With the growing interest in Zion National Park, many visitors have learned that one of the best times to experience Zion is during winter. Crowds are lighter, winter wildlife is frequently spotted, and skies are often sunny. While there’s been a bit more of the white stuff than usual this winter season, Zion canyon’s 4,000-foot base elevation typically sees daytime winter temperatures averaging 40-50 degrees.
DRIVE, HIKE, BIKE
Hiking during sunny, dry winter days is a great way to experience Zion’s lower canyon trails, which can sometimes be too hot to hike in summer. Most of Zion Canyon’s trails remain open during the winter, but there may be snow accumulation as you head out of the canyon trails. Check for advisories on higher elevation or shaded hiking trails if there has been recent snowfall. With lighter crowds and mandatory shuttle service suspended, winter is a great time of year to take a leisurely drive along Zion Canyon Scenic Road, go at your own pace, and enjoy the scenic stops.
With fewer visitors inside the park, winter is also one of the best times of year to observe wildlife in Zion. Wild turkeys, bald eagles, mule deer, elk, and bighorn sheep are commonly sighted during winter in Zion National Park, and also up at Zion Ponderosa. Be sure to view and photograph wildlife from a safe distance.
Up at Zion Ponderosa’s 6,500-foot elevation, it’s not uncommon to wake up to blissful winter postcard scenery. Zion Ponderosa guests often enjoy snowmobiling along the east rim of Zion, or snowshoeing and cross country skiing across our forested plateau right from a Zion Ridge vacation home to Observation Point or Cable Mountain. Often good snow boots and layers are all you need for a sunny winter hike along the eastern edge of Zion.
Enjoy even more snowshoeing and cross country skiing just 20 minutes up Kolob Terrace Road from Zion Ponderosa. The scenic mountain drive ends around 6,000 feet elevation, or continue to Cave Valley or higher elevation Hop Valley. Or drive off the plateau from Zion Ponderosa to lower elevations to sled the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, ride the new mountain biking trail system at Kanab, or explore the incredible slot canyons near Mount Carmel Junction and Orderville. Slot canyons can be tricky to explore on your own, so Zion Ponderosa can arrange guided canyoneering tours when booked in advance.
No matter how you choose to explore Zion in winter, one thing is for sure: how pretty Zion is in winter. Whether blue skies are setting the backdrop or snow is contrasting on the red rock formations, Zion’s winter beauty has a peace and serenity all it’s own.