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Must visit national parks and awe-inspiring places in Arizona and Utah you can reach easily within 1 -  3 hours (max) from Antelope Canyon by car! Those are Monument Valley, The Wave, Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon National Park. Except for Monument Valley, all destinations can be easily reached from Las Vegas and Valley of Fire State Park as well.

 
4.75


‘Breathtaking! And when you see it in life it’s just epic in its proportions!’

Monument Valley is not a National Park. It’s a Navajo Tribal Park with a stunning desert like landscape in Arizona and an excellent year-round destination. Seasons with pleasant weather and without a lot of traffic on the scenic drive are early spring (late March/April) and late autumn (October). Cooler but very quiet months are the winter months from November until March. Read on for more season details (spring -summer - fall - winter), the best ‘WHEN TO GO’ tips and our detailed hotel and camping guide.

Weather and Visitation

Despite the possibility for extreme weather conditions with some very hot days in the summer and a few colder times in the winter, most days of the year are quite suitable for an enjoyable visit. Due to the higher elevation of 5200 feet it’s a little cooler in general. The Wind is a major force in the valley. Even in the warmer months of spring and fall, bring an extra layer of cloth as it can get chilly in the mornings or late evenings. Light rain gear is also a good idea.


 

April - May (Spring)

The average maximum daytime temperature in April is a pleasant 19°C (66°F). In May it gets warmer with an average maximum of 25°C (77°F). That means both months are perfect for a visit. Most April visitors report, that it’s still quiet most of the time. In May it gets busier but still not heavily crowded. Keep in mind that particularly from April into June it’s often more windy than usual and it can become horrible dusty due to heavy winds.

June - July - August (Summer)

Clear, warm, sunny days and cool nights make this a delightful season to visit. July and August bring the warmest conditions, with temperatures in the 90s (over 33 °C) but rarely exceed 100 °F. The Visitor Center, as well as the scenic drive, become very busy during these summer months. Always check the weather forecast for occasional summer thunderstorms, especially from July to mid-September.

September - October (Autumn)

Still warm in September and pleasant temperatures in October. Autumn provides some of the most stable weather of the year. Keep in mind that in September even after labor day the scenic drive and the Visitor Center are often still busy. In October the crowds get smaller and there is less traffic on the road.

November -  March (Winter / Early Spring)

Mild cold weather conditions start around mid-November. Snow conditions start later around mid-December and can last until February/early-March. Even in the winter, temperatures below 0 °F (−18 °C) are rare. But still, a warm coat is highly recommended. The valley only receives an occasional light snowfall and sometimes snowstorms in the winter. However, the snow melts usually within a day or two. Most visitors report that it's no problem to drive with almost any kind of car in the colder months. Winter is the perfect time for solitude without the crowds and low prices. Lucky visitors can see the valley and rock formations dusted in snow. Later in early spring, March is a great month without the holiday crowds and temperatures get more pleasant as they can rise up to 60°F (15°C), nights and mornings are still cool and chilly though.

 

Avoiding Tourist Crowds (Visitor Center / View Hotel / Scenic Drive)

Crowds in Monument Valley means a busy road while driving the scenic loop, many tourists at the Visitor Center and a fully booked View Hotel. The busiest months are from May to September with a peak in the summer months: late June, July and August. (The ‘official peak-season’ with different opening times is from April through September) If you plan to stay at ‘The View Hotel’ in high season, book well in advance. Also, keep in mind that the hotel rates are at their highest. Sometimes there are even busy days / weekends on the road in April or October. However, most visitors experience a rather quiet drive in early spring or late autumn and real solitude in the winter. During busier months the traffic starts to pick up around 10 AM. That means you can’t just pull over and take pictures at will because of the traffic and dust. In peak season the major viewpoints are crowded resulting in big traffic jams. Avoid those busy times by starting early in the morning with less traffic and less dust. Even in early spring and late fall, you’ll benefit by heading out at breakfast time. Avoid weekends and try to go on a weekday. Another option is to visit in the cooler months or even in the winter: It’s colder, but especially in December, January and February you’ll experience peace and solace. November (up to 12°C / 54°F) as well as March (up to 14°C / 57°F) bring more pleasant temperatures but it’s still much quieter than during busier months.

