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Experience Zion National Park in Winter and Enjoy Its Snowy Glory

For folks who aren’t afraid to brave the cold, visiting a national park in the wintertime is actually quite a unique and rewarding experience! This holds true especially in places like Zion National Park, which boasts a whole different kind of feeling when you visit in the chilly months.

Read on for a roundup of what makes a trip to Zion National Park in winter so appealing, as well as places to stay in and around the park, important items to bring, and more.

Zion National Park in Winter

Benefits of a Visit to Zion National Park in Winter

Smaller Crowds

Whenever you visit Zion National Park in the warmer months, you are bound to run into crowds. This is, after all, a very popular national park—one of the most popular in the nation! It’s also on the smaller side, so it can fill up really fast in the spring and summer especially.

However, if you plan a trip to Zion National Park in winter, you will typically find you have fewer crowds to contend with. For a more sparsely populated experience, you should plan to visit Zion National Park in the heart of meteorological winter, between the months of December to around early March. Around the middle of March is when the crowds will start to thicken again.

More Affordable Lodging in the Park

As a sort of domino effect of the colder months beckoning fewer visitors to Zion National Park, you will also find that it’s easier to pin down some affordable lodging around the national park. This is often the case in places like the Zion Lodge within the park, as well as at places outside of the national park—such as hotels in the surrounding towns.

You will also find that if you visit Zion National Park in winter as opposed to spring, summer, or fall, there will be a greater number of vacancies at hotels and rental spots. So during a winter trip, you are more likely to have your pick of the kind of lodging, room size, and amenities you want, as opposed to having to settle for what’s available at any given time of year.

Fantastic Hiking Conditions

If you don’t mind a bit of a brisk atmosphere, you will find the hiking conditions in Zion National Park in winter are truly exceptional. Though the mornings and nights are particularly chilly—often dipping well below freezing—during the day, you will encounter some very pleasant hiking conditions.

In the daylight hours, temperatures at Zion National Park in winter actually work in your favor for hiking. The average high is around 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which is quite comfortable for hiking. The trails themselves are also much less crowded in the winter, so you can enjoy a more solitary hike at your own pace.

Winter Hiking in Utah

In terms of trail access, you also have the option in the winter to easily drive your vehicle into the canyon at Zion National Park. This can make it easier to access some of the trails. It should be noted, however, that some trails may be closed due to the hazard of falling ice during the winter months.

There’s also the risk of icy conditions on the trails, especially in shady spots. With this in mind, you should consider investing in traction devices for your hiking boots in order to ensure a safe hiking experience.

Plenty of Winter Recreation

In addition to winter hiking, there are lots of other recreations to enjoy at Zion National Park in winter. Among the most popular are stargazing, photography, snowshoeing, and snowplay. In the right conditions, you can still explore the canyons and even do a bit of rock climbing as well.

Gorgeous Winter Drives

Many of the largest and most popular roads in Zion National Park are kept plowed during the winter. This makes for some great opportunities to drive around and see the beauty of the park from the comfortable warmth of your car.

You may consider investing in snow chains for your tires in the event that you should encounter a snow or ice storm while at Zion National Park in winter. The same goes for if you are planning your visit shortly after inclement weather passes through.

Camping at Zion National Park in Winter

Where to Camp

There is plenty to enjoy about Zion National Park camping in all seasons. But there’s no denying that you can have a really unique and fun experience when camping at Zion National Park in winter. Not only will you find the single year-round campground far less crowded, but the beauty of this national park in winter is an added bonus when you stay overnight and camp beneath the stars.

Night Camping in Utah

Of the three campgrounds hosted at Zion National Park, only one campground is open year round. Watchman Campground may be reserved for use, and campsite reservations can be made up to six months in advance of your stay.

Though reservations are not required, they are recommended due to the popularity of this national park. The three campgrounds tend to be booked full every single night during the on season of March through November, and in the winter months, there is still the risk of all campsites being filled at the time of your visit.

Luckily, you have plenty of options to choose from when camping at Watchman Campground. This location boasts 65 RV-only and 69 tent-only sites, with a total of 95 electric sites and seven group campsites. There is potable water available, and some flush toilets.

What to Bring

When camping at Zion National Park in winter, it’s important to make sure you come prepared. Winter nights typically dip below freezing, so you don’t want to be caught unawares when the elements strike. This is true whether you are tent camping, RV camping, or car or trailer camping.

