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When should you hike a trail? Some hikes lead to fascinating forests, some have tremendous views and others are rich in variety. Share your favorite trails with other hikers and nature lovers.

The best time to visit Acadia National Park in terms of pleasant weather is between late spring and fall. However, it's often crowded. A less busy time with great weather is the two weeks after Labor Day in September until mid-September, just before the leaf-peeping crowds arrive.

Read our complete overview for every season below with many useful tips. Tip: If you'd like experience something special in Maine and get away from the crowds, check out these great tours: Lighthouse, Coastal & Sailing Tours in Maine. And one of the best guidebooks out there for Acadia N.P.: Acadia - The Complete Guide (via Amazon)

We also collected the the best tips for short hikes and walks, as well as insider tips on how to avoid the crowds during peak season and fall color tips (direct navigation):


Season Tips for Acadia National Park

May - June | Spring 

Both months bring warmer and drier conditions. However, in May the trees aren't green yet and it might be too cold for water activities. Temperatures: Up to 51-75°F / 11-22°C in June. It’s pleasant weather for hiking and other outdoor activities. The downside is, depending on how rainy it has been before, there are biting bugs from mid-May until mid-June. Many facilities are open and May is still a quiet month, except for Memorial Day Weekend (end of May). In June it gets already busier but not as crowded as in July and August.

July - August | Summer 

Warm, most pleasant temperatures. Peak season. It gets very busy, even more in August. Booked accommodations, waiting lines, crowded parking lots, congested Park Loop Road and busy view points. To avoid the crowds during peak season, get to the park early in the morning or in the late afternoon around dinner time. More tips on how to avoid the crowds can be found below. 

September - October | Autumn - Fall Colors 

Early September after Labor Day until mid-September is a nice time to visit the park: The weather is pleasant (49-68°F / 9-20°C), it's not super quiet, but the heavy summer crowds are gone and the 'leaf peeping' crowds haven't arrived yet. It gets very busy again from late September until mid-October as thousands want to see the leaf color explosion in fall. The best time to experience the amazing colors is usually mid-October. Tip: Read our '7 Must-Know Fall Color Tips' below in the main text. Book ahead of time if you need accommodation during the ‘leaf peeping’ weeks. After Columbus Day in mid-October crowds dissipate and rates drop. This is another sweet spot time without the heavy crowds. The last week of October ist often still ok for watching the fall colors, but it also gets cold and rainy. 

November | Late Autumn 

Even in early November, it's usually too late for spotting the beautiful fall colors. Temperatures drop (33-48°F / 1-9°C ), try to visit until mid-November. It’s colder, but still worth to visit the park without the crowds, almost in solitude. Many facilities are closed though. Definitely, drive the Loop Road which is usually still open in November.

December - March | Winter 

It’s off season and very cold. Average temperature in January: 14-32 °F / 0-(-)10 °C . Time for snowmobiling and skiing. Most hotels, restaurants, campsites and attractions are closed. The scenic Park Loop Road is also closed from December until mid-April (weather dependant). More winter activity info: NPS Acadia Winter Activities

April | Early Spring

Many visitors would say that April ist is still not pleasant with melting snow and muddy ground. Average temperatures are between 25-41° F / 1-11° C. However, we'd definitely recommend this month. You might be wondering why? First of all, from mid-April the scenic Park Loop Road usually opens. Second, it's still quiet without any heavy crowds of other tourist. You'll have no issues with parking and can enjoy some places almost in solitude. While there are still signs of winter, the scenery is just breathtaking. Some say the views are even more amazing with no leaves on the trees. Bottom line: We think a visit between mid and late April is a great time!


Weather


Photo by Mick Haupt via Unsplash

Regardless of monthly temperatures we described above, you should know that in Maine the weather can change dramatically during the year. However, temperatures along the coast in Acadia N.P. are moderated by the ocean. In the graph below you'll find the average monthly highs. Least rainfall is in June, July and August. But still, keep in mind that the weather is often unpredictable and can change instantly. Be prepared for rain at any time.

