When is the Best Time to Visit Zion National Park?
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Are you wondering when the best time to visit Zion National Park is? Then, you’re in the right place!
If you live around Utah, then you’ve probably had a trip to Zion National Park marked on your calendar during the summer months.
And hate to break it to you, but so does everyone else. In fact, Zion is the 4th most visited national park in the United States, so you can imagine, a lot of people go there daily.
And 70% of Zion’s visitors come during April to September every year, the average number of daily visitors in those months is around 17,000 people.
So then when IS the best time to visit Zion National Park? Well, that really depends on what you’re looking for.
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When is the best time to visit Zion National Park?
Let’s be honest, we all love summer, but in southern Utah, the temperatures are so hot they are almost comical.
The heat can already be overwhelming; I shouldn’t even mention the thousands and thousands of people that are around every bend on a trail and fill the park shuttles up to the brim.
So if I HAD to choose, I would say that the fall season is the best time to visit Zion National Park. The temperatures are pretty mild, the leaves are painted with those comforting oranges and reds, and the park is still running on its regular availability.
Best Time to go to Zion National Park by Type
- Fewest crowds: Visiting the park anytime between October and March will ensure you a less crowded visit, but January is the best month to visit Zion National Park for a true escape from the crowds.
- Best for hiking: Hiking in Zion is best in the summer and fall months due to the generally consistent weather, but be sure to check the forecast, so you don’t get caught in a thunderstorm.
- For camping: If you’re looking to camp, May to September is going to be your best time to visit Zion National Park, but maybe skip July if you want to avoid the heat.
- Best weather: Although Zion is beautiful all year round, visiting the park from October to November is top tier for great weather and stunning fall colors.
Visiting Zion National Park by the Season
Spring in Zion
Springtime in Zion National Park is full of blossoming wildflowers and clement weather. The temperature stays around the mid-sixties to mid-seventies, making this time of year one of the best for exploring in the park.
Although the busy season starts ramping up this time of year, chances are you won’t get to experience too much solidarity in the spring. This is a popular time to visit the park, with about 400,000 visitors in both April and May.
Pros & Cons of Visiting Zion in the Spring:
- Pro: This is a great time to see waterfalls and water levels at their highest.
- Con: Spring break and warmer temperatures bring a lot of visitors to the park, so it can be hard to avoid crowds.
- Pro: Vibrant plant life and animal life make their appearance after long winters.
- Pro: After the winter, the park will have reopened fully, so park services are always available.
- Con: It might still be a little cold for camping.
Zion Spring Activities:
- Emerald pools are some of the waterfalls that emerge from the snow runoff; worth a trip in the spring to see!
- This is the best time of the year to hike Angel’s Landing.
- Visit Zion’s Hidden Canyon.
Tips for Visiting in the Spring:
- If you’re planning to camp, make sure to bring items to keep you warm at night.
- Bring a light jacket for exploring the park, the mornings will be a little chilly.
- With all the wildlife reemerging, be sure to clean up after yourself and keep the furry locals safe.
Summer in Zion
Have kids in school? Or you can only get work off in the summer? Then the months of June-August will be your best time to go to Zion National Park. Unfortunately, it’s also the best time for every other family in America.
The park averages about 500,000 visitors a month during the summer. And although Zion is beautiful all year round, the temperature highs can be staggering, often shooting above 100 degrees.
But if you’re a fan of warm weather and having plenty of family-friendly activities, you’ll love summertime here!
Pros & Cons of Visiting Zion in the Summer:
- Con: Honestly, summer is BUSY, and you’ll be hard-pressed to take a picture without a few photobombers.
- Pro: This is one of the only times of the year you can hike The Narrows, which is well worth the crowds, I promise.
- Pro: Even the overnight temperatures are warm.
- Con: Chances are good that you will encounter a thunderstorm.
- Con: Accommodations around the park are more expensive this time of year.
