How to Visit Zion During the Secret Season

Nov 30, 2022 | Blog | 0 comments


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The summer season has long been the most popular time of year to visit Zion National Park. June and July often see the highest number of visitors making their way through the park’s gates. In July 2023, nearly 550,000 people visited Zion. In June 2021, the park broke records, welcoming more than 675,000 guests in a single month.

There are plenty of reasons to plan a visit to Zion during the summer. While hot, the weather this time of year is sunny and dry. Days are long, which means more time on the trails. Because this is a popular time to visit, you’ll likely find more available tours and other activities from local companies. Restaurants and stores often stay open later in the summer months as well. With school holidays, many families are only able to travel this time of year.

When you book a stay at Watchman Villas, you’ll enjoy quick and easy access to the park, no matter what time of year you visit. So, even if you find yourself in Springdale at the height of the busy season, you’ll still be able to get in and out of Zion with ease, allowing you to make the most of your precious vacation time.

But if you have more flexibility in when you can travel, and want to see Zion in a whole new light, consider planning a visit during the park’s Secret Season. What is Zion’s Secret season? Keep reading to find out, and learn how to visit Zion this time of year.

What is Zion’s Secret Season?

Zion’s Secret Season is the time of year when just a fraction of the park’s annual visitors makes their way through its gates; winter. Visitor numbers begin to drop starting in November. While Zion may still see crowds in the early weekends in November, and around the Thanksgiving holiday, outside of that, fewer people make their way to the park. That number drops again in December, with most of the month’s visitors coming around the Christmas holiday. January and February tend to see the lowest monthly visitor counts of the whole year.

Let’s take a look at the monthly visitor numbers during the late fall and winter seasons in 2023:

  • November 2021: 308,560
  • December 2021: 211,983
  • January 2022: 139,827
  • February 2022: 168,499

From December to February, the park sees lower temperatures, shorter days, and some occasional snow and ice. While this may mean modifying your plans, compared to visiting during the summer months, it’s an excellent chance to see a new side of the park and to enjoy it with few crowds and little traffic.

How to Visit Zion During the Secret Season

Zion’s Secret Season is a great chance to experience a whole new side of the national park. But if you’ve only ever visited the park during warmer weather, there are a few things you should know about how to visit Zion during the Secret Season.

Dress for the Weather

No matter what time of year you visit Zion, it’s important to make sure that you’re dressing for the weather. During the summer, this means dressing in clothes that are cool and comfortable. They should be breathable and offer some protection from the harsh summer sun. During the winter, you’ll need to dress in warm, insulating layers.

Start with a base layer that’s designed to not only keep you warm but also to wick away sweat and moisture. Wool and synthetic base layers are a good choice. These will move your sweat or any moisture away from your skin, keeping you warm and comfortable. From there, add layers to keep yourself warm. Great options include fleece, wool sweaters, and down jackets. If there’s snow in the forecast or it’s windy, add an outer shell to protect yourself and stay dry while hiking and enjoying the park.

Keep Your Plans Flexible

Another great thing to do when visiting during Zion’s Secret Season is to keep your plans flexible. Maybe you’re hoping to hike Angels Landing or one of the park’s other challenging trails. But a sudden winter storm strikes. This can sometimes turn the trails treacherous, and force you to change your plans. Keeping your daily itinerary flexible will allow you to adjust if the weather strikes, and make sure that you’re still making the most of your visit.

Start Your Day Early

The sun goes down earlier during the winter months. To make the most of your time, make sure to get to the park early in the day. When you stay at Watchman Villas, you’re just a short drive from the park’s entrance. And, because the Zion Canyon and Springdale shuttle buses don’t operate during the winter, you’ll be able to drive straight to most trailheads, making it even easier to hit the trails early.

Plan Activities for Your Evening

With shorter days, you’ll also need to plan how to spend your evenings this time of year. One of the best tips on how to visit Zion during the Secret Season is to opt for Springdale vacation rentals instead of your standard hotel. 

After a day of hiking, you’ll have more space to spread out and relax. Plan a family movie or game night, cook a meal in your fully equipped kitchen, or enjoy a nice hot soak in your tub.

Planning a Stay in Springdale Vacation Rentals.

Now that you know how to visit Zion during the park’s Secret Season, it’s time to start planning your next visit.

Besides being able to enjoy the park’s most popular trails and overlooks with fewer crowds, visiting during the Secret Season can also be a great way to save money on your stay. Right now, when you book a stay of two or more nights at Watchman Villas before March 15, 2023, you’ll get 40 percent off your entire booking. This can help you extend your trip, save some money, or maybe allow you to book an extra special tour or a day at a local spa during your stay. Book today to take advantage of this amazing deal, and experience ZIon’s Secret Season for yourself!

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