Another possible alternative to get away from the crowds during high season: Either take the self-guided hike on the Wildcat-Trail (see below) in the morning or purchase one of the Navajo tours for smaller groups. Some visitors book a tour for their family group only. Further reading on seasons and crowds: Some interesting and useful ‘when to go’ statements on TripAdvisor Peak vs Off-Season

 

Time of Day (Sunrise/Sunset)

Sunrise is not only the best time to dodge the crowds and avoid a busy road, it’s also a magical moment. To experience a stunning sunrise in the winter or late fall, stay at The View Hotel as you can't get into the park before 8 AM in off-season from the outside. In peak season they open at 6 AM. However, most visitors say, that watching the sunrise from the View Hotel is priceless regardless of the season. If you can, stay until sunset as well. It’s spectacular and unforgettable! Quote from our user Ray Downs: “Sunrise is great everywhere and sunset is best from the parking lot of the view hotel parking lot...that is where the banner photo was taken.” Check sunrise and sunset in advance here: Sunrise - Sunset Times Monument Valley

 

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4.5

Bryce Canyon National Park boasts the most beautiful sandstone scenery in the American West.

Bryce Canyon is one of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. However, there are a lot of things to consider if you’d like to make this a visit you’ll remember forever. We wrote this guide to give you the best tips for Bryce Canyon in terms of the best time (months), weather, busy times, best hikes, personal hotel tips, and more. You shouldn’t miss our complete season guide and tips for the 5 Amazing Must-Know Walks and Hikes at the end of this article!

The best time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park in terms of weather is from May until September. The temperatures are usually mild between 63°F and 80°F (17°C – 27°C). However, it’s peak season. If you want to avoid busy times and still experience mostly pleasant weather, go in April or October.

Guide-Book Tip: Check out the best guidebook for Bryce and Zion which is available: Zion & Bryce Canyon National Parks. Tour Tip: This one is unforgettable: You spend three days with the best tour guides you can imagine and explore stunning Zion and Bryce National Parks, Monument Valley, as well as Antelope Canyon and Grand Canyon. You ride with a 4x4 jeep through Monument Valley and get world class photo opportunities on this once in a lifetime tour. Hassle-free with with everything taken care of! Read the reviews: Bryce, Antelope, Grand Canyons, Zion & Monument Valley - Exclusive Tour


Monthly Weather and Busy Times

Sitting at a relatively high elevation of 8,000 to 9,000 feet, Bryce Canyon National Park is colder than any national park in Utah including Zion, Canyonlands and Arches. Summer temperature is pleasant and mild with little fluctuations. Night time in spring and fall are chilly but winter is the coldest with plenty of snowfall. Remember to pack your warm clothes when planning your trip to Bryce Canyon National Park anytime of the year. Monthly average maximum temperatures:

More details: Bryce Canyon Climate

Spring (March – May): Weather during spring transition from cold to mildly warm. Nonetheless, visitors still need a jacket particularly in March and April. This is the time to see snow melt from the higher elevation mountains surrounding this spectacular park. However, especially March is still considered a 'winter month' with snow and often unpleasent temps. April is the time when most Bryce experts consider going: The snow is melting and it's the first 'warmer' month as temperatures are getting more pleasant in April.  It doesn't matter that the trails are still muddy and that’s it's unlikely to see flowers. Also, keep in mind that nights in April and May are chilly. 

 

Summer (June – August): Experience pleasant days and cool nights during summer. The best weather is in July, the warmest month. Rainfall during mid to late summer comes as afternoon thundershowers. These are also the peak tourist months with heavy crowds.

Fall (September – October): Especially September is a great month with pleasant temperatures, blue sky, clear and crisp air. However, weather can be unpredictable and fall nights can be relatively chilly. It is possible to experience some snowfall in October.

