Best Time to Visit Utah (When to Go in 2023)
The most popular time to visit Utah is generally between September-December and April-June when the weather is the most agreeable. There are perks to visiting Utah in every season, depending on what Utah activities you want to do and where you want to go.
There are a ton of factors to take into consideration when deciding when to visit Utah. As a born and raised Southwestern gal, I’ve visited Utah more times than I can remember and have experienced the desert state in every season.
If your main goal is to visit top Utah national parks and monuments, then I would encourage you to travel in the non-summer months, and if you hope to hit the Utah ski slopes, a winter trip should be in order.
Follow along as I go more in-depth about the best time to visit Utah.
Table of Contents
- When is the Best Time to Visit Utah?
- Utah Travel Seasons
- Utah Weather and Climate
- 7 Tips for Visiting Utah
- FAQs About the Best Time to Visit Utah
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When is the Best Time to Visit Utah?
The best time to visit Utah is in the spring and fall, because that is when the state experiences its best weather and attractions are less crowded. The summer months are usually the peak tourist season for the national parks and the winter brings cold but enjoyable weather.
When to Visit Utah for Good Weather
The best time to visit Utah for good weather is between September-December and April-June. The fall and spring months bring the most enjoyable climate, avoiding extreme temperatures that the winter and summer desert months commonly bring.
I recommend visiting Utah in late fall when temperatures no longer exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit and when schools are back in session, leaving national parks less crowded.
Additionally, late spring is the best time to visit Utah as opposed to early spring when roads are still likely to be snowed over. Visiting Utah in late spring guarantees hotter temperatures during the day, generally drier weather, and crisp, jacket-needing nights.
Winter may not be the most ideal time to visit Utah due to extremely cold temperatures. However, if you can bear the chill then I highly recommend witnessing winter wonderland snow transform the sandstone mesas of the Utah desert landscape.
When to Visit Utah for Cheap Prices
If your priority is saving some serious cash while in Utah, visit the desert state during the non-summer months. Summer is peak tourist season and accommodation and food prices are often doubled, especially in national parks.
You can camp for free in any season in Utah if you know where to look. Most BLM land is free; you can even find some free sites with provided picnic tables and fire rings. Check out helpful apps like iOverlander and The Dyrt to find free sites in Utah and nearby camping in New Mexico sites.
Winter may be the cheapest time to visit Utah but tent camping can be unbearably cold at this time. Check out these Salt Lake City hostels or try the Lazy Lizard Hostel in Moab, one of my favorite cheap places to stay in the state (only $16!).
When to Visit Utah for Desert Activities
Each season brings its own perks in regard to desert activities and excursions. Summer is the driest time of the year but you may experience monsoons, crazy temperatures, and heavy crowds. Winter is one of the most enjoyable times to hike in Utah but many roads and trails may be closed due to snow and ice.
Overall, the best time to visit Utah for desert activities is in the fall months of September-early December. Rock climbing is dry and still accessible at this time, slot canyons receive far fewer monsoons, ATV roads aren’t yet muddy, and dry skies mean millions of night stars when backpacking.
Fall is also a great time to explore the Utah national parks because most kids are back in school and parents are back at work. If you want to explore awesome Utah hot springs, fall is an ideal time to do so, although I prefer hot spring soaking in the winter when I have the springs to myself.
👉 Pro Tip: This is my favorite towel that I bring to every hot spring I soak in.
When to Visit Utah for Families and Kids
The summer months of late May-early September are the best times to visit Utah for families and kids. To avoid scorching temps, I recommend visiting Utah in either late May, early June, or early September.
Most activities and roads are open at this time and traveling with kids in the summer is the best hassle-free option for parents traveling with young ones.
I recommend hiking in the Narrows at Zion National Park at this time, a trail that’s half submerged in water the whole time. This is one of the most refreshing Utah hikes in the summer.
