Park in the winter
Winter hiking in Zion Canyon

Winter Hiking at Zion

When planning for winter hiking in Zion National Park be sure to dress in layers so you can adapt to any changes of weather during the hike. Also, when hiking in Zion Canyon, many trails are in shade and near the river which adds to the cold.

We recommend an insulated jacket, fleece jacket, winter hat, winter gloves, and rechargeable hand warmers!

Check with the visitor center before hiking any trail in the winter. Some trails may be closed due to unsafe conditions. You’ll also want to know what trails have snow or ice that require traction devices.

You’ll need an Angels Landing permit to hike this trail, even in the winter!

Zion Narrows hiking trail
Zion Narros

Winter Canyoneering 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
Highway 9 scenic drive

Scenic Drives in the Winter 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 Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway 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
Virgin River at sunset

Winter Photography at Zion National Park

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 winter photos

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!

Winter Cycling 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.

Zion in the winter
Zion in the winter

Winter Camping at Zion

Another fun activity is winter Camping in Zion National Park. The Watchman Campground is next to the Zion Canyon Visitor Center. It’s about a quarter of a mile from the South Entrance of Zion in Springdale.

This is the only campground at Zion open year-round, but has reduced availability in the winter. All campsites at Watchman Campground require reservations, which may be made six months prior to your arrival date. 

There are also quite a few RV parks near Zion National Park to enjoy camping in the winter.

If winter camping isn’t your thing, check out the Zion National Park Lodge, the only in-park lodging available.

Here are a few of our favorite places to stay in Springdale close to Zion:


Zion national park guides and maps

Things To Do Near Zion National Park

Zion National Park Itinerary

If you’re wondering how many days to spend at Zion, check out these itinerary ideas for 1, 2, or 3 days in the park!

Get your FREE Zion National Park Travel Bundle that includes 3-day printable itineraries by clicking the graphic below!

Zion Travel Bundle optin

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