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Visiting Zion National Park in Winter: What to Expect

Visiting Zion National Park in Winter: What to Expect

Looking for tips for visiting Zion National Park in Winter? We have you covered!

With the holidays winding down, all the decorations going back in boxes, the aftermath of the presents and celebrations thrown out and family and friends are heading back home to go back to everyday life. With all the excitement now gone it’s hard to set back into reality. The most wonderful time of the year meets the most miserable time of the year.

But what if you want the fun to keep going? What if you don’t want to sit in your house bored, with nothing to do? Winter can be a time of great depression for most people, it’s a time of cloudy skies, doom and gloom, especially after the festivities of the holidays are over.

It is then you say to yourself: I need to get out of the house. I need to go out and enjoy being outside.

You can’t stay couped up inside all winter, it’s just not healthy. A person needs to do everything they can to fight off the annual seasonal depression.

Some of the best things to do in Zion National Park in winter here!

Visiting Zion National Park in Winter

Located in southwestern Utah and filled with a multitude of geographic wonders of mountains, streams, trails and historic and sacred locations of ancient peoples, this is one of the best ‘Great Outdoors’ activities you and your family are ever going to experience.

It is nothing short of a marvel of nature’s beauty that takes your breath away the moment you first take in its sights. The difficult task in this article is going to be trying to put the majesty of this National Park into words. How can you simply write about a place that can, with just one view, change your entire life? In one visit, you’ll understand why so many have flocked to this park to take in everything that nature can give all in one, grand area.

But despite all these amazing reasons, most people might be a little apprehensive about visiting Zion in the winter. It might be too cold, or too difficult to travel to, travel while there, or several other concerns. You shouldn’t have these worries, because Zion is a place you can visit any time of the year. And rest assured you will have one of the most incredible experiences every time you go.

Zion National Park in the Winter

Zion National Park in the Winter/ Flickr

Visiting in the Winter – What to Expect

It’s hard to not be overwhelmed when taking in the sight of such raw, natural beauty, to feel humbled by a location that was carved, created and crafted by mother nature herself in such a way that mankind could only ever hope to replicate. And if you are lucky, you’ll be able to come to a place like this and make the most of your time in the presence of its sensational beauty.

That is what you’re in for when you visit Zion National Park.

And yes, you can still have that feeling in the winter. In the month of January, the temperature can reach highs of around 52 degrees and can get down to as low as 29 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can expect to dress with a sweater or coat, gloves, scarfs, along with a few other supplies you will need for your trip. Be aware, while on your trip, the weather can change dramatically due to which level of elevation you are in.

As always, when traveling to a National Park, you also need to know that there will be extensive walking, hiking, being out in the direct sun at times, and being around brisk cooler air, rain and snow. So, it is a good idea to be mindful of your own boundaries and limitations. And speaking of supplies, you will need strong hiking boots or tracking devices that you can slip you shoe in, that can help you track in the wintery weather. When you travel to Zion in January, the snow and rain can create mixed, troublesome weather here that can make your exhibition difficult if you are not prepared.

Zion After Rain

Zion After Rain/ Flickr

These warnings shouldn’t deter you from visiting mind you, these are just helpful tips. The more you know about how to properly prep for your visit, the better it will be.

What to do in Zion National Park in the Winter

This is the kind of place that you will want to take your time on simply because there is so much to see, you don’t want to be on a frigid time frame. Take your time and take a hike onto the trails that will lead you to scenes that you could only see in a nature magazine.

Zion has some of the most incredible views of mountain peaks that connect with the clouds, cutting through the skyline as if they were always made that way. You will be able to touch the red/pink rocks of some of these awe-inspiring mountains as you walk through the cut paths along their sides.

You will want to take breaks as often as you can to just stop and try to fathom every square inch of what you’re seeing.

It can be overwhelming at times so by all means don’t rush.

These trails wind and twist and one minute you are grazing your hands along the cracks of the vibrant rocks and then the next you’re surrounded by brush and pine.