 

 
Avoiding Tourist Crowds

It gets crowded in Acadia National Park in summer and fall. A sweet spot time without the heavy crowds but mostly pleasant temperatures used to be those two weeks in September (after Labor Day until mid-September). However, it's not that quiet anymore during this time, especially in the recent years as visitation increased. Otherwise, there are two different sweet spots weeks with mostly pleasant weather and few visitors: A) The weeks after Columbus Day (mid-October) until early November.  B) Early June until mid-June: Although it's already busy at places like Bar Harbor, visitors report that most hiking trails in the park are not crowded.

 

However, if you plan to visit during the summer and leaf peeping time in fall, we have three great tips to avoid crowds:

1. Be Early or Late:
The majority of people tend to visit Acadia from mid-morning to afternoon. Get up early and try to be at the most visited spots or trailheads before 9:00 AM. Usually, the crowds start to arrive around 10:00 AM. Incredibly popular spots like the summit of Cadillac Mountain can be crowded earlier. Be there at 8:00 A.M. and you'll dodge the heavy crowds at the top. Another advantage to visiting early is the great light for photos and the higher chance of spotting wildlife. Check out this great Ranger Early Bird Video. Alternatively, visit the favorite spots later around dinner time or head out on a short trail just before sunset. Just after 5 P.M. is a perfect time since most are heading back for dinner around that time. However, make sure to be back when there is still daylight. It's too dangerous to hike in the dark.

2. Visit Quieter Areas:
Head to the less traveled places and trails. On the 'quiet side' of Mount Desert Island west of Somes Sound, try out Acadia Mountain Loop or the Beech Cliff Trail (see below in the hiking section). Or you could head to Schoodic Peninsula (Google Maps) on the mainland, or the quietest side of Isle au Haut, accessible only by mail boat.

3. Use the Shuttle:
If you are visiting between late June and Columbus day, use the free Island Explorer Shuttle. It takes away all the worries of full parking lots at trailheads and congested parking areas at popular places like Cadillac Mountain or Bar Harbor. There are bus stops at all well-known places. They even added one for the trailhead of Caddilac North Ridge Trail (see below in the hiking section). Additionaly, you can always ask the bus driver to let you off, even if it’s not an official stop.
 

US United States

Zion National Park is a great year-round destination. It's open every day and can definitely be visited in every season. Depending on what time of year you go, you will be faced with different conditions that you need to prepare for. Summer is hot and dry, spring and fall vary widely and winter is cold and wet. Also, the services available will vary based on the season. 


The image is showing Zion in the hot summer with crowds and in spring (or fall) without the crowds (The Narrows)

The best time to visit Zion is during spring and fall. In April, the summer crowds have not arrived yet and the weather is pleasant with temperatures around 73°F (23°C). Between late September and October most crowds are gone, and it is still warm with an average of 78°F (26°C).

Find more tips in our complete guide below with every season and month explained in detail. We wrote down what you can expect to encounter on a monthly basis. The seasons are broken down based on the weather rather than the calendar. Finally we added tips and information about when The Narrows are open and the operating times for the Zion Shuttle System.

Weather Overview

Always keep in mind that the difference between dayime temperatures (see above) and during the night can be 30°F (15°C). In summer, it is oven-like and can get well above 100°F (38°C) and on the other side thunderstorms occur. If you go in the middle of summer avoid long hikes. In the winter snow and ice can be an issue. However, winter is a great time without any crowds and an awesome experience. It's not too cold! Check out this video on YouTube: Zion in Winter Another huge advantage in the winter: Accommodation rates are at their lowest. Check the hotel deals below. For the official helpful season guide visit: NPS - Zion Seasons

 
Avoiding Busy Times


Official Zion National Park Visitors 2018/2019

Peak months are June to August. A little less crowded in spring and fall. Very quiet in December, January, February but bear in mind road or trails can be closed. However, you can avoid crowds year-round by starting your hike or exploration right after sunrise. At that time you’ll have the park almost for yourself. Most visitors don’t start before 10 a.m. In the morning there is also a better chance of spotting wildlife and the best light for photos.

Shuttle Overview: From March to October you have to take the shuttle bus, cars are not permitted. Usually, from November to February you can park your car at the available parking lots. The scenic drive in Zion can be closed on weekends in February and shuttle bus transportation has to be taken. Read more details about the shuttle system further below in our shuttle paragraph.

