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Visiting Zion National Park This Winter? Here’s What You Need to Know

One of the best ways to beat the crowds in a national park is to go in the off season. If you want to avoid the traffic, visiting Zion National Park in the winter is a smart move. However, with the colder months comes winter weather. Visitors to national parks in the winter should also expect limited services and even the closures of certain areas.

Zion National Park officials recently announced a new shuttle schedule that kicked off this week. This includes the following updates:

  • The fall shuttle service in Zion Canyon and Springdale has ended.
  • Visitors can now drive personal vehicles on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Previously, park officials limited this drive to shuttles only.
  • Even in the off season, Zion is still very popular, so plan for limited parking. Park officials say once a lot is full, they may limit visitor access.

During the winter holidays—from Friday, December 22 to Sunday, December 31—this all gets reversed. Park officials will resume shuttle services. They will also close Zion Canyon Road to personal vehicles. Once we hit January, the winter schedule resumes. 

zion in the winter
Zion National Park can see snow in the wintertime. (Source: Anubhav Saxena)

Winter Camping in Zion

Many winter days struggle to get above 50 degrees Fahrenheit in Zion, with the nights below freezing. Like the temperature, the demand for camping plummets. As a result, South Campground and Lava Point Campground close for the season. However, Watchman Campground is open year-round. Visitors can make a reservation on Recreation.gov.

Visitors should be prepared for winter camping. For those tent camping, remember these layering tips:

  • The base layer—like long johns—should be made out of moisture-wicking material so it doesn’t absorb moisture and keep you wet. 
  • A warming layer, or mid-layer, serves as insulation. Most people like wearing fleece. 
  • The waterproof layer is precisely what it sounds like. It’s a shell that shields the other layers from getting wet. 

Otherwise, an RV or car camping may be the way to go.

Zion National Park officials say visitors should expect changes to the park operations in the spring, but they won’t know until 2024 when those changes will go into place.

base layers for the cold
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