Best time of year to visit Zion National Park:
Spring and early summer are the best time to visit Zion National Park. Though, Fall is also another amazing time of year to visit as well. The weather is perfect and the scenery is gorgeous, but summertime crowds are in full force.
Zion National Park’s famous Zion Narrows trail gets extremely busy during the summer months because of all the day-hikers coming up from Springdale and Virgin.
The best month to visit Zion National Park:
June-August is the busiest time to visit Zion – the weather is decent, but not perfect.
Summer temps can get up into the 90’s and above with high humidity making it feel even hotter. Clouds cool things down a bit, but they don’t block out all the heat either.
Winter months are cold, snowy, and icy in Zion National Park. The average winter lows hover around 30 degrees(F) at night and 40-50 degrees(F) during the day – yes it does snow in Zion! However, sometimes there are stretches of milder weather where daytime temps will reach 50 degrees (F).
Winter blizzards bring a significant chance of snow showers or big storms – more than 6 inches accumulated within 24 hours.
February is the coldest month and it’s a perfect time to enjoy cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in Zion National Park, which many companies offer guided tours for. Usually, March is the first good window of warmer weather that really kicks off Spring.
Spring months are milder temperatures during the day with occasional rain showers. Zion gets hit by storms rolling up from California – these can bring precipitation all throughout spring into early summer.
July-August is still warm and busy as Fall approaches, so I’d recommend visiting any time between February-June if you want ideal conditions for hiking Zion Narrows in Spring/Summer/Early Fall seasons.
May & October will have variable weather but overall it’s too cool for hiking Zion Narrows in Winter.
Zion National Park Weather Forecast:
Generally, during October through April expect cooler temperatures during the day and colder nights with freezing lows up to 25 degrees(F) below zero.
It’s possible that we can get a good snowstorm or two in the winter months with an accumulation of 2-6 inches on the ground at any time.
During Spring & Fall, there is plenty of rain – lots of thunderstorms that can roll into town bringing rain showers almost daily (figuring around 10 days out of 30 will bring some sort of precipitation).
Summertime brings mostly sunny days along with late afternoon storms/thunderstorms – usually lasting until the early hours of the night which clears things up for stargazing!
Summer brings abundant sunshine but it’s not very predictable or consistent…sometimes we get many consecutive days of hot weather, other times we might have periods of cooler temperatures which makes for some pretty chilly nights.
Overall the thunderstorms and rain bring great relief to the summer temps because there is no shade in Zion National Park – all the trees are deciduous, so they lose their leaves come winter.
High tourist season:
Spring, Summer, and Early Fall are the busiest times to visit Zion National Park.
The most popular months being May through October – this is when you’ll see more crowds. The weekends during the Spring season will be especially busy!
This is true for all of Utah’s National Parks…the high tourist season is April-October with June being the peak month (followed by July & August).
Winter months can be cold and snowy, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any tourists because every year people flock to Zion for snowshoeing or cross country skiing. In fact, my husband and I love wintertime at Zion NP because we find ourselves surrounded by natural beauty all alone without a single soul in sight!
Low tourist season:
November through February is the park’s off-season.
The first snowstorm will usually hit in November bringing down both air & overnight temperatures along with it. It can feel pretty cold at Zion National Park especially at night so dress accordingly!
If you’re planning to hike the Narrows during the high season (May – September), then you’ll want to make reservations for your permit as soon as possible by clicking here.
Even in the low season, there are still a handful of permits reservations available starting January 1st on a weekly basis. However, not all trails require reservations in order to hike them, but some do have quotas to meet only allowing so many hikers per day.
Best Time to Hike the Narrows:
The best time to hike the Narrows is April through mid-June.
The water levels are moderate in spring and summer (usually 4-7ft deep at the lower elevations) so you don’t risk getting your feet soaked or trapped by flash floods, but they’re still flowing enough that it’s not difficult to get downriver.
When hiking Zion National Park in Winter, we can expect between 2-8 ft of snow on the valley floor making the entire experience a little more exciting if you’re looking for adventure! Plan ahead for this snowy wonderland…be ready with waterproof boots & have proper winter gear (food, extra clothing layers, etc).
