Winter sees the fewest visitors to Zion National Park. Whether its the weather and chilly temperatures that keep people away, or the busyness of the holidays that means less time for a fun vacation, if you’ve never visited the park this time of year, you’re missing out.
Besides having trails and overlooks to yourself, not to mention a break from summer’s sweltering heat, winter offers a chance to enjoy a couple of activities you can’t do any other time of year. And even the activities that are year-round become new and exciting when you add in a bit of snow. Keep reading to learn 5 awesome ways to enjoy Southern Utah this winter!
1. Skiing and Snowboarding
If the last thing on your mind during a visit to the desert is snow, you probably haven’t visited Zion in the winter just yet. The park, and especially the highest elevations of the park, see their share of winter storms that drop several feet or more of snow every year. But while you can still enjoy hiking in most of the park during this time of year, you won’t find many winter sports in Zion beyond that.
Luckily, you will find those less than 2 hours from the park in Brian Head, Utah. If you want to spend a day on the slopes, you can easily make it to Brian Head and back to your comfy vacation rental in a day. This makes for an excellent way to break up a few days of hiking and exploring the park. The ski resort there offers gear rentals, lessons, and routes in a variety of difficulties. It isn’t quite as large as ski resorts that you’ll find in Salt Lake City or the famous slopes of other states, like Colorado and Montana. But if you’re looking to mix up your visit to Southern Utah with a day on the slopes, these are the perfect fit.
2. Snowmobile Tours
If you’re looking to enjoy the snow without the work (and the next day soreness) of skiing and snowboarding, don’t discount a day trip to Brian Head just yet. You can also enjoy a unique activity that you won’t find just anywhere; a snowmobile tour. If you’re never ridden one of these motorized, snowbound machines, this is a wonderful way to give one a try with the help and guidance of an experienced guide.
Located on the edge of Cedar Breaks National Monument, your tour will give you a chance to experience the region and its beautiful landscapes covered in bright, white snow. Just like at the ski resort, you can rent any gear you might need, like snow pants and coats or waterproof boots.
3. Off-Road Adventures
You don’t have to travel all the way to Brian Head to get an adrenaline rush going. There are plenty of ways to do that in Springdale, as well as in nearby Hurricane and St. George, Utah.
Off-road tours and rentals are fun no matter what time of year you visit. If you don’t want to bundle up or face the chill of an open UTV or ATV, opt instead for a Jeep tour, or rent a Jeep Wrangler from one of the many outfitters. That way you can crank up the heat and still enjoy a thrilling adventure on any number of the off-road trails in the area.
4. Winter Hiking
Don’t let the chilly temperatures or a little snow keep you from enjoying what draws so many of the 4 million annual visitors to Zion; the trails. While some roads and trails may close when there is heavy snowfall, many remain open all season long.
With the right gear and some planning, you can still enjoy the trails that are open, even when snow is present. Waterproof hiking boots, with added treads when there is ice will help your feet stay dry and allow you to keep steady. Thermals, with insulating mid-layers of fleece, wool, or down, and topped with a waterproof coat or shell will keep you safe and warm, even in sub-zero temperatures. It’s also a good idea to pack a few emergency supplies, just in case. A space blanket, flashlight, lighter, and whistle are all important, and could just save your life if you get caught in a sudden snowstorm.
5. A Spa Day
If the wintery weather and all that hiking have you looking for a break and a chance to warm up, a spa day might be just the thing. With plenty of spas to choose from in and around Springdale, you can choose the massage, body treatment or facial you’re dreaming of, not to mention handpick from the endless amenities, like a delicious, healthy lunch or a little afternoon yoga to help you stretch out your sore muscles.
Add a spa day in the middle of your vacation to help you recharge before some more hiking and outdoor adventure. Or schedule it at the end so that you can go home relaxed and rejuvenated.
Planning Your Winter Adventure to Zion
Don’t let the cold or the snow scare you away; winter is a great time to visit Zion and the rest of Southern Utah. Whether you plan to enjoy skiing and snowboarding, a snowmobile tour, an off-road adventure, hiking, or even just a relaxing spa day, you’ll still get a chance to explore the outdoors and the beauty of the park.