19 Nov 2020
Winter in Zion National Park is mysterious. Is it worth visiting? What’s it like? What gear is required? Is it even open?
Winter visits to Zion are uncommon but come highly recommended by the adventurous few who are willing to branch out and try something new; and do you know what most winter visitors agree on? Zion in winter is as gorgeous as any other time, maybe even more so.
You’ll have the park almost completely to yourself, an experience that is so peaceful and impressive that it’s hard to describe. You also might get lucky enough to witness snow on Zion’s peaks, which transforms the stark red cliffs into something otherworldly.
Are you considering a unique winter visit? We have a few tips, tricks, and bits of information you should know before you go.
What’s the weather like?
Like in any desert, winter temperatures fluctuate greatly throughout the day. You may start the morning below freezing, then experience a high of 50-60°F.
You may also experience some rain or snow (which, to us, is one of the best parts of visiting in winter). According to the National Park Service, “Nearly half of the annual precipitation in Zion Canyon falls between the months of December and March,” so be prepared for the possibility of getting wet.
We recommend wearing warm, waterproof layers that you can remove or add as weather requires. You’ll also want some kind of traction device like these for your waterproof boots, as you may encounter some slickness from snow or ice on the trails (more details below).
Are all of the trails open?
Trails in Zion stay open during the winter unless icy conditions or inclement weather make them impassable. You can even hike The Narrows in the winter with the right equipment!
The National Park Service’s current conditions page and park newspaper will tell you about any temporary or long-term trail closures.
How much snow and ice should I expect?
As mentioned above, winter is the time when Zion sees the most precipitation, so you should plan on the presence of snow and ice. There’s usually not much -- most of it melts very quickly due to the daily temperature fluctuations. However, shadowy areas tend to stay icy and you may encounter freshly-fallen snow.
Are the shuttles running?
Unless you’re visiting during a winter holiday (the week of Christmas or New Year’s, President’s Day, etc.), the shuttles will not be running. You’ll have to use your own car to get around the park.
If you do plan to visit during a holiday, advanced tickets are required for the shuttles.
What are road conditions like?
Roads in Zion Canyon usually get plowed very quickly after a snowfall, but driving during a snowfall can be tricky. If you find yourself driving in snow, drive slowly and carefully.
Some roads, especially those in the Kolob Canyons, close in inclement weather. Again, always check current conditions and the park newspaper before you make a plan for your day.
A winter visit to Zion is a unique, inspiring, adventurous experience...when is your next visit?