Utah's oldest and most famous national park receives more than three million visitors a year, but you'd never know it from the scant crowds that venture into Zion National Park in the winter. Compared to other parks, visitation is relatively high, but nowhere near the mob scenes that prevail from March to October.
One of the principal geological features of Zion is the Narrows of the Virgin River, a tight, high-walled canyon. The Virgin River flows year-round, and it's just too cold to do more than a brief exploration of the canyon, but the area is accessible by a road and trail. A good two-mile hike along the river, called the Temple of Sinawava trail, parallels the water and ends at the Narrows.
All of the park roads and most trails are open, but higher elevation trails will probably be closed by snow. These include Angel's Landing and Hidden Canyon, a couple of spectacular hikes that ascend to the heights above the floor of the park. Plan on viewing them from below until late spring.
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Written by Jim Wright for GORP.
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