5 Reasons to Visit Zion National Park in the Winter
Zion National Park attracts three million visitors each year, but when winter rolls in you’d hardly know that Zion is Utah’s most popular national park. Zion’s mild winters allow park visitors to experience the beauty and solitude of Zion without the crowds and heat of peak summer season. Fresh air, scenery, and exciting outdoor adventures offer the perfect escape from the winter blues. Here are five things to do in winter at Zion National Park.
1. Bike along the Scenic Drive
During the height of tourist season, the heat may cause concern for some casual cyclists who would love to ride along the 6.5-mile stretch to enjoy the stunning views of the canyon and the famous Zion rock formations. Take advantage of cooler temperatures to enjoy the ride at your own pace.
2. Hiking in Zion
Some of Zion National Park’s lower trails are just too hot to hike in summer so winter is a great time to tackle trails in Zion’s main canyon like The Watchman. Since the crowds are so much thinner, the shuttle is no longer required and you can drive your car into the main canyon area. Most trails in Zion Canyon remain open during winter but some trails, such as Weeping Rock, Emerald Pools, Riverside Walk, and Angels Landing, may have areas that see little sun so be wary of icy patches. You may find snow and ice accumulation as you head out of the canyon on trails, so traction aides are recommended. East Rim to Cable Mountain are only recommended for experienced snow hikers.
3. Cross-country skiing or Snowshoeing up Kolob Terrace Road
This is a great secret I’d like to share: you can hike the trails in Zion with no snow and then drive from our resort only 20 minutes up Kolob Terrace Road to six thousand feet and have fun snowshoeing and cross country skiing! You will enjoy the scenic drive up the mountain and then once the road flattens onto Cave Valley, or higher in Hop Valley, the open snow beckons winter adventurers to explore. The best of both worlds.
4. Wildlife Viewing
Winter is a great time of year to catch a glimpse of wild turkeys roaming around Zion National Park, and Bald or Golden eagles soaring overhead. While some of the smaller mammals will be hibernating, you’re likely to see some large animals such as deer, elk, and Bighorn sheep. And with fewer visitors in Zion, park rangers may have more time to answer questions and tell you the best places to view wildlife. Remember to photograph safely, and from a distance.
Photography should definitely be on your list of things to do in Zion. Photographers claim the upper elevations on the east side of Zion National Park to be a dreamscape when the red rock is blanketed beneath brilliant white snow. Zion Canyon, on the other hand, experiences milder weather at lower elevations so the winterscape is quite different. That’s not to say the landscape isn’t magical: water levels in the Virgin River are higher, mist swirls around waterfalls, and snow-capped peaks contrast with Zion’s beautiful red rock.
(Article Courtesy of Zion Ponderosa)