Winter In Southern Utah: Weather, Camping, And More

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Winter in southern Utah is amazing. It’s my favorite time there, though I do also love fall in Utah. But this is about winter.

This post isn’t really things to do in Utah in winter, though I do briefly touch on that at the end, but it’s more of the logistics and “need to know” when it comes to visiting Utah in winter. Southern Utah specifically.

I’ve done posts about visit Arches, Canyonlands, and Zion in winter but never really just a general southern Utah in winter thing. So I figured it was about time.

If you’re planning to visit Utah national parks in winter, this post could be helpful. I’ve included information about other areas as well though because there is a lot not to miss, even in winter.

While I’ve given a lot of information here, a lot of things will just depend on the specific town or park and weather conditions can vary quite a bit by year so keep that in mind.

I would love to hear your southern Utah winter travel experiences if you’ve had any! How was it? Where did you go? What month/year?

studhorse point utah

Travel Services I Recommend:
AllTrails – This is my favorite hike tracking app.
America the Beautiful – The national park pass is essential. – This is great for finding and booking hotels.
Get Your Guide – I recommend Get Your Guide for booking tours.
National Park Obsessed – This is the best national park planner.
Skyscanner – Skyscanner is great for finding and booking flights.
Enterprise – This is my rental car recommendation.
See all my resources here.

Is southern Utah worth visiting in winter?

Trying to decide if you should visit Utah in winter? My answer is absolutely! It’s my favorite time to go and if you have the flexibility to go then, definitely do it.

Watchman trail zion national park Utah
I love visiting Utah in winter!

Is southern Utah busy in winter?

Sometimes! I would say generally no, especially compared to summer. Weekdays will be slowest with weekends being a bit busier.

Holidays are the busiest time in Utah in winter. If that matters to you, avoid the Christmas/New Years week, Easter (especially in Moab, it’s Jeep Week), and spring break.

Sand Bench trail zion national park Utah
Utah in winter is so beautiful, especially when the desert gets snow!

Southern Utah winter weather

It’s hard to find a general southern Utah winter weather report so I’m doing it by area: Moab, Blanding, Boulder, Escalante, Torrey, and St. George so there is something for east, central, and west as well as varying elevations.

And, of course, this is just for those towns. Outside of those and in the parks weather could be very different. Mountains will be cold and probably have snow.

I think for the most part though, you can expect 30s-50s during the day and single digits to 20s at night. I do know that Torrey can be pretty windy which doesn’t help.

The numbers below are based on Accuweather for each town in December 2022 and January/February 2023.

Southern Utah winter weather TLDR: it will most likely be in the 30s or 40s during the day but can go into the 20s or 50s. Nights can be anywhere from below zero to 40s depending on the area.

Fiery furnace hike arches national park utah
Visiting Moab in winter is one of my favorite things to do

Southern Utah in December

Moab weather in December: Weather in Moab in December is so nice. We spent a week there in December 2021 and loved it. It typically has highs in the high 40s, low 50s and gets down to the 20s at night in the first twoish weeks.

Blanding in December: Blanding seems to pretty consistently be in the 40s during the day (occasionally in the 30s toward the end of the month) and anywhere from the teens to 30s at night.

Boulder in December: Boulder is similar to Torrey in highs, primarily the 30s with a few days in boith the 20s and 40s. I would expect lows to be single digits and below zero for the most part. Some nights are a little warmer though.

Escalante in December: Escalante in December istypically in the 30s with a few days in the 40s and nights hit tenns, single digits, and below zero.

The last two weeks have highs in the 30s and get town into the teens at night. It can get pretty chilly and does snow. Canyonlands may be cooler than Moab since it’s at higher elevation.

Torrey weather in December: Torrey is quite a bit colder. There may be some 40s in early December but expect 30s and 20s throughout the month for highs.

Lows are regularly in the single digits and actually below zero quite a bit. I probably wouldn’t camp in Capitol Reef in winter unless you’re used to camping in such low temperatures.

St. George weather in December: St. George is the warmest and is mostly in the 50s in December, occasionally dipping into the 40s for highs.

Lows seem to be in the 20s for the most part with an occasional night in the 30s or teens. As long as you’re prepared, camping in Zion now would be really nice.

