If you’re like most visitors to Zion National Park, you’ve only ever visited the park during the summer months. There’s no shortage of reasons why this is the most popular season in the park. Most schools have a break this time of year. Temperatures are warm and the days are long. Many tourism businesses, like tour companies and restaurants, stay open later to accommodate the crowds.
But just because it’s the most popular season in the park doesn’t mean it’s the best time to visit.
Winter is often called Zion’s Secret Season. Only a small number of Zion’s annual visitors make their way to the park this time of year. However, many more are missing out on this incredible time of year.
If you’re still on the fence about planning a stay in the best hotel Zion has to offer this winter, keep reading. We’re breaking down six reasons to book a stay at Zion Wildflower Resort this winter.
1. Fewer Crowds
If you’ve only ever visited the best hotel Zion has to offer during the summer months, you might think that the park is busy all year long. But this isn’t the case at all.
The months of May through August see the highest number of visitors to the park. June and July see a whopping 13 percent of the park’s annual visitors each, with more than 500,000 people entering the park each month. By comparison, December sees just three percent, with fewer than 140,000 people visiting Zion. January is the least popular month to visit. Less than 100,000 people enter Zion on average in the first month of the year, totaling just two percent of the park’s annual visitors.
If you want to enjoy some of the park’s most popular destinations, this is the month to do so. The Riverside Walk, Canyon Overlook, The Narrows, Weeping Rock, and even Angels Landing see a fraction of the number of hikers this month. If you want to take in the views without the crowds, winter is the time to book your stay in Zion park cabins.
2. Cooler Temperatures
It’s not unusual for Zion National Park to experience triple-digit temperatures during the summer. This can make hiking trails with a lot of elevation gain even more challenging.
If you want to hike some of Zion’s more difficult trails, hiking them in the winter can be a great alternative. While you will need to wear some layers to stay warm, you won’t be sweating it out during your hike.
Think that winter will be too cold for luxury camping near Zion? Think again! With heated blankets or heating units in every luxury glamping tent, you can still enjoy a camping experience at Zion WIldflower Resort.
3. No Shuttle Service
At the end of November, the Zion Canyon Shuttle suspends its service for the winter. With the exception of a week around the holidays at the end of December, it won’t resume daily service again until mid-February.
If you’ve ever wanted to drive through the Lower Canyon in your personal vehicle and take in the sights, and park directly at trailheads, this is the only time of year that you can do so.
4. Permits for Angels Landing are Easier to Get
Dreaming of hiking Angels Landing during your stay in the best hotel Zion has to offer? Winter might just be the best season to do so.
While winter weather can make the trail a little more treacherous, conditions are often dry and clear, making for a great hike. And with fewer people visiting the park this time of year, scoring one of the hard-to-get permits is easier during the winter months.
You’ll still want to try booking your stay in a tent or Zion park cabins early enough to enter the Seasonal Lottery. But if you miss the window or don’t get a permit, you can still apply for the Day-Before Lottery, too.
5. Experience a Winter Wonderland
You don’t have to go all the way to Bryce Canyon National Park to experience a sparkling winter wonderland. Zion National Park sees an average of nine inches of snow each winter. If you’re lucky enough to visit after the park has snowfall, you’ll be treated to a uniquely beautiful view of the park that few of its millions of annual visitors ever get to see.
The views are great from every part of the park. But some hikes in particular offer the best views this time of year. Riverside Walk is one must-see after a fresh snow. The trees that line this trail become covered in snow, and stand out in stark contrast to the red rock walls of the canyon. At the trail’s turnaround point, you’ll get to see the start of The Narrows, and the cold water of the Virgin River with its riverbanks lined in snow and ice.
6. Day Trip to Bryce Canyon National Park
There are plenty of things to see and do in Zion during the winter months. But if you’re planning a stay in the best hotel Zion has to offer this time of year, you should also plan a day trip to Bryce Canyon National Park.
Bryce Canyon sees more annual snowfall than Zion. The roads in the park close to vehicle traffic when the snow begins to fall. Visitors to the park can go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to access the park’s trails and overlooks.
Planning a Winter Stay in the Best Hotel Zion Has to Offer
If you want to experience fewer crowds, cooler temperatures, and the chance to enjoy some fun day trips, you’ll definitely want to plan a winter visit to the best hotel Zion has to offer!