Pros and Cons of Visiting During Bryce and Zion’s Off-Season

Dec 10, 2018

Pros and Cons of Visiting During Bryce and Zion’s Off-Season

The “Disneyland Equation” applies to Utah’s most popular national parks:  Zion and Bryce. This means that, like Disneyland, the Zion and Bryce see larger crowds of visitors during school breaks and less when school is in session.  Fortunately, there are some advantages to vacationing during Zion’s off-season.  This article presents the pluses and minuses of visiting these other-worldly national parks in the cooler months of the school year.

Cost Difference

Because of colder weather and smaller crowds in Zion’s off-season, your hotel costs are considerably lower, especially for hotels in the charming town of Springdale, Utah, which sits adjacent to Zion Canyon.  Vacancies are much easier to find between November and February. Classy lodging, like Cable Mountain Lodge, Cliffrose Lodge and Gardens, and Watchman Villas are more accessible in Zion’s off-season than in summer.  Food in Springdale can be a little more expensive because restaurants know you have to eat.  Convenience cost affects Springdale, too.


During Zion’s off-season, the park shuttle does not run, so you have the independence of driving your car through Zion Canyon.  Drive right up to trailheads. And in case someone twists an ankle on a hike, your car is nearby to whisk the injured away to an ice treatment at your hotel.

Events and Hiking

Though there are fewer organized events in Zion’s off-season, there are more park rangers at your access.  Ask them questions, and take advantage of their knowledge and guidance.  They will explain that long hikes in the heat of summer require more water and electrolytes to restore fluids, and winter hikes require layers of protective clothing and more aggressive foot-ware for icy and snowy trails.  Hiking, cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing across Zion Ponderosa’s forested plateau to Observation Point will take you to one of the most stunning sights in America.


Because of smaller crowds during Zion’s off-season, wildlife is more visible.  You have a much better chance of seeing wild turkeys, deer, elk, and other animals during the cold months.  You can get stunning photos of animals against a backdrop of red rock, blue sky, and if you’re lucky, some snowcapped hills.  A scene of red Hoodoos (naturally-sculpted statues), capped with white snow at Bryce Canyon is fantastic and makes very nice photography.


Zion National Park ranges from 3,700 to 8,726 feet in elevation, while Bryce’s elevation begins at 6,620 feet and rises to 9,115 at the highest points.  Because Zion’s elevations are generally lower than Bryce’s, its climate is hotter in summer and milder in winter.  Zion sees little snow at its lower elevations but can accumulate snow and ice at the higher elevations, making hiking more treacherous.  In general, Bryce in winter requires more experienced hikers who know how to prepare for cold and tough trekking.

In both Zion and Bryce National Parks, weather conditions can restrict some activities in the off-season and during the busier season of summer.  For example, at Zion you’ll want to avoid the longest trails in midsummer, when the scorching sun is baking the park, and when afternoon thunderstorms can create flash flooding down narrow canyons like the “Narrows.”  Trekking the Narrows of Zion in July can be tragic in an afternoon rainstorm. Rain will turn a babbling brook into a raging torrent, taking drowning victims with it. So, with regard to extreme heat and flash floods, Zion’s off-season is much safer.

Pros and Cons of Visiting During Bryce and Zion’s Off-Season

Article By: Clear Content Marketing


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