As a hiker who has visited Zion National Park during different seasons, the experience of the park for new visitors can be incredibly different. Zion National Park attracts millions of visitors each year which can directly impact your trip depending on which month you visit. People are attracted to the gorgeous red and orange canyon walls, the beautiful Narrows slot canyons, the hair-raising knife edge hike on Angel’s Landing, the serene emerald pools, and so much more natural beauty. As you plan your trip you’re likely wondering what is the best time of year to visit Zion National Park.
The best time of year to visit Zion National Park is during the Spring in April or May at the start of busy season or after busy season has concluded in October during the Winter months in December or January, when the crowds have thinned out and the snow begins to fall creating a magical winter wonderland of white snow and red orange rocks.
While Zion National Park gets millions of visitors a year, if you plan strategically you can visit the park when there are less visitors and feel like you have the park all to yourself. Visiting the park during the less crowded months means less people on the hiking trails, more open parking spots, cheaper lodging, less car traffic, and a more outdoor adventure feel rather than an amusement park.
When is the busiest time for Zion National Park?
In 2019, Zion National Park attracted over 4.5 million visitors and this number continues to increase every single year. The park’s amazing geological features and world famous Narrows continues to catch the attention of outdoor lovers around the world. Busy season for Zion starts in April and typically concludes in October. However, there are three months that see a significant increase in the number of visitors.
The busiest time for Zion National Park is June, July, and August. During these months more than 500,000 people visit the park. This results in a large increase in people on the trails, filled up park shuttles, parking lots that fill up faster, and more dangerous conditions if you are hiking Angel’s Landing.
If you have a choice, I would avoid visiting the parks during these month as it is significantly hotter and feels very busy. Visiting the park while having to wait in line to use the Angel’s Landing Cable or having hundreds of other hikers in the Narrows with you just takes away from the experience.
When is the least crowded time to visit Zion National Park?
The first time I visited Zion was during the Summer and it felt very hot and crowded. The second time I visited Zion was in the Winter months and the experience was entirely different due to going during the least crowded time to visit Zion National Park.
The least crowded time to visit Zion National Park is in January. The park only sees about 100,000 visitors for the entire month, that’s 5 times less compared to the busy summer months. When I visited the park in January, I only saw a handful of other hikers on the trail, there were no traffic delays, and I had no issues booking lodging.
Busy season starts in April and ends in October. The slower season with less crowds is from November through February. There is a drastic decrease in the number of visitors during these cooler months. Zion National Park is open 365 days a year, so you do not have to worry about park closures during these times.
You can still enjoy a majority of what Zion has to offer during these colder months. You can hike to the emerald pools, climb along the rocky edge of Angel’s Landing, and many other hikes. The things you may miss out on are hiking in the Narrows or hiking the Subway due to frigid water temperatures that keep many hikers out. It is definitely worth visiting the park in both the Summer time and Winter time as the park will seem like two completely different places.
What is the weather like throughout the year for Zion National Park?
The temperatures vary wildly from season to season, but the thing to watch out for is how the temperature affects the water temperature for those of you looking to hike the Narrows. If you prefer to hike in the heat or prefer cooler temperatures, here is the average temperature for Zion National park throughout the year:
- January: Hi: 50 / Lo: 25
- February: Hi: 49 / Lo: 25
- March:Hi: 56 / Lo: 30
- April: Hi: 59 / Lo: 36
- May: Hi: 69 / Lo: 42
- June: Hi: 82 / Lo: 49
- July: Hi: 87 / Lo: 57
- August: Hi: 85 / Lo: 55
- September: Hi: 78 / Lo: 48
- October: Hi: 66 / Lo: 39
- November: Hi: 56 / Lo: 31
- December: Hi: 48 / Lo: 24
Between January through April, the average temperatures is in the low 50’s which results in light snowfall at the higher elevation areas of Zion. The snowfall powdered on the red and orange rocks is a beautiful sight to see and changes the atmosphere of the park, but isn’t enough to close down trails. When I went to hike Observation Point and Angel’s Landing in January there was some ice on the trail, so you may want to consider bringing some micro-spikes to prevent falling.
The temperature begins to pick up and gets significantly hotter in June and the heat continues all the way through September. With the increase in temperature there’s also a huge increase in number of visitors. The warmer temperature also increases the temperatures of the water in the Narrows, so check with a park ranger to see the current water temperatures and water levels.
Zion National Park features a red orange canyon, beautiful towering slot canyons, endless rock climbing, canyoneering, and hundreds of miles of hikes. The best time to visit the park is at the start of busy season in April or May or zigzag and avoid the crowds during the Winter months. Each choice will present you with completely different park visits, but the sights and memories will both be wonderful.