Watchman trail zion national park Utah
I also love visiting Zion in winter to avoid crowds

Southern Utah in January

Moab weather in January: January weather is pretty similar to December, but without the 50s. I would expect 30s and 40s with lows in the 20s and tees throughout the month.

Blanding in January: Blanding is typically in the 30s during the day with a few days reaching the 40s and in the teens and 20s at night.

Boulder in January: January in Boulder is mostly 40s, a few 30s with primarily single digits and some below zero at night.

Escalante in January: January is chillier, mostly being in the 20s and 30s during the day and single digit or below zero at night. I expected Boulder to be colder!

Torrey weather in January: I would expect temperatures to be in the 20s during the day and single digits at night, but prepare for occasional colder days.

St. George weather in January: We spent a week in Zion in January and it was perfect. There was some snow but for the most part temperatures were really nice. Expect 40s and 50s for highs with lows in the 30s and 40s.

White rim overlook trail Canyonlands Utah
Some trails can be icy in Utah in winter

Southern Utah in February

Moab weather in February: 30s and 40s seem to be normal for highs in Moab in February but later in the month can see 50s. Lows are typically in the 20s

Blanding in February: February is similar with most days in the 30s and 40s with nights in the teens and 20s. Some nights dipped into the single digits.

Boulder in February: February is a bit colder during the day, mostly in the 20s and 30s with single digits and below zero at night again.

Escalante in February: February seems to have a little 20s, a little 30s, and a little 40s for highs and lows are mostly teen, single digit, and below zero.

Torrey Weather in February: Like January, expect 20s during the day, occasionally more occasionally less, and single digits and below zero at night. Like, 10+ below zero sometimes.

St. George weather in February: Weather seems consistent here in the winter with more 40s and 40s with an occasional day in the 60s later in the month. Lows are in the 20s and 30s.

View from studhorse point utah

Hiking southern Utah in winter

I love hiking in southern Utah in the winter for two main reason: fewer people and perfect temperatures. There aren’t specific hikes that are better to do in winter in Utah, really.

I would just say all of them or the previously mentioned reasons. For the most part, there isn’t much snow in southern Utah so things will likely look the same as they would in summer.

Cottonwood trees will have lost their leaves so that’s really the biggest visual difference. The only other thing would be dirt road accessibility but that depends on weather and where you are.

Some trails can be icy though, even if there isn’t snow on the ground. If the trail is shady the ice can linger longer than the snow. And some can be pretty muddy if it’s snowed and melted recently.

Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah
The east side of Zion had a good amount of snow in January 2022

Are roads bad in southern Utah in winter?

This depends very much on the area. Mountains will be snowy. Regular paved roads will only be bad during or right after snow, for the most part.

Higher elevation roads can close in the winter, for the whole season, but that will also depend. Dirt roads are mostly find but can be impassable during or after recent snow or rain.

Unfortunately there isn’t a good answer for this one. If there is a specific road you want to take or scenic drive you want to do, try calling the local visitor center, BLM office, or hotel to see if they know current conditions.

Skylight arch trail Utah

Winter in Utah national parks

Winter is my favorite time to visit the national parks in Utah because it’s so much more comfortable for hiking and so much less busy that in the summer.

The amount of snow they get varies by park and even specific area of each park because of elevation. Services are usually more limited in the parks in winter.

The gateway towns are also more limited in the winter with a lot of shops and restaurants closed or having much more limited hours. You can still usually find something open though.

Trails should all still be open but some will be snowy and/or icy. Visitor centers are all open but may have more limited hours.

Ranger programs are usually either not running or much more limited since the parks aren’t as busy but that will vary by park.

Some roads in the parks close but that also depends on the park. All of the main scenic drives are open but if any will be closed at all, it’s most likely Bryce canyon due to it’s elevation and snow.

Whichever park you’re planning to head to, check their Facebook page or the specific park website for closures and any current warnings.

Murphy Point trail canyonlands utah
Some trails can be snowy and muddy in Utah in winter, too

Does it snow in the winter at the Utah national parks?

It can! Bryce Canyon regularly gets a lot of snow but the others get less. It does still snow at the others on occasion but it’s usually minimal and doesn’t last too long.

The Kolob Terrace Road area of Zion closes in the winter because of the snow and the east entrance gets more snow than the main canyon area, too.