Zion Summer Activities:
- Hike. The. Narrows. Repeating myself because you can not go wrong with this extraordinary hike.
- The days are longer, so pack in as much exploring as you can take.
Tips for Visiting in the Summer:
- Bring lots of water!
- Start early and get cooler temperatures.
- Book your campsites and other events early. The spots go fast.
Fall in Zion
The fall is the best time of year to visit Zion National Park if you’re looking for the prettiest fall colors and avoiding the mass of visitors in the summer.
In fact, this season brings in over 100,000 fewer visitors per month than summer does. The temperatures in October don’t reach about 80 degrees, and they drop to about 65 in November. Pretty much everything available in the summer will still be available in the fall.
Pros & Cons of Visiting Zion in the Fall:
- Pro: This is the only other season you can hike The Narrows in; however, the water will likely be much cooler.
- Con: The nights of cold camping are back, so once again, be sure to bundle up!
- Pro: The fall colors, duh.
- Pro: Great temperatures for hiking and exploring.
- Con: Holiday weekends, like Labor Day and Thanksgiving, can rival the summer crowds.
Zion Fall Activities:
- Hiking The Narrows!
- And just hiking in general, there is no better time to visit Zion for hiking.
- Check out Observation Point, Angels Landing, and Hidden Canyon.
Tips for Visiting in the Fall:
- Visit during late October, early November for the best fall colors.
- Pack warm!
- The park shuttle runs a little slower in the fall, so get started early so you can hit all the trails you want to.
Winter in Zion
The best time of year to go to Zion National Park to avoid the crowds is definitely from December to March. January often only gets about 90,000 visitors each year. Temperatures don’t reach higher than around 50 but can drop to below 30 degrees.
Some of the snowfall during this time of year prevents visitors from embarking on some of the hikes. And yet, you can never go wrong with the scenery. Even if the ground is covered with snow, the looming canyons and red rock walls never get old.
Pros & Cons of Visiting Zion in the Winter:
- Pro: If you really want to be one with nature, the winter is the best time to visit Zion National Park. The solitude is unmatched.
- Pro: Shuttles don’t run during the weekdays, so you can drive your own vehicle on the Zion Canyon Road.
- Con: Some trails are closed or require snow spikes to hike.
- Pro: Because of the lack of visitors, sighting wildlife is a commonplace thing in the winter.
- Con: Only the Watchman campground is available for use and is first-come, first-serve.
Zion Winter Activities:
- Hiking the ground trails in most likely complete solitude.
- Participating in the token winter activities, like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
- You’re able to actually drive the Zion Canyon Road, this is the only time of year you’ll get to do that!
Tips for Visiting in the Spring:
- Because there aren’t going to be many other visitors around when you visit, make sure to bring all your hiking essentials in case of emergency.
- Bring LOTS of layers, it’s not if you’ll get cold, it’s when.
You could argue that any time of year is the best time to visit Zion National Park, and I don’t think you’d be wrong.
Every season, every month, in fact, has something beautiful and unique to offer to visitors.
And I know summer does have some cons, but if that’s the only time you’re able to visit the park, I promise you won’t regret it! It’s still the same park, there just might be thousands more people than you’d want to have with you.
But if you are looking to maximize the time you’ll spend there, the fall season would be my suggestion. You’ll get the most out of the scenery, the hiking, camping, and the weather can’t be beat.
Utah is one of the coolest states in the USA. Check out more of our Utah posts below!
- 11 Zion National Park Easy Hikes
- One Day in Zion National Park Itinerary
- Where to Stay When Visiting Bryce Canyon
- 8 Amazing Spots for Stargazing in Zion National Park
- How to Spend One Day in Bryce Canyon National Park
- Tips for Visiting Bryce Canyon in Winter
- 13 Best Things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park
- 13 of the Best Hikes at Bryce Canyon National Park
- 12 Best Spots for Glamping Near Zion National Park
- 9 Best Photo Spots in Zion National Park