Baby It’s Cold Outside – What to Expect this Fall/Winter Season at Zion Canyon
There’s nothing better during fall and winter than being surrounded by the gorgeous scenery of Zion Canyon. The leaves changing colors and raining down over the trials as the cool autumn air rushes through the canyon walls; The first snowflakes of the season starting to fall are a sight to see. While all these changes make for the perfect photo op., they also call for changes to the schedules and routes available in Zion Canyon.
Here is what you need to know to make your fall and winter getaways worthwhile!
The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, is normally accessible by shuttle bus from March 1 through November 13. Although the shuttle has “shut down for the season”, it will continue to run on weekends only through the month of November. Remember, even during the “off season” the Shuttle Schedule can always change. Be sure to check at the shuttles stops for the most current information.
When Shuttle Services are not available, please keep in mind the following when it comes to parking within the Park:
Parking is limited inside of Zion Canyon.
Parking is available at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center. Remember, on busier days it is almost always full by mid-morning.
Other parking is available throughout the park, but is extremely limited. When looking for parking please remember:
Park in designated areas only!
If a parking lot is full, don’t wait for a spot to open up. Try to move on and try again later. You don’t want to block traffic flow while you wait for a parking stall to open up.
Do not park on vegetation or in a way that will block the traffic in the park.
Remember during the season when the shuttles are not running, Zion Canyon will still fill up with crowds. The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive will close off to traffic one all legal parking spaces are filled up. This happens to make sure that emergency vehicle will be able to access trailheads and visitors in case of an emergency. With these changes being made, please be prepared with an alternate plan during this fall season!
Zion Canyon Facilities
During the fall season the hours of facilities located within Zion Canyon change to accommodate the available light to help ensure the safety of all those visiting the park.
Hours of Operation
Sept. 6 to Oct. 8
Oct. 9 – Nov. 26
Zion Canyon Visitor Center
8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Zion Canyon Wilderness Desk
7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Zion Human History Museum
9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Kolob Canyons Visitor Center
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Campgrounds in Zion
Camping in Zion is an excellent way to kickstart your adventure and to avoid the wait to get into the park. Zion offers 3 campgrounds: South Campground and Watchman Campground, located within Zion Canyon, and Lava Point Campground which is located about an hour north on the Kolob Terrace Road. During regular season, March through mid-November, each campsite offers a permit good for 14 days. After this season and additional 30 day permit is available to the rest of the year.
Campsites in Zion are drive-up and have a restriction of two vehicles. You are allowed to have only one RV or trailer in your campsite. Any RV (including motorhomes, cabover campers and camper vans) or any trailer that has a 5th wheel, cargo trailer, boat trailers, or pop-up campers will count toward your two vehicle limit. Each campground has additional overflow parking for extra vehicles. Each campsite allows for a maximum of three tents and six people so plan accordingly.
Like camping anywhere, be sure to check weather conditions for your desired camping dates. Camping in the fall and winter months not only offers cooler temperatures during the day, but colder temperatures at night. Be sure to pack the appropriate clothing and camping gear necessary for your canyon evening under the stars.
Weather Conditions for Zion Canyon
It is important to be aware of any limitations that the changing weather might have on your trip to Zion. Knowing what to expect in advance can help in your preparations for a weekend of family fun.
The following, generally speaking, is what to expect weather wise for a trip to Zion Canyon during the Fall and Winter!
Cooler temperatures and drier weather finally break free from the summer heat, making it the ideal time to visit Zion Canyon. As you hike along the Virgin River, you’ll get to experience the changing cottonwoods and maples that splash fall colors all around the canyon and trials.
While the cooler weather makes it easier to hike and to go canyoneering, be sure to check the weather forecast for flash flood warnings as well as the temperature of the river before you dive into the adventure. Remember that temperatures during the night and day can change as drastically as 30 degrees. Keep in mind that dressing in layers, although it might seem like a hassle, can help prepare you for the drastic changes in temperatures.
Winters in Zion Canyon are cold and can often be wet. Dressing accordingly will be key to staying warm for an enjoyable time at the park. Temperatures can range anywhere from a high 50-60 degrees and can drop below freezing at night. Almost half of the annual rainfall/precipitation in Zion Canyon falls during the months of December to March.
While roads are plowed, many trials may become closed due to snow and ice, especially hikes and trails in the higher elevations. After storms, snow will normally melt within a few hours on the lower elevation trials. Keep in mind that as the temperatures rise during the early spring, the melting snow can cause high water levels in the canyon. If you’re ever in doubt of the conditions, don’t hesitate to locate the park for more information!
For a truly unique Zion experience come see her in her winter colors. Avoid the crowds, avoid the heat and enjoy the quieter side of Zion.