Toadstool Trail kanab utah

National Park Goodies

studhorse point utah

Winter camping in southern Utah

While winter camping may sound cold and daunting, it’s not too bad camping in Utah in winter. It may still be cold (likely) but as long as you come prepared it will be a breeze.

There is some sort of camping available in each Utah national park in winter but if you can’t get a spot, or want something free, consider BLM camping near the parks instead of in them.

Alstrom Point Utah

Camping in Arches in winter

If you can camp in Arches National Park in winter, definitely do it! There is only one campground in Arches, the Devil’s Garden Campground, and they have 25 sites open in the winter.

They are first come, first serve so I would recommend getting there earlier in the day if you really want to be in the park. If you don’t get a spot there are a bunch of campgrounds along Highway 128 and you can try again the next day.

Emerald pools trail zion utah
The Emerald Pools trail in winter was pretty icy near the end

Camping in Bryce Canyon in winter

The Sunset Campground is closed in the winter but the North Campground is open all year. It is first come, first serve from October 8th to May 18th.

There are 100 sites here for both tent and RV but there are no electrical hookups. This campground is near the visitor center so it may not be quite as cold but the elevation here is still high enough that you want to be ready for chilly temps.

Average temperatures in Bryce Canyon in December, January, and February don’t tend to exceed the high 30s and get below 20 at night. Hammocks are not allowed in the park.

Murphy Point trail canyonlands utah
My favorite winter hiking shoes not meant for hiking

Camping in Canyonlands in winter

Willow Flat is the only campground open in the winter and it is also first come, first serve. There are only 12 sites here and there is no water at the campground so be sure to bring enough with you.

Average temperatures get up into the 40s during the day and down into the 20s at night so be prepared for that when you plan.

Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah

Camping in Capitol Reef in winter

The Fruita Campground is the only campground in the park and it’s open year-round. It’s 71 sites are first come, first serve from November 1 to February 28.

There is also camping in Cathedral Valley and on Notom-Bullfrog Road if you want to be out of the main Fruita area of the park.

Fiery furnace hike arches national park utah
Mountains in southern Utah are pretty snowy in the winter

Camping in Zion in winter

The Watchman Campground is near the visitor center and the only camping available in Zion in winter. Reservations are still required and can be made up to six months in advance.

It has 176 sites but it is reduced in the winter. Temperatures in Zion in December, January, and February tend to be in the 50s during the day and 40s at night.

parus trail zion utah

What to bring camping in Utah in winter

Kammok hammock – I have a Roo single that I love. It’s the color of mac and cheese and pretty light weight. I don’t think as light as Eno if that matters though. But it’s perfect for just regular camping.

RTIC cooler – We have one of those giant coffin sized Yetis, which is great, but this 20 can soft RTIC cooler is a lot more convenient for small trips with easy access to a fridge and ice.

REI Passage 2 Tent – Our tent isn’t available anymore but this one is similar.  We’ve used it quite a few times and it’s been great.  It’s good for two people, but can be a little cramped if you move around too much.

NEMO Viola sleeping bag – Mine isn’t available anymore but this one is similar.  It’s very good in cold weather, not freezing, but in the 40s with leggings on, I was totally fine.  It has zipper vent things on the top that are supposed to help it cool down when it’s hot.  I don’t know if it really did that.  When we camped in south Florida, I was still pretty warm with them open and it was probably in the 60s. 

LuminAID lantern – I love this lantern.  It’s great for getting around your campsite in the dark, lighting up campground bathrooms at night, and even during power outages at home.  You can plug it in to charge it or just let the sun do the work. 

REI Ruckpack 18 – This is the daypack I have and it’s awesome.  It’s lightweight, has water bottle pockets that my 40-ounce Hydro Flask fits in, and it comes in nice colors. 

REI Camp Wrap – This is totally unnecessary, but I love it.  It’s basically a blanket poncho and it doubles as a good blanket for sleeping in warmer weather.  I used it two nights in south Florida and it was perfect for when my sleeping bag was too hot.

Puffy quilt – If you’re a really warm sleeper and visiting in the summer, a puffy quilt might be a better option.  I prefer this for hotter nights.  Check out the Rumpl camp quilts here.

