You may have been planning a trip to Utah to see Zion National Park for months or even years. The thought of world-famous hiking routes such as the Narrows and Angels Landing has you frothing. But going at the wrong time of year could lead to disappointment. What is the best month to visit Zion National Park?
The best month to visit Zion National Park is November. You will find the park relatively uncrowded, the weather mild, and the fall colors spectacular. Most hikes are still possible, and the park is highly accessible. The shuttles still run, and camping is a pleasant experience.
- Location: Zion National Park; 1 Zion Park Blvd.; State Route 9; Springdale, UT 84767
- Entrance Fee: 7-day weekly pass $20 per person / $35 per private vehicle; annual pass $70, senior annual pass $20, military annual pass free; veterans and Gold Star families free access. Anyone 15 or under enters free year-round.
- Getting There: Fly into McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. From Las Vegas, drive north on I-15, take exit 16 and stay right on SR9 East to Zion National Park. From Salt Lake City, go south on 1-15, take exit 27 and stay left on SR-17 South for 26 miles. Stay left on SR-9 East to Zion National Park.
- How Long To Stay: 5-7 days to see the main attractions.
- Best Time Of Year: April and November. We recommend visiting when it is cooler and less crowded.
Why November Is The Best Month To Visit Zion National Park
If you visit in November, you will have access to the whole park without the summer crowds, and the weather, although getting chilly, is still mild, and you won’t need more than a light jacket. The fall colors of red maples and yellow cottonwoods are stunning and contrast against the brown and coral sandstone, making November an excellent time for photography.
We recommend early November, as it won’t have gotten too cold yet. The average temperatures in Zion Canyon in November are a low of 37 at night and a high of 63 by day. Prices for accommodation and other services are also lower in November.
The Zion shuttle buses are still running in November, and you can hire a bike in Springdale to ride the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and catch the shuttle (all shuttles have bike racks).
Start your day early to avoid the crowds even more, and increase your chances of seeing wildlife. Because Thanksgiving can be busy, visit in the week before or after Thanksgiving. Weekdays are considerably less busy than weekends.
Hiking Zion National Park In November
November makes for the best hiking in Zion. You avoid the high summer temperatures (over 100 degrees) and the spring runoff and late summer monsoon season, which can make hiking the Narrows dangerous. The water levels are much lower in November, and the risk of flash flooding is less.
You will need to hire a dry suit to hike the Narrows, as the water will be icy, but you will have a much less crowded experience.
If you want to hike the extremely popular hikes such as Angels Landing, you will find these highly congested in summer, whereas, by late fall, crowds have thinned out a lot. You also avoid the extreme heat and thunderstorms of summer. November is an excellent time to hike this trail, as you should attempt this hike only if the weather is fair.
The fall colors also make for particularly spectacular hiking and backpacking, with trails to high elevation affording panoramic views of the cottonwoods and maples against the sandstone. You will also have more of a solitary wilderness experience in November.
Be aware if you are hiking in November, days are shorter, and if you do not wish to be hiking at night, you should bear this in mind. However, night hikes can be a lot of fun and allow you to stargaze, so as long as you prepare adequately for darkness, there is no reason why you should not enjoy the park at night.
Camping In Zion National Park In November
Camping is hard to beat for truly experiencing the beauty of Zion National Park, which is why it’s so popular. Watchman Campground is open year-round, and South Campground is open till the Monday after Thanksgiving in November. Camping in November allows you to avoid the heat and the summer crowds, but make sure to book in plenty of time.
The only campground you won’t be able to access in November is Lava Point Campground off Kolob Terrace Road. If you must visit in summer, we recommend trying Lava Point.
Visit Zion National Park In June To Hike The Narrows
Despite all we have said about November being the best time to visit Zion, if you want to hike the magnificent hike through the Narrows and do so in comfort, we recommend visiting in June.
Yes, you will contend with crowds and summer heat. The best way to deal with that is to spend the rest of your time camping or backpacking in the Kolob Canyons section of the park and only visit Zion Canyon to do the Narrows.
Spring snowmelt often causes dramatic rises in the water level, and the risk of flash flooding is high from July through September. But June provides relatively low water levels and warm water, so if you wish to hike the Narrows, especially if you are a family, this is the month we recommend.
Visit Zion National Park In January For A Quiet Vacation
We recommend visiting in January for the quietest Zion experience: January is historically the month with the fewest visitors.
You will also be able to take advantage of low accommodation prices and relatively mild winter weather. Temperatures range from overnight lowers of 25 degrees to daytime highs around 50, meaning that you won’t have to wrap up very warmly to enjoy the trails.
Snow on the landscape in eastern Zion or on the upper peaks in Zion Canyon, plus higher river levels, rainfall, and mist around the waterfalls, makes for a different and beautiful landscape with plenty of excellent photo opportunities.
Winter is an excellent time to see large animals such as bighorn sheep, deer, and elk in the canyon. You will also see eagles and wild turkeys.
January also falls right into the middle of the time when shuttles don’t run in Zion, and you can drive your own car along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, giving you greater comfort and convenience. You can stop at designated stops to take pictures or short hikes.
Speaking of hiking Zion in winter, most trails are open, but you should be wary of ice on routes such as Weeping Rock, Riverside Walk, Emerald Pools, and Angels Landing. Traction aids such as crampons and Yaktrax are recommended.
The East Rim Trail to Observation Point is usually icy, and rangers recommend that only experienced snow hikers attempt it. However, you can hike, snowshoe, or cross-country ski across Zion Ponderosa Lodge’s forested plateau to Observation Point. The view from here is especially incredible in winter.
Although there are few bad times to visit Zion, we recommend avoiding summer as it is incredibly crowded and hot. The only reason you should visit in June is to do the Narrows hike.
January will give you a quiet winter vacation with low prices and excellent photo opportunities. However, November is the best month for hiking, camping, and other activities in Zion, striking a balance between good weather and low crowds. Plus, you get fantastic fall colors!