The La Quinta at Zion/Springdale is one of the best places to stay with kids in the summer. The large pool area has small waterfalls and is backdropped by gorgeous desert buttes. It’s also conveniently located between Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park.
When to Visit Utah to Avoid Crowds
Visit Utah in the winter months to avoid crowds. This holds true for the five national parks, including Canyonlands National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Arches National Park, as well as popular national monuments like Bears Ears.
You’ll be able to find accommodation without a problem in Utah during the winter and have hiking trails in national parks all to yourself, an increasing rarity these days. Winter is also my favorite time to explore Utah hot springs because the otherwise packed soaking pools are as isolated and empty as the Utah backcountry.
A winter spent in the desert is magical, to say the least. The striking colors of ruby cliffs jutting out of the covering white snow layer is a sight that must be witnessed next time you’re in Utah.
Besides the below-freezing temperatures, the other main downfall of visiting Utah at this time is snow-caused closures like the Angels Landing hike and certain mountain roads.
When to Visit Utah for National Parks
The best time to visit Utah for its five national parks is during the non-summer peak months. National parks around the nation are more popular than they’ve ever been in recent years, bringing large summer crowds numbering in the tens of thousands.
National parks are best experienced as they were intended to be – remote, serene, and somewhat isolated. This way, visitors can truly appreciate the value of wild spaces.
To avoid large national park crowds, visit during the off-season months, especially in the winter when there are only a fraction of tourists. In my experience, I only encountered two other couples when I visited Capitol Reef in February, but I’ve passed as many as 100 people in Arches National Park and 300 people in Zion during the summer (yes, I counted).
🚗 Where to Rent a Car: If your goal is to hit all five of the Utah national parks, you will need a rental car. Discover Cars has plenty of options, even 4WD options for the winter, and services most of Utah.
When to Visit Utah for Skiing
It may seem like a no-brainer, but winter is the best time to visit Utah for skiing and snowboarding. There are around 20 ski resorts in Utah, 10 of which are within an hour of Salt Lake City.
Winter and early spring provide the best powder for hitting the slopes. Park City is the largest ski resort in Utah and Powder Mountain, Alta, and Deer Valley are among the most popular. Hit the slopes during the day then relax in a hot spring in the evening to soothe your sore leg muscles.
Be sure to also check out nearby top Colorado ski resorts to continue the snow-filled fun!
Utah Travel Seasons
Spring in Utah
- 💃 Living Traditions Festival – Celebrate Utah’s cultural diversity, traditional folk culture, and ethnic arts at the Living Traditions Festival. Artists and performers of all backgrounds are showcased at this Salt Lake City multicultural event.
- 🚙 National Park Road Trip – The best time to visit the Utah national parks, like Bryce Canyon in southern Utah, is in the springtime when crowds are few and the blooming flora is plenty. Hit all five of the Utah national parks in one epic road trip, exploring the desert state from south to north.
- ⛺ Camping – Spring is also one of the best times to camp in Utah. Late spring brings drier weather and a myriad of stars, and the nights are just cold enough to warrant a campfire. Try camping in the Utah national parks, one of the coolest places to camp in the state!
Summer in Utah
- 🎷 Moab Jazz Festival – A festival unlike any other that takes place in a natural red rock amphitheater just outside of downtown Moab. Hear classical instruments echo off the booming canyon walls or sign up for the floating concert down the Colorado River.
- 🏜️ Canyoneering – Summer is the best time to go canyoneering, when the slots are dry and provide a sweet shaded release from scorching outside temperatures. Be sure to check weather conditions beforehand to avoid a surprise monsoon.
- 🎭 Utah Shakespeare Festival – One of the most unique events in Utah, the Utah Shakespeare Festival pays homage to the late and great Shakespeare at the summer extravaganza. This Tony-award-winning event has been around since 1960 and has since become a Utah staple.