A reliable winter camping checklist can help you make sure you don’t miss out on any of the essentials, such as cold weather sleeping bags, the best winter clothing, and even things like a reliable RV heater if you are RV camping.

You also want to make sure you have good, sturdy daywear, such as waterproof hiking boots and shoe chains for conquering the slick passes while hiking. Wearing layers can also be helpful during daytime activities. You don’t want to risk overheating with clothes that are too thick any more than you want to risk hypothermia with clothes that are too thin!

Places to Stay Outside Zion National Park

While lodging and campground accommodations can be cheaper and more available within Zion National Park in winter, you may still want to opt for places to stay outside the national park. You can usually find a decent amount of accommodations at reasonable prices in the nearby towns of Springdale, St. George, and East Zion.

Here are a couple of other fantastic accommodations if you prefer to stay outside the park.

Luxury Log Cabin near Zion National Park

If you need a large, affordable accommodation for a whole family or group while visiting Zion National Park in winter, then this luxury log cabin near Zion National Park is a fantastic option! This location brims with rustic charm, boasting all the classic features of a vintage log cabin: exposed wood, thick roof beams, warm lighting, and lots of broad space in the open floor plan.

Luxury Cabin

Sitting at around 3,000 square feet, this log cabin strikes a phenomenal balance between classic and modern with its amenities. Its four bedrooms can accommodate up to ten guests, who can enjoy the full kitchen, jacuzzi, fire pits, and onsight pond fed by waterfalls.

This is all in addition to Zion National Park itself, which is just a short drive away!

Rental Apartment Near Zion National Park

Do you have your heart set on a small, cozy space to rest your head and unwind in between adventures at Zion National Park in winter? Then this rental apartment near Zion National Park could be the perfect fit for you!

This one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with a kitchenette and living room space is about as close to the national park as you can get without staying onsite. Located a mere 0.1 miles from the southwestern entrance to Zion National Park, this apartment sleeps up to five people who can all enjoy quick and easy access to the park.

Wingate by Wyndham

Are you a lover of the more classic hotel experience? If you love the luxury of a hotel stay with all the bells and whistles, then you can plan your stay at the Wingate by Wyndham. This spacious but cozy hotel has all the trimmings of a classic hotel stay, as well as some nicer amenities like a place to do your laundry.

This is a great space to stay the night, grab a continental breakfast, then take off for a day of hiking and exploring at Zion National Park in winter.

Zion National Park Winter Safety Considerations

Winter Weather

If you are visiting Zion National Park in winter, you can expect to encounter at least some cold, wet weather. Since nearly half of the yearly precipitation in this region falls just in the winter months, chances are you will have some winter weather to deal with during your visit.

With this in mind, you want to prepare for things like falling ice and snowfall. This snow may melt in just a few hours if you are in the lower elevations, but at higher altitudes, the snow will accumulate and stick around for a bit. There is also the risk of ice on the trails, especially in shady spots.

Be sure to bring appropriate footwear and clothing, and keep an eye on the weather, Conditions can change or deteriorate rapidly, so you want to be prepared for all kinds of winter weather in this area.

Winter Wildlife

There are tons of different animals that call Zion National Park their home. While you may see fewer of certain species in wintertime—such as amphibians and reptiles—there are still many chances to spot creatures like mule deer, bighorn sheep, and other mammals.

Mountain Lion

At times, you may even have an easier time finding and observing the animals in Zion National Park as you follow their footprints through the snow! Just be aware of your surroundings and watch out for predators like mountain lions, who may mistake your winter clothing for a deer and be tempted to stalk you.

Winter Safety Skills

Nothing will ruin your visit to Zion National Park in winter like a medical issue or a safety hazard. Before you strike off into this national park in the cold months, make sure you sharpen your winter safety skills.

Some things you will want to learn about or brush up on your knowledge of include how to check for ice thicknesshow to build a winter fire pithow to prevent frostbite and how to treat superficial frostbite, and how to prevent and treat hypothermia. These are, of course, all skills you would certainly rather not have to make use of, but it’s better to be prepared just in case.

Wrapping Up Your Zion National Park Winter Trip

Are you excited to experience the beauty of Zion National Park in winter? Before you head out for this gorgeous national park, be sure to take some time and sharpen your winter camping survival skills. Whether you are tent camping, RV camping, or just striking out into the wilds for the day, knowing these crucial skills can help ensure you are ready for whatever the winter wilderness may throw your way.