Winter in Utah's Red Rock Country


People don't become captivated by southern Utah, they become obsessed by it. It's got an attraction that's difficult to pin down, let alone describe.

People tend to think of southern Utah as a land of canyons, and it certainly is. But most of the country is taken up by the high plateaus and mesas into which the canyons are carved.

Much of this variety is set aside in Utah's five National Parks— Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion. Each is different, but they share one thing in common: The best time to visit them might be the dead of winter.

Visitation to Utah's five National Parks drops dramatically in the winter. Only Bryce Canyon actually caters to winter visitors because its higher elevation draws cross-country skiers and snowmobilers, but there's plenty to do at all of the parks.

You must remember this: The days are short and cool and the nights are cold. While much of southern Utah is desert, it's a high elevation desert. Except in the extreme southwest corner of the state, overnight temperatures regularly drop into the low 20s or high teens, and single digit lows are not uncommon. If you intend to hike or make camp in the desert during January and February, be sure to bring proper cold weather gear.

"The biggest factor to be aware of is the weather," says Paul Henderson, chief of interpretation at Canyonlands National Park."You may have blue sky and sunshine, and the sun can be deceptively warm against your skin, but the wind chill factor can change things in a hurry."

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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