Pillow – If you’re just driving, I’d just bring a regular pillow, but if you’re flying then renting a car, you might want a smaller pillow.  This is a good non-inflatible option.  Here is a good inflatable option.

Camp chairs – If you plan on doing a lot of camping outside of this trip, and backpacking especially, the REI Flexlite chairs are great choices.  Check out the camp chairs here.

Dramamine – this is a must if you get carsick.

Grafton ghost town utah
Trees are bare in Utah in winter, even in the south

What to pack for winter in southern Utah

Warm hat – You’ll obviously want to keep your ears warm in the winter. Check out the hat here.

Microspikes – These are very handy to have for hiking in the desert in winter. They aren’t always necessary but if trails are icy and steep, these make hiking much easier. Buy microspikes here.

Gloves – If you plan on being outside all day, you’ll probably want thicker gloves, but these are perfect for a few hours.  Buy my gloves here.

Hand and toe warmers – If you don’t want to get thicker gloves, bring some hand warmers.  If your feet get really cold really easily, definitely bring toe warmers.  They’re a game-changer.  Buy hand warmers here.

Warm socks – I love my Darn Tough socks. I only have one pair right now but I think next time I need hiking socks, I’ll get these again.

Warm bootsI love my Sorel boots.  They’re cute, comfy, and warm.  Plus, there is room under my toes for toe warmers.  Buy my boots here.

Patagonia Synchilla – I think of my Patagonia sweatshirts, the Synchilla is the warmest. I have two of these and really like them.

Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah
A partially frozen creek in Zion in winter

Great places to go in winter in southern Utah (other than the Mighty 5)

I’m keeping this section brief because I have a few other posts about things to do in Utah, scenic drives in Utah, and views in Utah. You can find more locations and details in those.

The other reasons I’m keeping it brief here is because this isn’t all about things to do in southern Utah in winter and I think everything is better to do in winter.

Summer in Utah is just SO hot that it makes hiking almost anywhere in southern Utah miserable. In winter it’s a lot more enjoyable.

This is just a few places that I particularly love too visit in winter in Utah but you can’t really go wrong. Some places will have more snow than others. Like, a lot more, and some will have little to no snow.

If you plan to do any hiking, consider getting AllTrails if you don’t already have it. With an AllTrails+ account ($35 per year, totally worth it) you can download maps for offline use which is incredibly helpful when you don’t have service out here. You can sign up here.

Zion petroglyph canyon trail Utah

Cedar Breaks

This is a great place to visit in southern Utah in winter if you want cold, snowy winter. Most of the park is closed in the winter due to snowfall making it perfect for snowshoeing or cross country skiing.

There are three areas to park for access into the park, including by snowmobile! There are other places nearby for that, too, as well as Brian Head if you want to ski or snowboard!

Highway 95

Highway 95 between Blanding and the turnoff to Lake Powell is so beautiful and has tons of opportunities to hike and enjoy the scenery.

Visit Natural Bridges National Monument, drive down to Halls Crossing, hike Leprechaun Canyon (weather permitting), or just drive the dirt roads and hike from there (also weather permitting).

Burr Trail

How could I not include Burr Trail? This is one of my favorite places in Utah and it’s not very busy in summer so it’s even less busy in winter!

Whether you’re doing the drive in one day or camping out there, it will be an unforgettable experience. There are some hikes along the way if you want to move around, which I would recommend.

There is the Halls Creek Overlook, Pedestal Alley, Headquarters Canyon, and Surprise Canyon all near each other (closer to Bullfrog than Boulder).


Grand Staircase Escalante is one of the best places to visit in Utah in winter because the cooler temperatures make the long hikes here so much better.

Almost all trails in Escalante are long (3+ miles) and that’s just not great to do in the summer heat. Unless you’re a human lizard or actual lizard.

You may not be able to drive Hell’s Backbone but there are plenty of other things to do in Escalante in winter, most of it hiking.

You can hike to 100 Hand pictograph, visit Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls, and if you’re really feeling ambitious (and comfortable navigating in the desert) hike to Golden Cathedral, Coyote Gulch, or the Cosmic Ashtray.

Skylight arch trail Utah

Utah posts you may also like:

Have you been to Utah in the winter? Where did you go? What month did you go? How was the weather?

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