December Highlights for Springdale & Zion National Park
While many people still think that because we are located in Utah the winter months in Springdale and Zion Canyon are filled with bitter cold weather and snow. Here is the real perspective, if you do get to experience snow here it’s a real treat as the already awe-inspiring cliffs of Zion National Park take on a whole new dimension when they’re snow capped, but as soon as the clouds break and the sun comes shining through the snow is typically gone within a day or two.
Truth be told, winter here is beautiful, serene, and quite peaceful. Average temperatures December through February in Springdale and Zion Canyon are typically in the mid to upper 50’s during the day (Mid 60s are common) and in the upper 20’s to low 30’s overnight. While that is not optimal weather to sit poolside it is absolutely great for hiking, especially some of the desert lowland trails but also some trails that you would not think of as a winter hike like the Narrows.
The Zion Shuttle system closes for the winter months as the number of visitors drops dramatically, but don’t despair as the park is always open and Springdale is a year round destination. With all of that said we’re going to highlight some the great December (a few begin at the end of November) events and activities.
Holiday Events – Springdale’s 7th Annual Zion Joy to the World
This month long celebration actually begins at the end of November right after Thanksgiving and culminates with a world-class fireworks display on New Year’s Eve at the Springdale Town Park.
For complete details check out www.zionjoy.com
Top Winter Hikes in Zion National Park
THE CHINLE TRAIL (Petrified Forest Trail)
The Chinle Trail (also referred to as the “Petrified Forest Trail” before the 1980s) is a fairly level and easy to follow trail, but it does go up and down several hundred feet in elevation as it crosses the various washes.
For the complete details on the Chinle Trail click here for Joe’s Guide to Zion National Park by Joe Braun Photography.
THE SAND BENCH TRAIL (Sand Bench Loop)
The Sand Bench Loop starts at the Court of the Patriarchs and is roughly 3.5 miles (round trip). From the shuttle stop/winter parking area, cross the main road and walk the access road to a large water tank and the hikers’ bridge across the Virgin River. The trail initially heads west to offer a good view of the Court of the Patriarchs, then it heads south and crosses a small stream, then climbs to the top of the landslide. We recommend this as a winter hike as it is used as horseback trail in the summer and a significant portion requires hiking through sand which is much more enjoyable when it is not hot.
For the complete details on the Sand Bench Trail click here for Joe’s Guide to Zion National Park by Joe Braun Photography.
Named after the Paiute word for “bubbling water,” the Pa’rus Trail is one of the newer and most accessible trails in Zion National Park. It is the only trail in Zion that is open to bicycles and pets, and it is also one of the few wheelchair-accessible trails in the park.
For the complete details on the Pa’Rus click here for Joe’s Guide to Zion National Park by Joe Braun Photography.
ZION NARROWS DAY HIKE (“Bottom Up” from the Temple of Sinawava)
For visitors or casual hikers who want to see the best of the Zion Narrows, this is the route to do. Starting at the Temple of Sinawava (the last stop on the free Zion Canyon shuttle), you can hike up the Riverside Walk trail and then continue hiking right up the river to see some of the best “narrows” sections of the North Fork of the Virgin River. We know you think we are crazy for recommending a hike in the river but with a dry suit rental from one of the great local outfitters you will not only stay dry but also comfortably warm. An additional huge bonus is that you will likely only see a few other hikers this time of year!
For the complete details on the Zion Narrows Day Hike click here for Joe’s Guide to Zion National Park by Joe Braun Photography.
Top Winter Dining Choices – Some of our favorites stay open all year
Zion Canyon Brew Pub– Open daily for lunch and dinner
Café Soleil– Open daily for breakfast and lunch
9 East– Open daily for dinner
Wildcat Willie’s– Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Oscar’s Café– Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Jack’s Sports Grill– Open daily for lunch and dinner
Zion Fireworks Photo by Jason Butler – Click Here for more of Jason’s work