 

Spring | March and April

Spring is a great time to visit Zion NP as the temperature is not as hot as summer. Spring can be volatile so bring warm layers and rain gear as the weather can change quickly. Mornings tend to be cool but warm up as the sun heats the valley.

March is the start of spring in Zion which is an unpredictable transition time with warmer days but is also with up to 8 days of rain. The temperatures make for great hiking as it's not too hot and not too cold. Daylight is getting longer as well which means you will have more time to explore.

If there is a high amount of snow up on top of the canyons then the many seasonal waterfalls will start to flow. They are usually dried up by summer so it is a treat to see. This meltwater can make the Virgin River a raging torrent so keep away from the banks. The Narrows is closed during spring due to the water levels and current.

Flash Flood Danger: Always check with the visitor center for any flash flood warnings and the daily weather forecast. I've witnessed the sheer power of nature as we watched from upon a ledge a trickling stream transform into a wall of water in seconds. With steep terrain when it rains it will all get funneled to the low points which tend to be the canyons so you might not know it's coming because it rained many miles away. If when hiking in a canyon and you hear a rumble upstream and feel a cool damp breeze, get to high ground as this may signal an imminent flash flood.

While down low is becoming warmer and lush the trails up atop the canyon may still have snow and ice late into March so bring traction devices if you plan to hike at the higher elevations. The trees start to bud and the canyon floor appears to come back to life after a winter slumber. But winter and the spring melt can take a toll on the trails with flood damage and downed trees, so check at the visitor center or the Zion National Park webpage to find out about current trail conditions.

In the month of April the wildflowers really start to bloom. Longer days, less rain and warmer temperatures make this an almost idyllic time to visit. Early April is one of our favorite times to go as it's not too hot, waterfalls are often still flowing and the crowds aren't excessive. By this point, all of the trails but the Narrows are open. The snow is melted and the rock dry so rock climbing is often perfect during this window as well.

Backpacking Tip: If you want to go backpacking then consider going in on the northwest side at Kolob Canyon or on the east side for the East Rim Trail. There are local shuttle services that will take you from one trailhead to another and you can hike back to your car. There are also loop routes that will bring you back to where you started. If your route starts or ends in the main canyon make sure you are finished before the shuttles stop running as there is no camping in that part of the park. You will require a backcountry camping permit that is available online or in-person at the Visitor Center.

Weather: Warm days with cool nights and mornings. Wettest time of year with regular rain.

AveragesMarchApril
Daily High63°F (17°C)73°F (23°C)
Daily Low36°F (2°C)43°F (6°C)
Days of Rain86
Rainfall1.7 inches1.3 inches

Park Services: The shuttle buses start running in March so private vehicles are not allowed on the canyon road. The shuttles are free with park admission. While the visitor center is open year-round, other amenities like the South Campground and Human History Museum open back up for the season in the spring.

Crowds: March sees a huge spike in traffic over February due to the improving weather and spring break but is still only half of the peak traffic in the summer. April ramps up again as it may be one of the best months for hiking, climbing and general exploring. During weekends and spring break it's advised to get to the park early in the morning (before 8 am) to get a parking spot and avoid crowds on the trails, especially Angel's Landing.

 

Summer | May, June, July, August, September

With the warm weather comes the crowds. The span from May to September is the busiest time of year with over half a million people visiting the park each month. May marks the beginning of summer in Zion. Daily high temperatures are getting to be over 80°F (27°C). At this point, any damage from spring flooding will usually be repaired so all the hiking trails should be open spreading the crowds out.

From June to Mid August you will find a lot of families with children on summer vacation so the park has several programs for kids and shorter easier hikes. There are ranger-led walks and talks that will give you an understanding of Zion NP while being easy enough for even young kids. There are also nature games, music, and storytelling on the lawn of the Zion Lodge. Check for the schedule each day.

Parking in Summer: During the busy times of June, July, and August you avoid parking issues in the park with one must-know tip: Use the free shuttle service from Springdale to the entrance of Zion NP! It runs roughly every 10 minutes and the pick-up spots are close to the hotels in town. Tip: Read our shuttle section below the season guide.

