The Best Time to Visit Zion National Park (And What to do Based on the Season)

best time to visit zion national park, utah

The best time to visit Zion National Park depends on the type of outdoor experience you want. Luckily, there's something for everyone based on your budget and type of adventure you're looking for.

There's a perfect season for everyone to visit Zion National Park, depending on if you enjoy winter activities or warmer summer adventures. Let's dive in!

Most people think the best time to visit Zion National Park is in the summer. In reality, there's so much to see and do in Zion National Park that finding the best time to go really depends on what kind of experience you're after. There is no shortage of things to do in Zion National Park year round.

It is important to understand Zion National Park weather by month and by season to decide when to visit.

Although summer is technically part of the park's peak season, the national park is open 365 days a year and recreational activities vary depending on the season. 

The spring and summer months in Zion National Park are ideal for those who want to hike all day in nice weather and experience the beauty of one of Utah's natural wonders. There are trails to explore, roads to hike, and canyons for canyoneering. It's easily considered the best time to visit Zion National Park for most people.

However, during the low season, Zion National Park welcomes those who want a little bit more peace and quiet in their exploration.

Although the park is open, access to certain trails and outdoor activities might be limited or restricted, based on colder temperatures and icy conditions.

But that doesn't stop the park from providing visitors with an ample amount of things to do, including winter activities such as skiing and snowshoeing.

When deciding to visit, the main thing to do take into consideration is the weather in Zion National Park. At the end of the day, Mother Nature and the weather will dictate how you experience the park and what kind of activities you can and cannot do.

Recommended Experience: Full-Day Guided Hike in Zion National Park

Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips. 

What’s the best time of the year to visit Zion National Park?

If I had to choose the two best times of the year to visit Zion National Park, I would say spring and fall. I'm personally not a fan of sweating the whole day on the trail from intense heat and can do without a lot of snow, so these two seasons are a perfect time to explore the outdoors without being uncomfortable.

When it comes down to it, there are more activities available during the peak months of spring and fall at Zion National Park.

It's the reason why these seasons draw such large crowds, because people want to take advantage of the comfortable weather and the large variety of adventures the park has to offer. It is also the best time to visit Utah National Parks as a whole. 

things to do in zion national park during any season

Getting around Zion National Park during the peak time is easier than during the winter. The park's free shuttle brings visitors around to different access points for trails and activities. If you're visiting in the winter, you have to go without this free service and find your own way around the park.

If you don't mind paying a higher rate for local accommodation, visiting Zion National Park during the peak season is the way to go. 

But if spring or fall isn't your favorite time to travel or you don't have time off then, you can still visit Zion National Park in the winter or summer. Let's have a look at the different experiences available based on the season. 

Related: One Week Arizona Road Trip Itinerary 

Zion National Park by the Season

Zion National Park doesn't hold back on adventure, no matter what time of the year. It is important to understand Zion National Park and its weather by the month when deciding when to visit.

Planning a trip to Zion National Park is based upon the type of activity you want to do. If you are interested in hiking, cycling, or canyoneering, the spring and fall months play a more favorable role for those experiences.

The weather during the spring and fall is very temperate, with temperatures in the 60s and 70s. These two seasons are the most ideal for being outdoors without overheating or getting too cold.

zion canyon weather for every season

Summer is also one of the most popular times to visit Zion National Park, but it is important to keep in mind how hot the area can get.

Although the majority of outdoor activities are available during summer, some days get over over 100 degrees. I don't know about you, but hiking or cycling in 100 degree weather doesn't sound too appealing.

On the other hand, if you are searching for some winter fun, Zion National Park winter sports and activities are very popular. Hiking is actually an ideal activity to do during the winter because of the much smaller crowds.

People are also able to drive directly to the entrance of a trail during the winter, unlike in other seasons. This gives hikers easy access to some of the best trails in the park.

For those who want to see nature and animals in their own habitat, wildlife viewing is in its peak during the winter. Cross country skiing and snow shoeing are winter sports that are popular during this time of the year as well.

zion national park weather by month

Zion National Park is one of the best national parks to visit in the winter because the activities don't come to a complete halt.

The winter months at Zion National Park are of course the coldest of the year. Temperatures can reach below freezing during the night but average around 50 degrees during the day because of the desert climate in the region.

Winter is also the wet season for the park. Between December to March is when Zion National Park receives more than 50% of its annual precipitation. Keep in mind that the park gets snow as well and certain areas and trails may be closed or limited because of weather conditions.

HIGH SEASON

best time to visit utah - during the warmer months

June - September

The high season at Zion National Park stretches for nearly half the year, giving visitors ample amount of time to hike, climb, bike, and kayak through the park. It is one of the best times to visit Utah.

Pros 

  • Zion National Park has a free shuttle running during this time which brings visitors to various trails and attractions. 
  • Depending on the month you visit, the weather can be very favorable.
  • Trails will be open and easily accessible.
  • The park runs the most activities and special events during the peak season.

Cons

  • The summer months can be very hot, with some locations reaching 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • There will be crowds, especially with school out for the summer. Your plans might be delayed based on the crowds. 
  • Accommodation in the nearest towns book up quickly so it is important to plan ahead. The prices of hotels are also most expensive at this time. 
  • Some activities might be limited based on the heat and weather. 

