When I was planning this roadtrip, I was a bit hesitant because the only time we could fit it into our travel plans was now (February … ie: the middle of winter!) I was especially worried because I was really, really looking forward to hiking and exploring Utah’s many stunning national parks, but I didn’t know if the cold and snow would hold me back from really enjoying the experience.
Luckily, it turns out there was no reason for me to worry. Yes, there were some hikes we couldn’t do because of the ice, but overall I think we’ve had a much better experience because of the winter weather.
I had a particularly good winter experience at Bryce Canyon, where it was truly a winter wonderland! We almost cut Bryce out of our itinerary after being told almost all the campgrounds were closed, but in the end I’m so very glad we went. Here are 5 reasons why you should consider visiting Bryce Canyon in the winter too!
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THE SNOW MAKES EVERYTHING MORE BEAUTIFUL
First things first; I think that having snow on the ground makes everything more beautiful! The entire park was snowy, giving it a magical fairyland feel. I particularly love how the white snow contrasts against the deep red rocks – don’t you agree?
WINTER ACTIVITIES – LIKE SNOWSHOEING!
Before visiting Bryce I had never tried snowshoeing, but our hotel had snowshoes for rent for only $10/day, so we decided to give it a go … and it was one of the highlights of our day!
Snowshoes allowed us to get even further away from the crowds; we did two different walks to popular lookouts and didn’t see another living soul on either walk. (The roads to these walks, Fairyland Point and Paria View, aren’t plowed in the winter so they aren’t easily accessible without snowshoes or skis.)
YOU (ALMOST) HAVE THE PARK TO YOURSELF
One of the big ‘conundrums’ about visiting the national parks is that they are usually crowded (understandably so!) But at the same time, the real appeal of visiting the parks is getting back to nature, away from people, and finding quiet time.
Which is why one of the best things about visiting Bryce Canyon in the winter is there are almost no other visitors! I can only imagine how popular the park must get in the summer but when we visited we (mostly) had the park to ourselves. Even at the possible viewing spots it was possible to wander off and enjoy the view in silence.
IT’S NOT REALLY THAT COLD (DURING THE DAY)
At night, it was absolutely freezing near Bryce, but during the day it was actually really mild! When we were there it got to the 60’s during the day. (See the above photo? I actually put my sweatshirt on for the pic; I was so hot that I was walking around in a tank top.)
Although the ranger hinted this weather was a bit warmer than normal, it does seem like it’s usually sunny and pleasant during the day. And regardless of the temperature, it’s possible to get sunburnt because of the sun reflecting off the snow (we did!) So don’t forget to pack your sunscreen.
Even though I loved visiting Bryce in the winter, it’s still not a popular option and this was reflected in our accommodation prices! We stayed at Ruby’s Inn and we got a great deal; the first night was full price (but still reasonable) and then following nights were 50% off.
Although a lot of the resort facilities were closed in the winter, the hot tub and heated indoor pool were still open (which we loved after a day in the snow) and they had a winter activities centre with skies, snowshoes and ice skating.
I highly recommend you check out the National Park Service’s page about planning your visit to Bryce Canyon in the winter. Looks like there is a free daily guided snowshoe walk (I had no idea when I was there!)
I really wish I had bought some spikes like these to strap to the bottom of my shoes. There were a few hikes that I couldn’t do because it was a bit too icy (and there were also a few times I braved the ice but nearly killed myself.) I’d definitely make the small investment and get a pair if I was planning another winter trip.
This is a fairly new guide, with all my favourite Utah parks. I wish I’d had a guide like this before planning my trip (I think if I did I would have planned more time in Utah!)
Have you been to Utah in the winter? Or what are your favourite winter destinations? Let me know in the comments! xphoto credits : All by me!