Zion National Park never ceases to amaze us. There’s something about those daunting red rocks that makes us want to keep coming back for more. This winter, we booked a short trip and boy, was it a sight to see.
We wanted to see the snow on the red rocks, but unfortunately, it was too warm for snow. Instead, it was rainy, foggy, and cloudy. You may think that would ruin the experience — surprisingly it didn’t. Instead, it gave us an opportunity to see Zion National Park in a new light. Even through all that, winter in Zion National Park still manages to shine through majestically and leave us speechless. Below are some of the easy winter trails we were able to hike.
Easy Winter Trails In Zion National Park
Distance: 3 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 300 feet
Hiking Time: about 1-2 hours
Our Experience: This is a great hike that overlooks the Zion National Park valley and visitor center. Due to the rain, the trail was super muddy and mushy. Not a single soul was in sight. That allowed us to have the entire view to ourselves — something that we definitely couldn’t complain about.
Distance: 0.5 mile roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 100 feet
Hiking Time: about 10 minutes
Our Experience: This short, but steep trail leads to an intense waterfall. We were lucky to see how strong it was due to the rain — one of the perks of going in the winter. As you walk up the last steps, it also leads you to a cool carved eroded area (my favorite part!). Step under it and watch as the rock “weeps”.
Distance: 2 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 55 feet
Hiking Time: about 1.5 hours
Our Experience: Walk along the Virgin River and witness its strength and beauty through the canyon. Snap some photos and get up and personal with the mighty river. I love how you can see the way the river has carved through these red rocks (after millions of years!). This trail is also the entrance to the famous Narrows hike.
Distance: 0.5 mile roundtrip
Elevation Gain: less than 50 feet
Hiking Time: less than 30 minutes
Our Experience: This relatively flat and easy trail takes you along a meadow and the Zion Canyon Road. It leads to the Zion Lodge where you can stop by for some grub, drinks, or souvenirs. There’s also an outside patio where you can chill and enjoy the scenery around you.
*Note: Due to time constraints, we didn’t have a chance to hike the Emerald Pools (Lower, Middle, Upper) and Canyon Overlook Trail. So if you do have time, check them out!
Tips For Visiting Zion National Park In the Winter
- Prepare your hiking boots for the trail. Whether it’s rainy or snowy, make sure your boots are waterproof. If you’re going to hike in the Kolob Canyon area, you’ll definitely need crampons and snowshoes. We wanted to hike the Northgate Peak, but unfortunately, we didn’t have the right gear.
- Prepare your car for the icy road. Thankfully, we did not need snow chains, snow tires, or four-wheel drive when we entered the park or on Zion Canyon Road. We were also lucky that the shuttle was running so we didn’t have to drive throughout the park. All of the places we hiked were just off the shuttle stops. Check the visitor center or website to see if the shuttle system is working during your visit. If you’re heading up to the higher elevation areas, snow tires, snow chains, or four-wheel drive will be helpful.
- Wear warm layers. Don’t let bad clothes ruin your experience. Dress properly and make sure you layer up! Start with a base layer (thermal layer), a fleece mid-layer, then wrap up in a down or shell jacket. It also wouldn’t hurt to wear gloves, beanies, scarves, or earmuffs.
- Visit the Visitor Center. A stop by the visitor center can save you a ton of headaches about current road conditions and closures. It’s also a great place to ask about hikes, weather, activities, and ranger-led programs. Don’t worry, there won’t be tons of people around this time of year.
- Don’t let the weather get you down. Sometimes, schedules don’t go according to plan. Be flexible, keep a positive attitude, and weigh your options. It was a rainy weekend for us, but we still managed to squeeze in a couple hikes and enjoyed all of them regardless. It’s all about perspective!