There’s plenty of debate about the best time to visit Zion National Park. If you go by visitor numbers alone, the summer season is no doubt the most popular time to visit the park. May, June, and July typically see the highest numbers of monthly visitors. But the summer season also brings some high temperatures to the park, which can make hiking its famous trails a little more difficult. With more visitors come more crowds on trails and other popular destinations in Zion, too.
If you’re planning a visit to the best resorts near Zion, there might be a better time of year to do so. You could come during the fall when the changing leaves bring the park to life with a beautiful display of color. Or, you could experience Zion during another beautiful and often-overlooked season; spring.
Let’s take a look at why spring might just be the best time to visit Zion
Perhaps one of the biggest things that makes spring the best time to visit Zion is the mild weather. It’s not unusual for early spring to bring a few lingering winter storms to Zion Canyon. But by mid to late spring, the snow has begun to melt, temperatures are rising, and sunny days are ahead.
Winter storms will usually fade away sometime in March. However, temperatures may stay low well into the spring season. While this might mean that you need to wear a couple of extra layers, this weather is ideal for taking on some of Zion’s challenging hiking trails. Trails like Angels Landing or some of the challenging backcountry trails in Kolob Canyon can be dangerous in the middle of the summer when temperatures soar and the sun is glaring. This is especially true if you aren’t accustomed to Southern Utah’s summer heat.
Another thing that makes spring one of the best times to visit Zion is that the season sees fewer crowds, at least compared to the summer and early fall seasons. Most years, March sees around 8 percent of the total number of visitors to Zion. April and May see increasingly more visitors each month, with around 10 percent of annual visitors coming in April, and 11 percent in May.
Winter snow melt and spring rain can cause water levels in the Virgin River to rise. This means that The Narrows will close to hikers. But plenty of other trails, including some that tend to close during the winter months, are open for much of this season.
One benefit of those spring showers is that many of the desert plants that call Zion home take advantage of the moisture, and reproduce quickly. This means that by early to mid-April, many colorful blooms erupt in the park. Look for the desert marigold or bright red slickrock paintbrush flowers during your visit, as well as a variety of other flowers.
You can spot these blooms throughout the park. But there are a few trails in particular great for getting a closer look. The Riverside Walk is one great spot. The proximity to the Virgin River means that this trail is lined with a variety of foliage, including wildflowers this time of year. The Canyon Overlook Trail is also a great hike to enjoy during the spring, as you can look down over the canyon and see the new growth and color coming to the canyon.
Choosing the Best Time to Visit Zion
Ask some locals, park rangers, or visitors what the best time to visit Zion is, and you’ll likely end up with dozens of answers. A Southern Utah local will probably tell you to visit when the crowds are low, like the middle of winter. Park rangers might tell you to come when the spring flowers bloom, or when the leaves change in the fall. But another person might tell you that the long and sunny days of summer can’t be beat!
The best time to visit Zion is up to you! Choose a season based on the activities that you plan to enjoy. But if you’re limited in when you can travel because of work or school, don’t be afraid to visit in a season that you might have otherwise avoided. There’s no bad time to visit Zion.
No matter the time of year you visit, Watchman Villas is one of the best resorts near Zion. Our spacious private villas are located just a short drive from the entrance to Zion National Park. This makes it easy to get to and from the park each day and to head back to your villa for an afternoon of relaxing. Book your stay today to see for yourself what makes our Zion resort so special!