We recently shared A Road Trip Guide to the Utah National Parks. With colder weather coming to Utah, I thought it would be the perfect time to share more about the best Utah National Parks to visit in the off-season. Whether you are planning a stay-cation or coming from out of state, I am sharing a list of activities the whole family will enjoy!
On top of getting to see a side of the parks most people do not (because of weather and traffic), you will love the cheaper accommodations, fewer people, and spectacular photo ops. For example, the sunset over Bryce Canyon National Park is beautiful, but add in all of the snow-covered peaks and valleys, and it becomes simply stunning.
The best Utah National Parks to visit in the off-season are Arches, Bryce Canyon and Zion. All of these are really busy from about April through August, but in September – March you will find many advantages.
If you don’t live in Utah or are looking to travel to other National Parks in the off-season, be sure to check out this article from Alamo about 3 of the Best National Parks to visit in the off-season. You can also find a chart with even more National Parks to visit in the off-season!
ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
Best off-season time to visit: October-March
Arches and Canyonlands are right next door to each other so plan on visiting both of these when in the area. Moab, Utah is beautiful any time of year. I grew up close to this area and while it can be chilly in the winter, there isn’t much snow.
I actually enjoy Arches more in the off-season because it can get well over 100 degrees in the summer. On top of that, there are SO MANY people that go there for biking, off-roading, boating and more.
A couple of years ago we visited in March, and it was perfect. Just cold enough for a light jacket (or none at all) and we were able to go everywhere in the park with minimal traffic.
Places like the Sand Dune Arch and Double Arch that are usually packed with people didn’t have anyone or only a few other people there when we visited. The hike up to Delicate Arch was relaxed and not very many people were at the arch, giving us a chance to take some really great pictures. We found accommodations for half (or a third) of the price as well.
Top places to visit in Arches National Park:
- Balanced Rock (0.3 miles round trip)
- The Windows (1-mile round trip)
- Double Arch (0.5-mile round trip)
- Delicate Arch (3 miles round trip)
- Sand Dune Arch (0.3 miles round trip)
- Broken Arch Loop (2 miles round trip)
- Skyline Arch (0.4 miles round trip)
- Park Avenue (1 mile 1-way or hike back for a 2-mile round trip)
Since there usually isn’t snow, you should be able to access most or all of these year-round. Always check at the visitor center before heading out for the latest updates and closures.
ZION NATIONAL PARK
Best off-season time to visit: November – April
Zion National Park is the furthest south, so you will find the warmest weather here. We have gone in the spring and fall and loved it both times. It was chilly enough just for a light jacket and there weren’t near as many people around.
Winter will find you with even fewer people and very rarely snow. The weather is colder, but a jacket, good hiking boots, and a warm hat will keep you plenty protected while you explore everything this amazing park has to offer.
The colder air also means there are WAY fewer people out and about so you can explore the park, take amazing photos and feel like you are in the middle of another planet sometimes.
Zion National Park is beautiful and there is a lot to explore here. Be sure to also venture out to places like the Canyon Overlook Trail that aren’t on the main path. While over there you can see Checkerboard Mesa, Big Horn Sheep and more.
Top places in Zion National Park that you won’t want to miss:
- Riverside Walk (2.2 miles roundtrip)
- Weeping Rock (0.4-mile roundtrip)
- Lower Emerald Pools to Upper Emerald Pools
- Court of the Patriarchs viewpoint
- Canyon Overlook Trail
- Checkerboard Mesa
- Watchman Trail
The Narrows and Angel’s Landing may be inaccessible due to weather. You will have to check or call ahead to see if they are open. If you plan on doing either dress accordingly and take the right supplies.
BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Best off-season time to visit: October – April
Bryce Canyon National Park is cold and snowy in the off-season, but that is part of the draw. The sites you will see will take your breath away. I love visiting here in the regular season as well since there are so many hikes to do. There’s a more limited number of things to do in the winter, but there are fewer people and the snow really changes the way everything looks.
It does get cold here in the off-season so be sure to wear suitable clothing and pack the right supplies for your adventure. You may choose just to drive around and enjoy everything from the viewpoints. This is a great option if you have small kids as well.
There are many areas of the park that are left unplowed in the winter so you can ski/snowshoe in and out to see the sights. Fairyland Road and Paria View Road are a couple. The four Main Amphitheater overlooks (Bryce, Inspiration, Sunset, and Sunrise Points) are well maintained year-round and should be accessible.
Be sure to stop into the visitor center to get information about any trails or areas that you want to visit before heading out to make sure they are open and/or accessible.
Top places to visit in Bryce Canyon National Park are:
- Mossy Cave Hike (0.8-mile round trip)
- Sunset to Sunrise Hike (1-mile round trip)
- Bristlecone Loop (1-mile round trip)
- Navajo Loop (1.3-mile round trip)
- Tower Bridge (3-mile round trip)
- Hat Shop (4-mile round trip)
- 18 miles scenic drive (includes Natural Bridge and Agua Canyon)
Pin the image above to save this for later so you can reference it when planning your next trip. Also, be sure to visit Alamo Rent a Car’s Scenic Route and see all of the great travel tips and itineraries that they have shared.
I hope this list has helped you plan out some fun off-season visits to some of the National Parks in Utah! If you have any questions, please leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer it! Happy travels.