Events/Festivals

  • DOUCTAH (June) 
  • Zion Canyon Music Festival (September) 

Best activities to do in Zion National Park during peak season: hiking, bicycling, climbing to desert waterfalls

If you decide to visit Zion National Park during this time of the year, you definitely won't be bored. This is when most activities are in full swing and if you love the outdoors, there's always something fun to do. Millions of people who visit during the peak season believe this is the best time to visit Zion National Park.

Best time to visit if you're looking for: park run activities, good hiking conditions (minus the peak summer months), free shuttle, special events and festivals.

Pro tip: make sure you plan your activities based on the weather, wear appropriate clothes and bring a lot of water to keep hydrated during warmer days. 

Recommended Experience: Rock Climbing and Canyoneering Near Zion National Park

SHOULDER SEASON - SPRING

visiting zion national park in the spring

April - May

When the peak summer rush of visitors hasn't quite begun yet. This is the perfect time of the year for those who want fair weather conditions and smaller crowds. 

Pros

  • The weather is starting to warm up from the winter months.
  • Ideal time to see wildflowers at the park.
  • Smaller crowds.
  • You may be able to see some emerging wildlife as baby animals, such as turkeys, sheep, and deer can be seen in the park.

Cons

  • The weather can get cold during the early mornings and late at night, make sure to dress accordingly.
  • Zion National Park in March means the rainy season. Although March is when it usually peaks, there is still a chance of rain in April.
  • Certain hikes and canyons may be closed because of flash flooding.

Events

  • Zion Canyon Earth Day Festival (April)
  • Zion Canyon Storyteller Festival (late April)

Best places to visit in Zion National Park during spring: Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, Emerald Pools, Pa'rus Trail

Some of these well known attractions and top reasons for visiting Zion National Park are much less crowded during April. Take advantage of having more of the park to yourself.

Best time to visit if you're looking for: hiking, watching wildlife, wildflowers, fair weather, smaller crowds.

Pro tip: The weather might be nice during the day, but it still gets cool in the evening. Make sure you wear layers and pack appropriately. 

SHOULDER SEASON - FALL

best time to visit utah national parks in the fall

October - November

The fall months are some of the most ideal to travel to Zion National Park. The crowds have slowed down and you can enjoy the park more at your own pace, without the congestion of summer tourists.

Pros

  • The weather is cooler, but has not yet dropped down to cold winter temperatures.
  • Hiking trails are much less crowded.
  • Visitors can drive through the scenic highway, which is usually closed to traffic in the peak season.
  • Local accommodations are cheaper.

Cons

  • You might not see people often while adventuring through the park. Some people may like this, others may not.

Events

  • Zion National Park Centennial Art Event (November)
  • Butch Cassidy 10K/15k (November)
  • Plein Art Invitational (November)

Best places to visit in Zion National Park during fall: Angel's Landing, Hidden Canyon, Observation Point

These are some of the best hikes in Zion National Park. With less crowds during the fall, you may have much of it to yourself. For a more private hiking experience, this is the best time to visit Zion National Park.

Best time to visit if you're looking for: hiking, comfortable weather, more opportunities to explore the park on your own. 

Pro Tip: The crowds are thinner, which also means less people on the trails. If hiking is your adventure of choice, make sure to go with another person or let someone else know where you will be if hiking alone.

Related: The Best Things to do in Mesa, AZ

LOW SEASON

zion national park winter

December-March

The low season at Zion National Park happens during the winter months when temperatures are colder. Visitors can take advantage of winter activities such as skiing and snowshoeing. 

Pros

  • Zion National Park’s free shuttle is not running but that means cars have access to roads that they otherwise might not during peak season. The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is open to public vehicles at that time. 
  • Hotels are not in such high demand and prices are cheaper. 
  • Although it is winter, Zion National Park receives a minimal amount of snow. 
  • More access to park rangers and their knowledge of the park because of fewer tourists. 
  • Keep on the lookout for larger animals, elk and deer are more visible during the winter months.

Cons:

  • The weather will be cold, with temperatures dropping to as low as in the 20s. 
  • The free shuttle is not operating. Visitors will have to rely on their own transportation to get around. 
  • It might be harder to enjoy some of the park’s attractions because of the weather, including Angels Landing and The Narrows. 
  • Fewer park run activities. 
  • Trails may be icy or dangerous. 

Events

  • Zion Joy to the World (December)

Best places to visit in Zion National Park in the winter: The Watchman, Kolob Terrace Road

Zion Canyon weather in the summer may be unforgiving at times. Certain trails in the main canyon, like The Watchman, may be too hot to hike during the summer. The winter season becomes a perfect time to hike these usually very hot trails.

For some, this is the best time to visit Zion National Park for the cooler weather alone.

Best time to visit if you're looking for: Utah's winter adventures, including cross country skiing and snowshoeing.

All the winter activities available make Zion National Park one of the best national parks to visit in winter.

Pro tip: the winter weather can change drastically and quickly. Wear layers in case you need to alter your outfit based on the temperature.


What to Pack for Zion National Park

Sarah Mueller

My name is Sarah from Sarah and a Suitcase! I’m a habitual traveler and displaced Brooklyn native currently living in Northern Virginia. I provide The Atlas Heart readers with local travel tips and recommendations for where to stay in some of my favorite places around the world.
Sarah Mueller