The best time of year to go to Zion National Park is in the Winter. It is picturesque, quiet, and the only time of year that it isn’t overrun with tourists. I’ve been many times in the summer. It is still an incredible place to visit, but is more like Disneyland than an outdoors adventure.
We actually camped instead of staying in a hotel. There were only a couple of people that braved the cold and snow. The temperature dropped down to around -4 degrees Fahrenheit in Zion and down to -9 degrees Fahrenheit in Bryce. It was definitely brisk. We were very thankful to have sleeping bags rated to -20 degrees Fahrenheit and then had liners which added an extra 15 degrees of warmth.
We spent most of our time hiking. I’d love to come back and do some combination of ice climbing or rock climbing on a future trip. We’d also like to hike the Narrows which is a hike that goes up a river. There were a few people who made the trip while we were there and they were dressed up in full body wet suits with hoodies, gloves and boots. I think we’ll probably come back to do that hike in the summer.
Zion was our first stop on this trip. After our time here, we went up to Bryce Canyon. It was gorgeous in a similar, but very different way. In Zion, we were in the very bottom of the canyon and everything jutted up from where we were standing. On the other hand, in Bryce, we stood at the top of the canyon and looked down into the deep depths of the canyons. I definitely recommend visiting both.
The first night we set up camp, there wasn’t hardly any snow on the ground next to our tent. When we woke up, it had dumped a foot of snow and blanketed the whole landscape. It was truly magical. Many of the waterfalls turned into ice and ice cycles. The brilliantly white snow was in sharp contrast to the bright red rock that the valley is known for. The contrast was beautiful. I did my best to capture it, but I still feel that these pictures don’t do it justice.
The daytime temperatures never got above freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit). That cold kept the crowds off the trails. It also meant that we didn’t need to bring an ice chest. Everything that was perishable was kept plenty cold out in the open. Needless to say, we had plenty of space and time to take in everything that the park had to offer. When hiking we could easily take off all of our layers, but jacket shell because of the warmth from our movement.