Mountain Peaks

Mountain Peaks/ Flickr

Hike the Narrows

For those who are truly adventurous and want to see even more of what Zion offers, visitors can take a stroll along The Narrows, a cavern water way surrounded by red rock walls and partially frozen waterfalls. And it’s no wonder that this hike is one of the most popular in the park. You can walk along the shallow water below, with the proper hiking equipment, and take in sights that are beyond words.

The Narrows

The Narrows/ Flickr

Now, once again, this area is spectacular and wonderous, but it should be noted that those who are experienced hikers venture down here as it can be difficult for those who might not know how to take detailed trials into waterways. However, with the right supplies and a guide to assist, The Narrows can be one of the highlights of your trip. You look up at the rocks as they envelope you in their amazing and slightly intimidating presence. The more you venture in, the more it doesn’t feel like you’re in the real world, it feels like you’re in a land of make believe.

There aren’t enough words to really describe this place, it is truly awe inspiring. The Narrows encloses you in its rock walls, taking you down the shallow water paths, inviting you to take part in natural wonders that, before you arrived, might not have even known existed.

And yes, winter can make hiking here difficult, and you should, as stated multiple times before, take great care, but once you get down there, once you look up and see what is before you to experience, you’ll know it was worth it.

While traveling, it is custom to take as many photos and videos as possible to highlight all the best moments of your vacation.  It’s almost second nature nowadays to break out your phone to capture all that you can all at once. This is going to be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make at Zion Park. You could live here and not take enough photos to give justice to what’s around you. And it doesn’t matter if you are a professional wildlife photographer or an avid social media user, photos/videos are going to only make your trip even more incredible all because you will have proof to showcase it was.

From the start of the day, in the early morning, where you can find a spot perched on top of a mountain, your camera ready and positioned to take shots of the glory that is the morning sunrise. The bright red, orange and white lights mixing together, engulfing you as the warmth of the sun breaks over the peak. Your breath will catch as you take in what is an everyday event, as it is now transformed into a phenomenon. A miracle of nature.

Morning Sunrise

Morning Sunrise/ Flickr

You will want to make sure that the camera is on for pretty much the entire trip because there is no guarantee that you won’t miss something incredible. Just the rich, red rocks alone that follow you wherever you go, seeing them as they enhance with the sunlight, making them look like works of art, is something you will want to capture over and over.

They look like paintings, hand crafted images painted by an all-powerful being, that you can reach out and touch.  With everything around you, it really can be hard to take it all in, to really understand the importance and history of your surroundings.

If the glorious sunrise and mountain peaks and rivers wasn’t enough to make you tear up with amazement, then the sunset leading into what the night holds is going to send you into an absolute stunned state.

Out here there is nothing stopping you from looking up into the sky at night to see everything man was destined to gaze upon. With no light pollution to stop you, star gazing is a must see at Zion, and since the park is open 24 hours, you will lose it at the mere sight of the countless spectacle of stars.

Star Gazing Zion National Park Flickr

Star Gazing Zion National Park Flickr/ Flickr

But how can you just embrace the heavens? The billions upon billions of lights that really are stars, planets, and satellites light-years away, dance for you in the never-ending sky.

You don’t really know how much you’re missing until you get to see it firsthand, and when you see how many stars you are meant to view in your day-to-day life, it’s shocking to know everything you don’t get to see.

We were meant to have it all, to see it all, to know that nature doesn’t end with just our planet, it continues with the vastness that is space.

It really is sad to know, to find out what you are missing, our Milky Way Galaxy is a wonder of a behemoth of a galaxy, housing hundreds of billions of stars.

While you’re out in the wilderness of Zion it’s like a door is opening up, letting you in, letting you see just how powerful nature is.

But where is the best spot to go star gazing? Well that you be Pa’rus trail.

Pa’rus Trail

Pa’rus Trail/ Flickr

This trail is a safe area to stop and take in the star sights.

Another helpful tip? Since it is nighttime during the winter you will want to exercise extreme caution while venturing out here. With the trails potentially slippery with ice and snow and cliffs and drop offs around every corner, use extreme caution. Also, just because it is winter don’t think that the potential to run into wildlife is low, especially at night. For the safety of everyone, animal and human alike, please stay on the paved or most used trails while at night to make sure your trip is a good one.

