Zion National Park in December - Mike Carr

Zion National Park in December

December in Zion National Park is not your typical winter adventure. Winter here feels more like fall, and the park will only occasionally have a light dusting of snow. Snow changes the scenery drastically and brings so many new possibilities for photography. It also lowers the number of fellow adventurers in the park to a manageable number.

One of the perks of living just outside of Zion is that I have been able to experience it in all its seasons, to see its highs and lows and pass on some of that knowledge. So here are some of my reasons for choosing to visit Zion National Park in December.

Point 1: Observation Point

I’ve done this hike in 3 different seasons, and it’s honestly appealing in all of them. The first time I did it was the day after Christmas, and it was a magical experience. Clouds rolled in as I ascended, and by the time I was on my return trip down the trail, snow began to fall. They were those large flakes that seem to come down in slow motion and muffle all sound so it becomes unbelievably quiet.

Point 2: Frosted Cliffs

Zion doesn’t get enough snow to make the hikes difficult or require heavy-duty boots and coats or anything like that. However, what it does get is a light dusting that clings in patches to the canyon walls and looks almost unnatural for a desert. Unnatural, but breathtaking.

Point 3: No Shuttles

Some people may like the shuttle system, but to me, it’s an obstacle that slows me down and keeps me from doing what I came for—hiking. It also only exists because too many people are in the canyon to allow anyone to drive it. But in December, there is no shuttle and no hoards of people to require it. You can park right at the trailhead of your desired hike. It’s like valet service in the mountains.

Point 4: Everything is Cheaper

I recognize that most of you reading this don’t live 45 minutes from the entrance to Zion like I do. More likely than not, that means hotel rooms, dining out, and renting equipment, all of which cost cold, hard cash that you work hard to make. The beauty of December, and winter in general in this part of the world, is that demand is way down in tourism. This means that everything costs less, which can make traveling on a budget that much more feasible.

Point 5: Everything is Still Open

You can still do all the classic Zion hikes people do in the summer. In fact, your odds of being able to do the Narrows at all are much higher in December than they are in the spring. Water levels are low and stable, and snow buildup generally isn’t enough to close trails. Some notable exceptions to this are some canyoneering routes, a few restaurants, and a couple art galleries.

With so much going on in December, it may be difficult to plan a trip to Zion. But for that very reason, it is worth coming, because almost everyone else won’t. Getting some alone time in a National Park is a rare thing these days. If you have any specific questions about visiting Zion in December, let me know in the comments.