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winter hiking in zion

Zion Winter Hiking

Exploring in and around the canyons of the Zion National Park region is an amazing experience any time of year but there’s nothing quite like the solitude of a winter hike. Although snow in the main canyon is rare, when it happens it creates scenic magic against the red rock formations of Zion in Winter. Winter is an especially ideal time for a Zion guided hike as less people and cooler temperatures make pleasant hiking conditions. Wildlife is abundant and it’s not uncommon to see mule deer, wild turkeys, and other wildlife.

Since Zion visitors aren’t required to take the park shuttle during much of winter, it’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy a scenic drive through Zion Canyon to your trailhead destination. The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive follows the curve of the Virgin River for stunning views of the famous canyon and rock formations of Zion National Park. Most of the lower canyon trails are great for winter hiking in Zion. Snow is more common on plateau hikes, so be sure to check trail conditions before heading out. Then gear up accordingly and hit the trails for a spectacular Utah winter adventure.

Observation Point

You could hike to Observation Point up from the bottom of Zion Canyon or you can skip the steep incline and hike across the upper plateau from Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort. Either way, you end up with the same spectacular view of Zion Canyon, above Angels Landing and Scout Lookout, making this one of the best Zion hikes in winter. This is an all-time favorite hike for visitors looking to avoid crowds, especially in winter when the trail can close at the Weeping Rock trailhead. You’re up above 6,500 feet here, so dress accordingly.

Cable Mountain

Perhaps one of Zion’s best kept secrets, the Cable Mountain hike leads to spectacular views into Zion Canyon. The hike is 15 miles round trip from the Weeping Rock Trailhead or 18 miles round trip from East Rim Trailhead. But wait – there’s a much less strenuous way to hike Cable Mountain and still experience the great view. From Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort you can also access this trail and avoid most of the elevation gain. Beginning on our property, you can enter Zion National Park from the East and enjoy this fairly moderate hike, just under 8 miles round trip. In winter, guests can snowshoe to Cable Mountain right from the door of their Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort vacation home.

winter hiking scene in zion national park

Chinle Trail

This hike falls under the “epic” category. This low desert trail features lofty mountain views of West Temple, Towers of the Virgin, Sundial, Cougar Mountain and Smith Mesa. During summer this trail is fully exposed and not recommended, so winter is a good time of year to tackle the trail. Just be sure to head out early to take advantage of full daylight to hike this lengthy 15.4-mile trail. You’re going to want to add this to your Zion National Park winter bucket list!

Riverside Walk

The ease and beauty of this two-mile paved hike with great views of the Virgin River makes it one of the most popular in Zion National Park, Utah. Also known as the gateway to The Narrows, Riverside Walk begins at the farthest end of Zion Canyon Scenic Drive at the Temple of Sinawava. Like all trails, Riverside Walk may close at times in the winter due to icy conditions, but is generally hike-able year round.

Emerald Pools

This is typically one of the most popular hikes in Zion National Park, and Lower Emerald Pools is accessible almost year round. Be aware of icy conditions, and avoid Middle and Upper Pools during winter. (Note: Be sure to check for trail conditions at the Zion National Park visitor center). When it comes to Zion hikes in winter, this is definitely something that we recommend.

Click here to book an East Zion Adventures guided hike.