Here’s a secret we’d like to share with you – winter can actually be one of the best times to visit Utah’s national parks. Many people mistakenly think about the parks in terms of March to November. But we at the Lodge at Red River Ranch are here to tell you otherwise. We’ve put together a quick list of reason why you should stop by any of Utah’s national parks this winter. We think if give ’em a try, you’ll have just as fun as in the summer.
Goodbye People, Hello Elbow Room – The first, and maybe the best reason, is that you’ll have less people to contend with when visiting the wonders of the parks. This way you can experience a little bit of solitude amidst the beauty of nature. Which, in our book, is a pretty good trade for a little cold. Winter is also considered the “off-season” in many of the towns that are adjacent to the national parks, sometimes it’s the when you can find the best rates.
Special Perks – Some parks have special winter programs available to the public. For example, did you know you can go on a guided snowshoe hike in Bryce Canyon National Park? They even have a Full Moon Snowshoe Hike, so you can seamlessly combine your twin loves of astronomy and winter hiking. And in Zion National Park you are (usually) allowed to drive your own car up Zion Canyon in the winter, instead of taking the shuttle. (If you’ve ever been on their fully-packed shuttle in the summer, you’ll understand why this is a perk.)
A New Depth to the Scenery – If you’ve visited Southern Utah before during the summer, you may be surprised by how different it can look in the winter. Whether you get caught in a cloud bank on the Zion-Mount Carmel road, or simply see a dusting of powder on the monoliths on Capitol Reef, you will get to experience a more unique beauty in the parks. And it’s a beauty that fewer people get to experience.
(Mostly) Always Hike-able – Who wants to go to a national park and not be able to hike? A lot of people worry that winter will ruin any chance of hitting the trails. And, while we will admit that during a heavy snowfall, you probably won’t be able to do much hiking, Southern Utah has lots and lots of sunny days during the winter. So as long as you check the weather before you go, you should be able to hike away.
Some of the trails can become icy, especially on the inclines, so be sure to bring some extra traction for your boots.
Did We Mention the Sun? – If you’re located further north then we are, you’ll unfortunately see a lot more gray days then we will. It can be therapeutic to get out, get some fresh air and see the sun shining. And what better place then in a national park?
So to sum it all up, winter in the national parks has plenty to offer – special perks, fresh air, fewer crowds and fantastic scenery. Maybe we’ve convinced you, maybe not. But the best way to be convinced to try a winter trip to a national park yourself.