If you’re like many visitors to the nation’s third-most-popular national park, you’ve only ever experienced Zion during the summer months.
As it is for many national parks and other outdoor destinations across the country, this 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 of 2023, the park’s busiest month of the year, more than 564,000 people entered the park. By comparison, January, which has so far been the park’s least busy month this year, saw just over 114,100 people visit.
There are plenty of reasons to plan a stay in luxury resorts near Zion National Park during the summer months. 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.
But just because it’s the most popular season in the park doesn’t make summer the best time of year to visit. If you want to experience a unique time of year in the park that few guests get to see, and that locals refer to as Zion’s “Secret Season,” keep reading to learn why you should visit Watchman Villas this winter.
Why is Winter Zion’s Secret Season?
Some of the same reasons why summer is such a popular time to visit the park are actually the same reasons why you should book a stay in Zion National Park rentals this winter.
Hot, dry, and sunny days are characteristic of Zion in the summer months. But while some might prefer this weather for their outdoor adventures, don’t dismiss the winter weather.
Colder temperatures can make hiking challenging trails like Angels Landing a little easier. While Zion does see some snowfall, much of the winter season is mild. That means that you can still enjoy hiking, sightseeing, canyoneering, and more, simply by wearing some warmer layers.
If you are lucky enough to visit Zion when it experiences some of its up to nine inches of annual snowfall, you’ll be treated to a sparkling winter wonderland that few visitors ever get to see.
Summer’s crowds mean that many businesses stay open later, or offer additional tour options that you won’t find during the winter. But there’s a big benefit to booking a stay in luxury resorts near Zion National Park when crowd levels are low.
Zion’s Secret Season is the time of year when just a fraction of the park’s annual visitors make their way through its gates. 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.
If you want to enjoy some of the park’s most popular trails, winter is the best season to do so.
The Zion Canyon Shuttles
For most of the year, riding the Zion Canyon Shuttle is a reality of visiting the park. That’s one benefit of staying in Zion National Park rentals in Springdale. When you book a stay at Watchman Villas, you can skip the hassles of finding parking to ride the Zion Shuttle. Instead, you can simply walk to the park’s entrance, or hop aboard the Springdale Shuttle to ride to the entrance to the park. From there, you can transfer to the Zion Canyon Shuttle to start your day in the park.
But while the shuttles are important for alleviating traffic and crowding in the Lower Canyon and protecting the park’s natural resources, they can sometimes be a little inconvenient. If you want to get to a trail early, stay in the park late, or get to a trail fast, you’re limited in your options.
That’s one big benefit of visiting during Zion’s Secret Season; the chance to drive your personal vehicle into the Lower Canyon. From the beginning of December to the end of February, shuttle service in Springdale and the park is suspended, with the exception of a week around the December holidays. This means that you can take a cruise through the park and park directly at trailheads.
Planning a Winter Stay in Luxury Resorts Near Zion National Park
Winter in Zion is truly a unique season. Besides the cooler weather, thinning crowds, and the chance to skip the shuttle, you can also enjoy plenty of fun day trips. Drive to Brian Head Resort to go snowboarding or take a snowmobile tour. Day trip to Bryce Canyon National Park for some cross-country skiing. There’s plenty of activities you can only do during a winter stay in Watchman Villas.
Ready to start planning your own Secret Season stay in luxury resorts near Zion National Park? Check out this guide to the Zion National Park hours you need to know this time of year.