Utah is one of those places that never disappoints. From the stunning red rock formations to the majestic mountains, there’s something for everyone here.
But when is the best time to visit Utah? That’s a question I get asked a lot, and it’s one that can be a bit tricky to answer. The truth is, the best time to visit Utah really depends on what you want to do and see.
As I used to live in Utah for a couple of years I can tell you everything about seasons and pros and cons of different times of the year.
When to Visit Utah for National Parks
Utah is home to top national parks in the country along with various incredible state parks.
If your main goal is to visit top Utah national parks and monuments, then I would say avoid summers as it’s simply ridiculously hot and incredibly crowded.
Spring and autumn are your best bets, but various parks are great in the winter, especially Bryce Canyon.
Late spring is the best time to visit Utah as opposed to early spring when roads are still likely to be snowed or too wet.
- Arches National Park: The best time to visit Arches National Park is in the spring or fall. The temperatures are mild, and the crowds are smaller than in the summer months. However, if you’re planning on visiting during the peak season, be prepared for long lines and crowded trails.
- Bryce Canyon National Park: The best time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park is in the winter or fall. The temperatures are mild, and the park is open for business. However, if you’re looking to beat the crowds, visit in the fall.
- Canyonlands National Park: The best time to visit Canyonlands National Park is in the spring or fall. The temperatures are fine and the crowds are smaller than in the summer months.
- Capitol Reef National Park: The best time to visit Capitol Reef National Park is in the spring or fall. The temperatures are mild, and the park is less crowded than the other national parks in Utah.
- Zion National Park: The best time to visit Zion National Park is in the late spring or early fall. The temperatures are mild, and the park is less crowded than in the summer months. However, if you’re looking to hike The Narrows, the best time to visit is in the summer when the water is warmer.
Summer in Utah
Summer is the peak season for visitors to Utah, and it’s not hard to see why. The weather is warm and sunny, and all the national parks and outdoor attractions are open and ready for business.
However, with peak season comes peak crowds, so be prepared for lines, traffic, and packed trails which get especially bad at hot springs so my local tip is to avoid that time.
The average temperature in Salt Lake City during the summer is in the mid-80s, but temperatures in the southern part of the state can reach well over 110 degrees.
The worst part of summers in Utah isn’t the temperatures, it’s the potential smog. The bad air can accumulate around the valley and stay for weeks which makes outdoor activities unhealthy. While you’ll still see local kids playing around for the past few years there were weeks where visibility was awful and air quality was worse than in Shanghai.
Winter in Utah
The snow-covered mountains and landscapes are breathtaking, and there’s nothing quite like snuggling up by a fire after a long day of winter adventures.
Park City will be covered in snow, but it makes for the most perfect skiing conditions. Plus, there’s also an option to visit Utah’s famous Ice Castles.
Salt Lake City is in the valley, which means that it might get snow but it often melts away quicker – but, just 10 minutes away there will be plenty of snow in the mountains at the ski resorts of Utah.
One of the most famous independent film festivals in the world – Sundance Film Festival takes place around Park City.
If you don’t ski and want to avoid freezing temperatures, you can hit the south and deserts.
The best time to visit Utah for desert activities is in the fall months of mid-September to early December. Campsites are functional, accommodation is much cheaper and hiking is great because the roads aren’t muddy yet.
Plan your Utah road trip by getting a rental car and exploring the most remote corners of Utah. The chance is, this time of the year you won’t meet a lot of other tourists.
When we went to Bryce in late November we only saw two other couples. It was basically like having Bryce Canyon to ourselves!
🚙 For the best road trip you will need a rental car. Discover Cars has plenty of options including 4WD options for the winters of Utah.
When to Visit Utah for Skiing and Snowboarding
That’s a tricky question because snow can vary. For the past few years, Utah was either getting next to no snow or a ton of snow.
But, realistically speaking the best time would be to opt for late January. There are over a dozen resorts in Utah, most around Salt Lake City and Park City.
You can easily stay in Salt Lake City and travel to ski resorts for about 10-20 minutes – either with your own rental car or a ski bus.
In conclusion, the best time to visit Utah really depends on what you want to do and see. If you’re looking for mild temperatures and fewer crowds, visit in the spring or fall.
If you’re looking for world-class skiing or winter activities, visit in the winter. And if you don’t mind the crowds and want to experience all that Utah has to offer, visit in the summer. Whatever season you choose, Utah is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories and a desire to come back for more.