Winter Safety Tips

No matter if its nighttime star gazing or hiking through water ways during the day, Zion Park wants to make sure that everyone is safe, stays safe and goes home the same way they came in.

Some safety tips are a good idea when visiting during winter.

The roads will be plowed after every snowstorm to make access to the park as smooth as possible.

Snow Storm

Snow Storm/ Flickr

During the colder months, there is a shuttle that takes visitors to different, more difficult locations in the park so that the risk of driving or walking incidences are low.

If you are going to be traveling via car and not doing much hiking, that is ok too, but make sure that your car can handle to elements. This isn’t going to be like taking a drive through a park in the city, this is a rugged area where the ground can be very Icey and slippery and can take a toll on your car. Have emergency supplies ready to go if you get stuck or need help.

The visitor center is open but be aware that during winter the times they are open are limited, so if you need assistance or have questions, be sure to know when the center is available to help you.

Not only should you know your limitations when traveling to a national park, but you should also make detailed plans for your visit. Anything can happen while out exploring nature and though we all try to plan for the worst sometimes bad things happen, and you need to be ready with your next move. If you are traveling with a group and get separated have an agreed meet up location. You should also make sure that everyone has the appropriate gear and supplies. Always pack food, water, First Aid and have communication devices that you know can reach out to emergency services should something happen.

Since you’re visiting during the winter months, make sure you know what the weather will be like during your stay. Even though it was talked about before about how the weather can change on a dime, especially depending on what elevation you are at or traveling to, you must make sure that you know what the temperature is going to be, or if it will snow or rain during your trip.

You will be experiencing the wilderness so please be mindful of the animals that live here, they want to be left alone and do not wish to be involved in photos or videos for viral fame on social media. These are wild, potentially dangerous animals that can hurt you if you get too close to them. Should you encounter an animal do not disturb it, do not approach it, do not try to help it. If an animal is hurt or needs emergency care, contact the local officials and let them handle it. It is hard to not want to help, especially if the animal looks cute and helpless, but it is not your responsibility to put them or yourself in danger.

Wild Animals

Wild Animals/ Flickr

One final tip to know when you come during winter is that this is the least busy time of the year to attend. And though that might sound like a good deal, as less crowds mean more time to make the most of your trip, know that that could also mean less people to help you in case of an emergency.

There is safety in numbers and when on vacation we tend to not think or pay attention to our surroundings like we should, which could lead to more accidents and mistakes that we wouldn’t normally make. So, enjoy the extra space and the empty trails that won’t be full of our tourists, but also know that you need to be on higher alert due to the fact that you might not get help as fast as you would like if something goes wrong and no one knows what happened to you.

Winter in Zion Park is full of many amazing sights, and we all want to take part in them, the more you are prepared to take on the elements and everything around you while on your visit, the more you will make the most of it. We must have respect for this location, we must know that what we do here can leave a lasting impression on it for everyone else who comes here. We as visitors have a responsibility of leaving the area and all the animals who live there in the same state that we found it in.

The Takeaway

To be able to experience nature on such a grand scale is a gift that shouldn’t be taken for granted. National Parks countrywide should not only be experienced but protected. Since 1919, Zion National Park has given millions of visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the absolute splendor of nature.

Not only is Zion a source of natural enjoyment but it’s also full of rich history of ancient humans which gives way for scientist to do research in the area, makes discoveries and learn more about how peoples thousands of years ago lived and called this park their home.

As we move more into the modern age with advances in technology, we need to take a minute and look back into a time where places like Zion was home. To live off the land, use its resources, hunt, make structures, raise generations surrounded by nothing but scenic wilderness feels like an impossible task, but was doable by our ancient ancestors.

We get so caught up in our day to day lives that we forget that there are miles of dramatic geological wonders all around us. We can all take part and venture out to see said wonders and detach ourselves from the many stressors of life and remember that there is still amazement out there and all we have to do is go out to experience it.

Geological Wonders

Geological Wonders/ Flickr