The Best Time to Visit Zion National Park

The best time to visit Zion National Park is in the fall, between October and November.

As with many of the country’s national parks, fall is the best time to go to Zion. During this period, the temperatures hover in the mid-70s during the day and 40s at night. This moderate weather is ideal for campers and hikers alike.

On the contrary, summers in Zion are hot with temperatures in July sometimes reaching 100ºF, making certain outdoor activities difficult and potentially hazardous. 

While winter temperatures remain warm enough to enjoy the park, some higher elevation attractions such as Angels Landing and Observation Point may not be accessible due to weather.

Average temperature and precipitation from 2011 to 2020

Best time for camping

The best time for camping in Zion National Park is in October.

As with many of the country’s national parks, campgrounds fill up quickly in the summertime, limiting availability for those who don’t reserve well in advance. Alternatively, you can consider dispersed camping as the campsites are free.

By October, crowds in Zion have thinned considerably, making campgrounds more accessible. Temperatures from June through September routinely reach well into the 90s, making outdoor sleeping uncomfortable. October offers a more comfortable month for camping with daily highs dropping into the 70s and nighttime lows hovering around 50 degrees.

Read More : Guide to camping in Zion National Park

Best time for hiking

The best time for hiking in Zion National Park is September and October.

With daytime highs in the summer reaching well into the 90s and many of the park’s best hikes receiving a high degree of sun exposure, the fall months afford a better opportunity for hiking. Hiking at this time is more comfortable and requires you to carry in less water for hydration.

And, with fewer visitors to the park, you can avoid the crowds that mass at Zion’s most popular trails. You can also safely visit the park’s slot canyons, which are susceptible to dangerous flash floods in the spring months.

Read More : Hiking trails in Zion National Park

Best time to avoid crowds

The best time to avoid the crowds at Zion National Park is from late fall through early spring. Historically, January is the least crowded month with only 2% of the annual visitors going to Zion.

The busiest months are from April to September with these 6 months amounting to 70% of the yearly visitors.

While crowds begin to thin after Labor Day, but if you really want an intimate experience at the park you need to wait until later in the fall.

While the weather may be cooler, with highers dipping into the 50s, the crowds are much much smaller, allowing you to enjoy the park’s more popular attractions without having to search for a parking space or share the trail with dozens of other hikers. If you crave solitude, this is the time to go.

Best time for canyoneering and rock climbing

The best time for canyoneering and rock climbing at Zion National Park is from September through early November.

The heat of the summer makes rock climbing difficult with temperatures reaching triple digits. Summer also features heavy rainstorms, which can weaken the sandstone canyons, potentially causing holds to break.

Canyoneering is also more enjoyable during the early fall when the weather is still warm. Early spring and late summer are hazardous times for exploring the park’s canyons as spring rain coupled with snowmelt can cause flash flooding, making the park’s slot canyons a potential hazard.

Remember to check the NPS website for the latest updates of closures.

Best time to drive along Zion Canyon Scenic Drive

The best time to drive along Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is December through March. This period is also the least crowded month at Zion.

Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to private vehicles from March through November. During this time you must take a Zion Canyon shuttled through the scenic drive. Getting tickets to the shuttle can be difficult if you don’t reserve them ahead of time.

While the shuttles do give you the opportunity to see and experience the drive during peak seasons, you can have a more solitary experience on your own vehicle by visiting the park in its off-season. Just keep your eyes open as rockfalls are common on the drive.

Best time for horse riding

The best time for horse riding in Zion Canyon National Park is November through March.

The park’s horseback riding trails occur at the park’s lower elevations where temperatures can reach triple digits in the summertime and even well into the 80s in the spring and fall, making the horseback riding uncomfortable for both man and beast.

During the winter, temperatures are mild, with daytime highs reaching into the 50s and 60s. This is optimal weather for horseback riding. You’re also more likely to spot wildlife from horseback during the winter. Numerous ranches offer horseback riding experiences into the park year-round.

Summer in Zion

  • Average Highs : 98 to 101ºF / 37 to 38ºC
  • Average Lows : 64 to 71ºF / 18 to 21ºC

Summer is the most popular time of year to visit Zion, with the park seeing the bulk of its annual visitors. This is when the park’s shuttle system is running, making touring the park more convenient.

Summers at the park are also brutally hot with daytime temperatures reaching well into the 90s and routinely hitting triple digits. For this reason, hiking can be a challenge during the summer.

Summer does afford a good opportunity to take advantage of the park’s higher elevation hikes, which do see cooler temperatures. Lower elevations hikes along the Virgin River do offer opportunities for wading, allowing visitors to cool off from the summer heat.

Read More : What Should I Pack for Summer Camping?

Fall in Zion

  • Average Highs : 65 to 92ºF / 18 to 33ºC
  • Average Lows : 37 to 62ºF / 3 to 17ºC

By October, daytime highs at Zion fall into the 70s with nighttime lows rarely dropping below 50. This makes the fall a perfect time for such activities as camping and hiking. Crowds have also thinned considerably by the fall, making it easier to access the park’s most popular attractions. It’s also much easier to find vacancies at one of the park’s campgrounds.

Fall is also a dry season for the park, dropping water levels, making exploring the parks many canyons safer. The park’s fall colors are also on full display at this time, making for spectacular views.

Winter in Zion

  • Average Highs : 53 to 58ºF / 12 to 15ºC
  • Average Lows : 30 to 33ºF / -1 to 1ºC

The biggest benefit of visiting the park in wintertime is the lack of people. The crowds that fill the park during the summer disappear by winter. Midwinter weather is cold and wet with daytime highs reaching into the low 50s and nighttime lows dropping below freezing. The park’s roads are also open to personal vehicles, allowing you to explore the park from the comfort of your own vehicle.

Winter also transforms the park’s scenery with high peaks receiving blankets of snow. You do need to prepare ahead of time if visiting the park during the winter as trails can close due to weather. Some of the park’s most popular trails, including Observation Point and Angel’s Landing can become icy, making them extremely dangerous.

Read More : What Should I Pack for Winter Camping?

Spring in Zion

  • Average Highs : 68 to 82ºF / 20 to 28ºC
  • Average Lows : 39 to 51ºF / 4 to 11ºC

With the arrival of spring, temperatures begin to warm, with daytime temperatures reaching into the 60s and 70s. Nighttime lows are still cold, falling as much as 30 degrees or more. Depending on how early in the spring, higher elevation hikes may still be treacherous due to lingering snow and ice.

As snows melt and rainy weather arrives, the slot canyons become hazardous with the threat of flash flooding. Expect the Narrows to be closed for at least part of the spring season.

Spring is a great time to experience Zion’s lower elevation hikes as the park’s colorful wildflowers bloom, creating a beautiful contrast with the red, orange and cream colored rock.

Amanda Williams

Amanda Williams is a writer, plant-nerd, and outdoor enthusiast. She has traveled extensively, around the U.S., throughout Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Everywhere she treks, she takes time to enjoy the outdoors. John Muir is her hero. She aspires to inspire people to live better as he did.