The Narrows: In May the chances of hiking The Narrows are good. However, the water is freezingly cold (see below). The first time we ever went to Zion was in May 2000. No shuttle, no gear (neoprene) to rent, nothing. We are experienced hikes had to return after a few minutes due to the freezingly cold water. June is a safe bet for the Narrows hike to be open. This hike is in the Virgin River walking either from the canyon upstream or a longer multi day trek downstream. To hike the whole downstream stretch requires a permit but a day outing upstream as far as Big Spring. We’ve done the upstream hike (no permit required) in the summer and while it is extremely hot out the water, the river was surprisingly cold. You will want to wear water hiking shoes and use poles as the uneven rocky bottom and the current makes it treacherous in places. To do the downstream hike which is 16 miles you will also need to arrange a shuttle to Chamberlain's Ranch as it starts outside the park. If you are interested in this hike always check with the Visitor Center as flash floods happen in the summer due to thunderstorms. You can rent canyoneering boots and neoprene socks if you find the water too cold. If a thunderstorm is forecast the Narrows is closed to avoid dangerous conditions.

Hiking and other activities in June, July and August should be started early in the morning or later afternoon due to the heat. Wear a wide-brimmed hat as well as UV protective clothing and sunglasses to protect against the sun. Cover any exposed skin with sunscreen. The hot dry air will dehydrate you faster than you would expect if you are not used to it. Bring about a quart of water per hour of hiking. Electrolyte drink mix added to your water can help your body retain moisture and replace what you are sweating out. There are places to fill water bottles at the Visitor Center, Grotto, and Zion Lodge.

September is still busy but slightly less than the peak of summer. If you visit in September, go after Labor Day weekend and try to avoid the other weekends as well. That way you’ll avoid most of the crowds Temperatures are slightly cooler making hikes more enjoyable.

Weather: Hot days with warm nights. Relatively dry but frequent thunderstorms which can lead to flash floods.

AveragesMayJuneJulyAugustSept
Daily High83°F (28°C)93°F (34°C)100°F (38°C)97°F (36°C)91°F (33°C)
Daily Low52°F (2°C)60°F (16°C)68°F (20°C)66°F (19°C)60°F (16°C)
Days of Rain53564
Rainfall0.7 inches0.6 inches0.8 inches1.3 inches0.8 inches

Park Services: Summer is the time where the park is going full speed. Unless otherwise posted all programs are running and all the attractions are open. The shuttle buses will be running roughly every seven minutes so you don't have to wait long if you missed one. >> raus und in generellen Shuttle Abschnitt: There are shuttles from Springdale to the park and shuttles within the park so you have options on where you park.

Crowds: This is the high traffic time of year with more planning and reservations needed. July is the peak month with over 600,000 people going through the gates. Because this is peak season expect lineups for shuttle buses and parking to be harder to find. If you plan to head to Zion NP during the summer make sure you book accommodation in Springdale or the park campsites months in advance as everything books up quickly.

 

Fall | October and November

Aside from cool temperatures, October and November bring the fall colors. One of the coolest things you will see is the descent of the color change as it starts at the top of the canyon and works its way to lower elevations with the peak in the valley in late October.

Temps: In fall the temperatures can vary so bring layers for warmth as well as sun protection. The temperature can vary by 30 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. We carry beanie hats, light thermal gloves and some light layers which will let us adjust our comfort level if the temperatures drop or the wind picks up.

Crowds: This is our favorite time to visit as the crowds are decreasing and the weather is more pleasant if you are hiking or climbing. Just make sure you have a headlamp with you as the days are getting shorter and you don't want to accidentally get stuck out after dark.

The Narrows: In the fall, the Narrows start to get too cold to go bare-legged so insulated water gear is suggested. You can rent canyoneering boots, wading pole, dry pants, waterproof backpack, and neoprene socks from Zion Outfitters in Springdale right by the Visitor Center. You can rent the boots and socks in the warmer weather if you just need better traction as well.

Drive: Fall is the best time to drive the Mt. Carmel Highway and experience the tunnel. The tunnel is about a mile long with hole cut in the rock so you can see out. The switchbacking road has many pull-offs that let you get beautiful views. Just after the tunnel, there is a pull out on the right to park and hike the Canyon Overlook Trail. This will give you a great view of the canyon.