Fall in Utah
- 🍻 Oktoberfest – Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort celebrates Oktoberfest like nowhere else in Utah. The festival actually begins in August and lasts 8 weeks, inviting families and friends to partake in the various activities, food, and brews.
- 🐑 Soldier Hollow Classic – This unique sheepdog competition is a Utah classic. Watch local canines herd 350+ sheep by the command during Labor Day in Midway, Utah.
- 🤠 Heber Valley Music & Cowboy Poetry Festival – Have a rowdy time at this roundup! Learn about the cowboy way of life via song and poem at this cowboy festival held every fall like clockwork.
Winter in Utah
- 📽️ Sundance Film Festival – One of the most famous independent film festivals in the world, the Sundance Film Festival takes place across multiple locations throughout Utah and showcases a wide variety of promising, independent films.
- ⛷️ Ski Resorts Opening Day – Most of Utah’s ~20 ski resorts host their opening day either in the late fall or early winter months. Opening day prices are typically more affordable than regular ski passes, making this the ideal time to ski in Utah.
- ♨️ Hot Springs – Experience solitude at Utah’s hot springs during the winter months. There’s no better feeling than going from below-freezing temperatures into an almost-scorching hot plunge in the middle of the wilderness.
Utah Weather and Climate
As a desert state, Utah has a dry, semi-arid desert climate. Utah also has one of the lowest relative humidity percentages in the United States, giving it a dry desert reputation.
The summer months typically average day temperatures of 92 degrees Fahrenheit and an average night temperature of 66 degrees. Winters average a high of 45 degrees and lows well below freezing.
Southwest Utah experiences the warmest weather year-round in places like St. George and Kanab. The mountain cities in Utah experience some of the coldest winter temperatures like Cedar Park and Moab.
7 Tips for Visiting Utah
The weather in Utah can be unpredictable at times. Your best bet is to pack layers to be prepared for anything. You may also want to pack water sandals if visiting Utah national parks like Bryce Canyon in the summer.
Bring Sun Protection
As a desert state, Utah receives incredibly hot summers. Be sure to bring sun protection if adventuring outdoors at this time like a sunhat, zinc sunscreen, and a sun-protection shirt.
Always Have Enough Water
One of the main reasons hikers get rescued in Utah is because they didn’t bring enough water on the trail. Even the winter months can dehydrate you if you’re under direct sun. A good rule of thumb is to always carry at least a 1.5-liter water bottle on any duration hike.
Participate in at Least One Outdoor Adventure
You must participate in at least one outdoor adventure when you visit Utah national parks for the best desert experience. This includes hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, mountain biking, river rafting, off-roading, and canyoneering.
Visit at Least One of Utah’s National Parks
Utah’s five national parks are the main attraction in the state. Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Zion, and Capitol Reef are must-sees next time you visit the Southwestern state.
Give Camping a Chance
Experience the Utah desert in a new way by camping among sagebrush and coyote scat. I recommend camping for at least one night in Utah for an intimate experience with nature.
If you’re not terribly pressed for time on your Utah road trip, I recommend traveling slowly to really take in all the beautiful sights Utah has to offer. Instead of trying to squeeze in every national park in one week, maybe explore two parks in-depth instead.
FAQs About the Best Time to Visit Utah
What is the best time to visit Utah National Parks?
What is the best month to visit Salt Lake City?
September-October is the best time to visit Salt Lake City when the weather is the most agreeable. There are a plethora of ski resorts surrounding SLC, so visit in the winter if skiing is your main priority.
What are the warmest months in Utah?
Late June through early September are the warmest months in Utah. Day temperatures above 100 degrees are normal at this time, so plan accordingly.
What are the snowy months in Utah?
Late November through late March is the snow season in Utah, especially around the mountain areas. Research road conditions beforehand and be on alert for detours and road closures.
Thanks for reading my guide on the best time to visit Utah! There’s desert magic in every Utah season, so I’m sure you’ll have a grand time no matter when you visit.
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