The Best Winter Hikes In Zion National Park, Utah
Last night we arrived in Zion National Park. Barely. On the drive from our home in Newport Beach, Ca to Utah we got hit with a crazy hail/snow storm. As luck would have it, the car needed gas, and one of us had to get out and stand in the cold to pump it. To be fair, we decided to suffer together, and both huddle next to the gas cap. The wind felt like ice as it whipped the falling hail in our faces.
As we roamed the local Walmart to wait for the storm to pass, we couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of the town we were stuck in – Hurricane, Utah. As soon as the storm decided to pass, we continued the 19 miles to our hotel Pioneer Lodge on the west entrance in Zion National Park. It was quite the adventure! We filmed the whole experience for you to watch here.
When we awoke the next morning, this was our view from our window…can’t complain about that right?! It was GORGEOUS!!!
Just like our trip to Portland, Oregon a few years, we made sure to bring our camping stove with us. It is perfect for making yourself breakfast before the day begins such as oatmeal or scrambled eggs for protein. Since it runs off propane, the hotel room had to be well ventilated for us to use it. Although the weather 18 degrees outside, we opened the windows to create air flow in our room.
After breakfast, we dressed in a million layers to stay warm and ventured outside. Thank goodness for our hiking shoes, and hand warmers, because it was freezing. Our friends Sophie and Mazen who met us in Utah for their engagement session, picked us up to drive to our first hike.
The park shuttle isn’t required from November – March so you can enjoy the scenic drive through Zion Canyon in your own vehicle. The road was completely empty as we drove the 6.5-mile scenic drive. The road runs along the Virgin River and features stunning views of the canyon and famous Zion rock formations.
We stopped quite often to take photos of all the wildlife that were roaming about. This herd of Bison was so majestic just shuffling through the fresh powdery snow. They were only about 100 yards or so away from us, but we were able to get even closer with our macro lens (100mm f2.8L IS) without risking our safety.
The Watchman trail is a two-hour, 2.7-mile hike that departs from a trailhead at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center. We didn’t have time to walk the entire trail, so we took as many photos as possible along the way. The trail had moderate drop-offs and expansive views of lower Zion Canyon and Towers of the Virgin. We would definitely recommend this trail for beginner hikers who are interested in following the water.
Canyon Overlook Trail
The Canyon Overlook trail is an easy 1 mile roundtrip hike that has you climbing rocky stairs, crossing wooden planks and following the cliff’s edges. If you are afraid of heights, this may not be the best trail for you to attempt in the winter. However, if you are brave enough to try, there is a handrail along the most narrow parts of the trail. Our friends brought their dog Tashi along with them who ended up leading the way!
The trail gained about 500 feet in elevation in order to reach the breathtaking view of the Court of Patriarchs. The trail was very icy and slippery, but we managed. We even ran into a herd of long horned sheep. You can watch our Vlog to see a peak at our hikes through Zion Canyon.
We really wanted to hike Angel’s Landing, but unfortunately did not have the proper footwear to do so. In some sections of the trail, chains were required to steady yourself along the way. We definitely plan on visiting Zion National Park again when there is less snow so we can hike the rest of the trails.
Tomorrow, we are going to visit Bryce Canyon National Park which is about an hour away.