While it’s fairly rare in the lower Zion Canyon, snow is a common sight in the higher elevations of Southern Utah. And already this winter, Springdale and Zion have experienced several snowy days, coating roads and making driving the steep, narrow roads a bit more hazardous.
If you’re visiting the park from somewhere warm, you might just get your first experience driving in snow. While its best to stay off the roadways if they’re covered in a layer of ice or inches of snow it is still possible to enjoy a cruise through the park when there’s a light dusting or when the snow has begun to melt. Keep reading to learn a few important winter driving tips that can help you navigate Southern Utah in snowy conditions.
Take it Slow
Perhaps the most important tip to remember when you’re driving on snow and ice is to take it slow. Until you’re confident that your car has traction and black ice isn’t hiding on the roadways, taking it nice and slow will help you keep control and stay on the road.
Keep it Smooth
The first time you feel your tires slide even just a little on a slick road, it will be tempting to jerk your wheel as you attempt to straighten your car back out. But doing so will only send your vehicle even further into a tailspin. Take it easy and make your movements deliberate and smooth.
You should already be taking it slow. However, looking ahead will allow you to slow down a bit more and anticipate turns or prepare for a wet spot on the road.
Direct Your Eyes Where You Want to Go
Even when you’re taking care and driving with caution, you may still find yourself sliding on ice or snow. If it does happen to you, besides avoiding jerking the wheel, you also need to pay attention to where you’re looking.
In a moment of panic, your instinct will be to look in the direction your car is sliding. But when you do, odds are that your hands will turn you in that direction too, making you slide even more out of control. Instead, direct your eyes in the direction that you want to be going. Hopefully, this will keep your hands focused as well and allow you to navigate back in the right direction.
Add Some Chains
If you have to drive through heavy snow or ice, adding a set of tire chains to your car can do wonders. Tire chains help you get a grip on slick, snowy roads.
Fuel Up Before You Leave
Before you venture into Zion or anywhere when there’s snow, make sure you have at least a half a tank of gas. That way if you get stuck and have to wait out a storm, you’ll have fuel to run the heat and still get to where you need to go.
Pack a Few Supplies
Besides filling up your tank, you should always pack a few cold-weather essentials in your car. Whether you’re headed out to explore Zion coated in snow or just driving down the road to grab a few groceries, bring your winter coat and a pair of waterproof shoes. That way if you need to get out, you’ll be able to stay warm. A blanket, some water bottles, and a few snacks can also help you stay comfortable in your car if you do need to wait out a storm.
Try Not to Stop on a Hill
When conditions are scary, you might be tempted to come to a stop while you access the situation. But if you’re on a slope, this is the last thing you want to do. Coming to a stop can cause your car to begin to slide, and once that happens, it can be tough to bring it to a halt on ice.
Check Your Tires
The pressure in your tires will fluctuate as the temperature drops. Before you head out, check your tires and add air if needed. This will help you keep your traction and avoid getting stuck on the road with deflated tires.
Don’t Forget Your Ice Scraper
Scraping the ice and snow off your car can be annoying, not to mention cold. But before you give into the temptation to let it melt or blow away on its own, take the time to scrape your car clean. Driving when you can’t see out of the windows is incredibly dangerous. And if ice dislodges from your car while you’re speeding down a highway, you run the risk of obscuring the view of any drivers behind you if it hits their windshield.
When conditions are bad or you’re nervous about driving on snow and ice for the first time, it’s always better to stay in rather than risk getting yourself into a scary situation.
Rather than trying to navigate slick roads, why not spend a day in, relaxing in your room with a movie or maybe playing card games with family and friends. You can even walk to restaurants, stores, and more in Springdale, so you won’t need to worry about taking your car out during a storm!