All year long from early morning until late evening will be busy on all of the trails so plan accordingly!
For the Narrows hike, most of the required permits can be reserved in advance. However, there are still a few that cannot on a first-come, first-serve basis…you can call and check before heading down to the park. Go here for all of the details regarding Zion’s hiking permit policies.
The Upper Narrows – May 15th through June 30th (reservations highly recommended) The Lower Narrows – June 1st through August 31st (reservations highly recommended) Emerald Pools Trails – April 20th through October 1st (permits available on a no-need basis) Riverside Walk/Weeping Rock Trail – April 25th through October 1st
(permits available on a no-need basis) Observation Point Trail – May 15th through October 1st (limited permits available on a first-come, first-serve basis) Angels Landing – May 20th through October 31st (first come, first serve/no reservations accepted)
The Narrows hike requires you to get wet & muddy so make sure you wear the right gear…
In Zion National Park there are four hiking trail options including The Narrows, Upper Emerald Pool, Lower Emerald Pool, and Riverside Walk.
Each of these trails has its own unique location in the park that will allow you to take photos throughout your hikes. If you’re up for an adventure then it’s advisable to reserve a permit and hike the Upper Narrows in Zion National Park. It’s an unforgettable experience that you’ll never forget (and neither will your feet!).
Best Time to See Fall Colors:
Fall colors in Zion National Park can be seen from October through November. When checking the weather ahead of time, you’ll want to make sure that there are no storms coming your way…it’s a good idea to be down at the parks as soon as possible so it doesn’t take away from your experience by getting caught inside when storms roll in!
The weather will be cooler than the summer months, but warm enough without feeling too cold to walk around in comfort.
Depending on the amount of precipitation during these months, it can still rain during this season so make sure you pack plenty of clothing layers! It may be chilly walking up some of the trails, but they’re well worth it when you get to see all of that fall color splashed across the sandstone cliffs.
When hiking Zion National Park at any time of year, always remember to bring your camera along and take pictures at every turn!
If you love high adventure (or if you just want a little taste) then my husband and I highly recommend start small by first taking an easy stroll along Riverside Walk
Visit Zion National Park in Fall:
I love the Fall season at Zion National Park – it’s definitely my favorite time of year. The weather is pleasant and enjoyable for hiking since it’s still warm during the day only dropping to a low of 25 degrees(F) below zero at night. We’re still getting rain showers, but usually, they are lighter and last for a shorter duration.
The foliage has changed into beautiful shades of reds, oranges, yellows, & browns which makes for some amazing scenery while on your hikes!
You get a small dose of snow in Zion National Park (meaning we might get an inch or two overnight), but that melts by mid-morning so it’s not enough to stop most people from visiting. The upper areas of the canyons are really stunning in the Fall compared to the summertime when everything is lush green.
As far as hiking goes – you can still do Angel’s Landing, Observation Point, and The Narrows just like you could during summer. The trails are wide enough for most people to hike without problems.
I would NOT recommend doing Kolob Canyons or Zion Canyon Trails because those require chains to hold onto due to steep drop-offs…I would only consider doing these trails in Spring/Early Summer before it gets too hot out!
As far as camping goes – there is plenty of space available for camping on a first-come basis at both campsites & tent cabins. However, there are quotas that are enforced on some of the campsites in Spring and Summer. If you want to avoid those ones, you can reserve a spot for yourself up until 6 months in advance.
Visit Zion National Park in winter:
Yes, Virginia, you CAN go hiking at Zion National Park in the dead of winter. We’ve been there twice during January and February when the temps dip down into the teens (Fahrenheit) overnight only to rise up to 40 degrees during the day!
While we did see snow covering parts of the ground most of it melted by morning making for a picturesque hike while taking in some amazing scenery. We bundled up with extra warm clothes just like everyone else was doing…as far as hiking goes:
You can do Angel’s Landing and Observation Point without any problems since those trails are very wide (no chains) Hiking The Narrows is possible too because those are wider trails that have been shared by many hikers in the past. This is what the Virgin River looks like in wintertime..very pretty!
