Zion National Park might be tucked away in the red sandy desert of Utah, but the weather changes quite drastically throughout the year. Summer is hot with thunderstorms and winter often brings snow at higher elevations. Although the park is open all year, certain trails like The Narrows and Angel’s Landing can be too cold to enjoy in the winter months. Check out this Zion weather guide to help you plan your trip. 

Zion National Park weather by month

MONTH

AVERAGE HIGH (°F)  

AVERAGE LOW (°F)  

January 

50

24.8

February

48.2

24.8

March

55.4

33.8

April

59

35.6

May 69.8 42.8
June  82.4 50
July 87.8 57.2
August  84.2 55.4
September 77 48.2
October  66.2 39.2
November  55.4 30.2
December  48.2 23

Best time to go to Zion National Park

Zion national park can be enjoyed all year round and each season offers something different. 

Spring

Best for: avoiding huge crowds, hiking, seeing wildflowers, waterfalls, wildlife watching 

Spring in Zion National Park sees longer and warmer days with chilly nights, so bring plenty of warm layers. It’s an awesome time for hiking and cycling with plenty of sunshine and crisp spring air. Some sections of the park at higher elevations might still be closed depending on the amount of snowfall unless you have proper snow gear. The Zion Canyon valley starts to bloom with leafy green vegetation, the Virgin River is in full flow and gorgeous wildflowers start to bloom from mid-April – overall it’s a lush time to visit! The only downside is that crowds start to arrive from April, but it’s still way less hectic than summer. 

Summer

Best for: hiking, ranger-led activities, park facilities, park accessibility 

May to September is the peak season with up to half a million visitors every month. The plus side is that all facilities are open, there’s plenty of ranger-led activities on and you have plenty of daylight to explore. The monsoon season is from mid-July to September so be prepared for intense rain, thunder, lightning and flash floods (more on that very shortly). If you’re out exploring Zion in the summer, be a responsible traveler and look after yourself. This means bringing enough water, packing suitable clothing, checking updates and weather forecasts, knowing your limits and staying topped up with sunscreen.

Fall

Best for: hiking, cycling, mountain biking, avoiding big crowds, seeing fall colours 

Fall is quieter and calmer after the summer storm of tourists have gone home. It’s also prime time for hikers (the summer can be scorchingly hot and make hiking more challenging with the risk of sunburn and heatstroke). The drop in temperature takes the edge off and makes it easier to do some of the more strenuous trails. Fall colours are gorgeous in Zion when the aspens and cottonwoods turn yellow and burnt orange. 

Winter 

Best for: winter sports, wildlife watching, peace and quiet 

Winter is the quietest season. Some hiking trails are closed due to snowfall, but there’s still loads to do. Snow usually arrives in late November/early December and blankets parts of the canyon at higher elevations. Snowfall at lower elevations melts after a few hours – just keep an eye out for ice on hiking trails. If you’re hiking the Narrows you’ll definitely need a dry suit to hike safely... brrr! Zion isn’t as cold as other US national parks during winter and with a good winter coat and plenty of warm layers to keep you warm, it’s a beautiful time to explore in solitude.

Zion flash floods

Zion National Park is an incredible place, but it has its hazards. The biggest threats are steep cliff drop-offs, extreme heat and flash flooding. Flash floods occur in monsoon season (July to September) where storms lash several inches of rain in a couple of hours and runoff channels spill into the canyon – sometimes reaching speeds of more than 20 feet per second. 

What to do if you encounter flash flooding 

If you find yourself in the path of a flash flood, you should:

  • Exit the canyon as quickly as possible when it begins to rain – you cannot outrun a flash flood

  • Get to higher ground by climbing up rocks as quickly as possible 

  • Abandon your hiking gear and possessions if you need to act fast 

  • If you can’t get to higher ground, get behind a large rock that will shelter you from the oncoming water 

  • Climb into a crack or crevice in a rock wall if the above options aren’t available to you 

This all sounds a bit scary – and it is – but with good awareness, vigilance and planning you can stay safe and have an awesome trip. The key is to understand the risks, check the daily weather forecasts and be prepared. You could also do hikes like The Narrows as part of a guided tour or with an expert who knows and understands slot canyons. 

 

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