Weather: Moderate daytime temperatures with cool nights and mornings. November can see snow at higher altitudes.

US United States

Mount Cook - Aoraki in Maori, one of the most famous places in New Zealand is exceptional in all types of weather. It is the highest mountain of NZ at a height of 3.724 m/12217 ft. The summiz of Mount Cook is covered in snow the entire year. Forty percent of the National Park is covered by the largest glaciers. Nineteen of the peaks are more than 3.000 m high. This park has lots of superlatives.

Read our season guide below, our advice why Aoraki/Mount Cook is worth visiting and our 5 Amazing Must-Do Walks and Hikes as well as our 9 Tips for Mount Cook

Weather and Crowds Mount Cook

Mount Cook view from Hooker Lake

Rain and snow can occur throughout the year; however; the summer is the sunniest time. The weather is changing quickly in the South Alps of NZ. So even if the forecast is excellent be prepared for strong winds, rain, and snow. The mentioned temps for each season are for Mount Cook Village on 760 m elevations.

Spring (September - November)

Mount Cook during spring view from Hooker Lake

In spring the Mount Cook Village can still experience minus degrees in the night and day temps are pleasant on average between 15-18°C degrees. Nowadays, with climate change temps in the high 20 can occur. Rain is increasing; showers are likely to happen, but it doesn’t mean it’s raining the entire day.

Summer (December - February)

Aoraki - Mount Cook in summer view from Sealy Tarns Track

December and January are the wettest and warmest months of the year. Rain is already decreasing in February. During summer day temps are on average around 20°C degrees. On a clear and sunny day, temps can climb up to 35°C. Night temps are on average around 10°C. Summer is the busiest time of the year. The limited accommodation options are usually fully booked far in advance.

Autumn (March - May)

Mount Cook during fall - view from the Hooker Valley

There is less precipitation during autumn. March is still pleasant with day temps around 20°C on average. It gets colder in April and May with day temps around 15°C but one-digit temps can occur as well. Nights are cold, and minus degrees can happen. It’ a little quieter already and again packed with tourists during Easter. We spent three nights here on Easter and experienced all-weather; blue sunny skies, rain, snow, and hail on the day we left.

Winter (June - August)

Mount Cook - Aoraki covered in snow during winter

It’s chilly here during winter on average 10°C and colder, however, 20° C can happen but that’s rare to experience. Nights are pretty cold, especially if you plan to camp. Expect minus degrees during the night. Some huts and trails on higher elevation may be closed but the most popular ones are less busy.

Exact weather forecast for Mount Cook

Accommodations and Camping in the Aoraki – Mount Cook National Park

Campground in the 'Aoraki - Mount Cook Village

Mount Cook village is easy to reach but there is just one long road leading along Lake Pukaki to the village and out. If you don’t stay in the village it is quite a journey. You need at least three hours from Queenstown and four from Christchurch. There are very few accommodations the reason that advanced booking is utterly necessary throughout the year. Lodges, Chalet, and Motel for Aoraki (Bookmark the Link for price guarantee at booking.com). Stay at least 3 better 4 days in case of poor weather. The weather can change very quickly here in the NZ Alps. We experienced sunny blue skies, rain, hail, and, snow on our last day-

The doc campground is huge - 60 non-powered sites. You can pitch your tent wherever you want. It's first come first serve. There is one public shelter for cooking which is quite small in the peak season during rain or hail. Hot showers are only at the village available. However, nights are cold; temps can drop below zero. I know what I am talking about. The price is $15 per adult and children half.

NZ New Zealand

Ben Nevis is climed year around but the winter time is only for experienced mountaineers, people still die on the mountain. In the summertime it is one of the most popular hikes in Scotland, since it is the highest peak of the UK.

GB United Kingdom

Mount Olympus, the mountain of the gods, is an impressive geographical hike, the maximum altitude is 2.917 meters, but it's only some kilometers from the Aegean Sea. Best season is from June until the end of September. In the spring the mountaintop is known for thunderstorms, hence the number of trees felled by lightning.

GR Greece

September and October. Rain season is finished and there is not too much snow.

CN China