I would NOT recommend doing Kolob Canyons or Zion Canyon Trails because they’re narrow and have chains that you need to hold onto due to steep drop-offs…but I would only consider doing these trails in Spring/Early Summer before it gets too hot out! As far as camping goes – there is plenty of space available for camping on a first-come basis at both campsites & tent cabins. However, there are quotas that are enforced on some of the campsites in Spring and Summer. You can avoid those ones if you want by reserving a spot-up until 6 months in advance.
I’d like to give a huge shout-out and thank you to Zion National Park for having such an amazing website with all the information one might need on it! You’re my go-to site when I’m looking for info on any of the National Parks I want to visit! Now, onto my personal opinions.
Visit Zion National Park in the summer:
On the other hand, if you’re a summer person who mostly enjoys mild weather and hot sunny days – Zion National Park during this time is absolutely amazing! The park is usually packed with people because it’s the height of tourist season.
The waterfalls run full force (2nd highest elevation for waterfalls in North America), there are tons of hiking trails to choose from depending on your preference, many places to camp according to what type you prefer most.
You can swim at Sand Beach & Observation Point Lake without too much trouble although I’d still recommend going understaffed times like mid-morning or in the early evening. (It’s not uncommon for staff members to come by and hose everything down to prevent people from getting sick.)
The Virgin River runs at a fast pace and is relatively wide in the mid-section of Zion National Park…so you can kayak or tube down without much trouble. Kayaking down the Virgin is fun because there are lots to look around while going down the river. There are little waterfalls, cliffs, and interesting rock formations that make for good pictures!
Visit Zion National Park in spring:
Zion National Park in Spring is absolutely breathtaking. If you’re into wildflowers then this is the place to be during April and May. The air is fresh, waterfalls are flowing as high as they will go for the year, temperatures are just right all day long making it a perfect time to hike (no matter what trail).
Wildlife abounds here …and we were lucky enough to see several deer while hiking Angel’s Landing in Springtime!
Kayaking down the Virgin River is also an option because the river levels rise up due to increased rainfall flows. I’d recommend going understaffed times like mid-morning or in the early evening. (It’s not uncommon for staff members to come by and hose everything down to prevent people from getting sick.)
Weather in Zion National Park:
Zion National Park is located near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which is an area that has less than 10 inches of rain per year. So there are times (like in Summer) when it pretty much never rains at all.
but if you want to be certain that there’s no chance of rain then go understaffed hours or in the early morning/mid-day.for sure!
(It’s not uncommon for staff members to come by and hose everything down to prevent people from getting sick.) It should also be noted that Zion National Park covers a large range of altitude levels which can affect weather depending on where you’re going and what season it is.
Tips for Planning a Trip to Zion National Park:
There are several things to keep in mind depending on what area you want to visit.
If all you’re here for is a day trip then I’d suggest:
1) Parking at Zion Canyon Visitor Center (The shuttle stop will be just a little bit down the road toward The Grotto.)
2) Do Lava Point & Emerald Pools Hike
3) Shuttle back up to the visitor’s center or take a taxi ride. It’ll cost about $6 one way for them to drive you back. 4) Go into/around Springdale, UT for food, souvenirs, and shopping.
I personally wouldn’t stay in Springdale because it’s pretty “touristy” compared to the rest of the park.
If you’re looking for just one hike…then I’d suggest:
1) Lava Point (best in spring) 2) Upper Emerald Pool (best in summer or fall)
3) Lower Emerald Pool (best in the springtime because it’s a short hike in & out.)
4) Observation Point (amazing scenery, but very tough hike!)
5 ) Angels Landing
6 ) Other hikes depending on what time of year and how much time you have. Parking at Zion Canyon Visitor Center is easy compared to other areas of the park such as East & West Zion! The shuttle stop will be just a little bit down the road toward The Grotto.
It’ll cost about $6 one way for them to drive you back. Zion Canyon has a few different entrances, but this is the most “commercialized” area of the park & can be accessed by car (but I don’t recommend it.) There are shuttle stops at various locations such as The Grotto, Riverside Walk, Zion Lodge, and more.
It’s best to check their website for specific times if you’re going to hike/go somewhere within Zion National Park!