Southern Utah Winter Weekend Getaway
Living in Box Elder County has many benefits but one of the best perks is access to limitless adventures within a half-day drive. If you haven’t discovered our states five national parks, it’s time to get out and explore! Zion National Park, Bryce National Park, and the greater surrounding area is filled with adventure and unique photo opportunities that make a perfect Southern Utah Winter Weekend Getaway.
Zion National Park attracts 4.3 million visitors a year. The winter season in Zion is peaceful and quiet. Winter in Zion is perfect for sightseeing, especially because you are allowed to drive through the park in your own car. Most trails are open in the winter but can be a bit icy at times.
You can expect 5.5 hours of travel time as you journey south. Before you leave town make sure to stop by Brigham City Outdoors to grab any last-minute gear you might need. While your there you might as well spoil yourself a little and stop next door at Buzzbru and grab a drink and treat for the road!
Where to stay in Southern Utah
Staying near Zion National Park and Bryce National Park in the winter is not only possible with last-minute reservations, but it will also save you a bundle compared to visiting during the peak summer season.
The East Zion Resort is a village of tiny houses, treehouses, yurts, and glamping tents. Located in the small town of Orderville, Utah just 25 miles from the East entrance of Zion National Park. It’s a simple, yet luxurious destination with red rock views.
Why stay at East Zion Resort
During our stay at the resort, we had an opportunity to get to know one of the owners, Aaron Bonham. Both Aaron and his wife are native to the area and have built a beautiful resort boosting their local economy.
“This is the future of travel. People want something unique. Something they can take a selfie with.” – Aaron Bonham
There are accommodations at the park’s entrances if you prefer to stay at a lodge or one of the campgrounds. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly and unique upscale experience, East Zion Resort is the place to stay! The short drive to the parks is well worth it, not to mention beautiful. We booked a Yurt for $70 a night in February.
The location is centrally located in the heart of Southern Utah’s recreation. East Zion Resort is 20 miles from Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, 25 miles from Zion National Park, 56 miles from Bryce National Park, 100 miles from Lake Powell, and 230 miles from the Grand Canyon.
Best Local Restaurants near Zion National Park
Sammie’s Chuck Wagon is located in the heart of downtown Orderville just down the street from East Zion Resort. Start your day with an espresso and end your day with a slice of pizza and a milkshake. Charles Zitting owns the establishment and won our kids over with rainbow-colored lollipops.
Porter’s Smokehouse & Grill is located in Springdale and is known for its country-style food and hearty portions. It’s a local favorite and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Its rustic charm makes a perfect stop for any meal. In the evening the Wildcat Saloon is a great place to grab a drink and socialize after a day on the trail.
Things to Do in the Winter Near Zion National Park
Zion Canyon Scenic Drive
The Zion Canyon Scenic Byway is 54 miles long. It takes roughly 1.5 hours to travel. You can only drive your own car on the scenic drive a few months of the year. You can always drive the Mount Carmel Highway. The Virgin River runs through the canyon with tan and red sandstone cliffs that rise 2,600 feet high. The 12-mile highway connecting the south and east entrances of Zion National Park is a must-do!
Hiking in Zion
Most of the hiking trails remain open during the winter season but can be a bit icy. Stop by the park’s visitor center for the most current trail information. Here are the five most popular hikes in Zion National Park.
The Weeping Rock is a short, but steep trail; good for families.
- Roundtrip: 0.5 hours 0.4mi
- Elevation Change: 98 ft
You can choose to visit one, two, or all three of the Emerald Pools. The shortest option is to the Lower Pool (first pool) and back” about 1 hour. Visiting all three pools takes about 2 hours in total.
- Roundtrip: 1-2.5 hours
- 1.2mi – 3.1 mi
- Elevation Change 69-398 ft
The first two miles of this steep, uphill hike leads to great views at Scout Lookout. Many visitors stop here. The next 3/4 mile follows a narrow ridge with deadly drop-offs of 1,000 feet on either side. There are chains to hold on to in some sections, but not all. This section is not recommended for young children, those with a fear of heights, or individuals with balance issues or other health concerns.
- Roundtrip: 4 hours
- 5.4 mi
- Elevation Change: 1488 ft
Virgin River Narrows
This hike is not to be underestimated. Your safety is your responsibility and depends on proper judgment, preparation, and equipment.
- Roundtrip: 1-8 hours walking in the river
- Elevation Change: up to 334 ft
This is a great trail for all ages and ability levels. Beginning at the final shuttle stop at the end of Zion canyon you can leisurely stroll on a uniformed paved trail. Along the way, you will have great views of the Virgin River while seeing the breathtaking vertical canyon walls.
- Roundtrip: 1 hour
- 2.2 mi
- Elevation Change: 57 ft
Zion National park is home to over 78 species of mammals, 291 species of birds, 37 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 8 species of fish. Most frequent mammal sightings consist of: mule deer, bats, bighorn sheep, foxes, and rock squirrels. The key to sighting wildlife is knowing where and what time of day to look, and a little luck doesn’t hurt either. Mule deer are commonly seen during the day scattered along the canyon floor but rock squirrels are more common in the rocky terrain.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes
Go to the beach in the mountains! This place is a childhood dream. You can spend hours playing, hiking, and jumping off sand dunes. There are day-use picnic areas as well as a full campground depending on your adventures. Changed by winds, these mountains and hills of sand can move as much as 50 feet per year. With areas for off-highway vehicle enthusiasts and those with no motorized pursuits, the dunes offer adventures for all.
Trip Budget to Southern Utah
Southern Utah is an affordable weekend getaway from Box Elder County. Our family of four enjoyed this weekend treat in luxury for $350. You could do this trip for less if you cook yourself and avoid the gift shop at the park. There are also some great places nearby to camp if you want to winter camp and avoid the cost of accommodations.
- Fuel $70
- Accommodations $70/night
- Food & Dining $90
- Souvenirs $50
Total Trip $350
Have you adventured in Southern Utah? Share one of your trip highlights with us!