Winter (November – February): Winter is the coldest time to visit Bryce Canyon. One will experience lots of snow between January and February, making it ideal time to enjoy snow activities such as skiing and sledging. Much of the area experience the occasional snowstorm from October through April. The coldest month is December. Few facilities and amenities will either remain closed or reduce their operating hours. The shuttle won't operate in winter. However, it's still worth visiting in the colder months! Why? 1) No crowds, you have the park almost to yourself. 2) It's cold but definitely not freezing cold during the day. 3) Accommodation prices are at their lowest with great discounts (check our hotel tips below). There are also a lot of amazing things to do in the winter. We loved the 'Ranger Guided Snowshoe Hike'. Check the official park website for more information: NPS - Bryce Canyon Winter Visit


Avoiding Tourist Crowds

The park is attracting over 2.6 million people annually now (2018). Summertime is the peak tourist season and very busy. Quieter times are winter, early spring and late fall. In September, the crowds start to thin out slightly after Labor Day (first Monday in September). However, not on weekends, as they are still packed in September.  June, July and August bring the heaviest crowds. In May it already starts to get busy, especially on weekends.

To avoid the crowds, start your day’s exploration early and go mid-week if possible. Finding the perfect parking space can sometimes be challenging especially at the view points along the scenic drive. However, you can find a nice parking spot just few kilometers away from the more packed ones. Special Tip: If you want to park your car at Sunset Point (limited parking only), arrive there around 7 a.m. A park ranger even suggested 6 a.m.! Otherwise it's better to use the shuttle (see below). Hiking enthusiasts should also start very early as most hiking trails will be packed later. The family friendly and moderate trails are packed in high season: Rim Trail, Queens Garden Loop, Navajo Loop, … You can find solitude, even in peak season, on the more strenuous day hikes like Fairyland Loop and Peekaboo Loop. Especially if you start early. Looking for very easy, short hikes or walks? Read our guide with the 5 best hikes and walks at the end of this article.  

Opening Hours and Shuttles

The park is open 24 hours throughout the year. The Visitor center is modern, with everything you need. No restaurant though. Visitor Center Operating Hours . Shuttle service for the Bryce Canyon stops in late October and resumes with the start of spring in mid-April. Detailed schedule: Bryce Canyon Park Shuttle Is is it free? Yes, there is no additional fee. You can use the shuttle as often as you like. It's all included in the $35 entrance fee to Bryce Canyon.

Hiking
US United States
4.833335

Like the paradise it was named after, Zion National Park is the kind of place that you won't believe exists even when you see it yourself.

The best time to visit Zion is either in April or October. In April the summer crowds haven’t arrived yet and the weather is pleasant with temps around 73°F (23°C). In October most crowds are gone, temps hover around 78°F (26°C), and you can witness the fall colors. The shuttle runs in both months.


Zion: The Narrows in summer with crowds and without crowds in spring

We provide you with tips on how to avoid the crowds, even in peak season. In general, Zion N.P. can can be visited year-round. 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. As well, the services available will vary based on the season.

Below you’ll find a weather overview and a paragraph on how to avoid the busy times. Even more tips can be found in our complete guide with every season explained in detail. We put 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.

Hiking
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5
 

Our unique Ultimate Guide to 'The Wave'. Covering everything from winning the lottery, weather to insider tips:

Otherworldly! The Wave - Coyote Buttes North. One of the most fascinating hikes on our planet! However, there is one catch: You have to win a permit! How to increase your chances and answers to every other possible questions you might have are covered here. You'll learn things no one else tells you about 'The Wave'! Read our powerful planning guide below (check our huge infographic!). This guide was updated 2019.

5 Proven Quick-Tips | Winning a Permit

Our famous 5 proven must-know tips for the lottery (how to win a permit) at a glance:

  1. Months: Highest chance for a permit in January / early February
  2. Walk-In Lottery: Enter the lottery for at least 2 consecutive days
  3. Walk-In Lottery: Between November and March. Plus: Enter on a Friday as well
  4. Online-Lottery: Wait until the end of the month before entering the lottery (it's NOT first-come, first-served!)
  5. Online-Lottery: Select 3 dates with the fewest applicants

Read on for more detailed tips and everything you should know before you go.

Permits

There is no more real off-season in terms of lottery applicants. Don't trust older reviews and articles. Winning becomes less likely every year. However, the chances to win a permit are still a little better in the winter months. Especially in January and early February. Find more insider tips on how to win a permit in the text and big infographic further below.

Crowds and Weather

Since only 20 persons per day are allowed, crowds are not an issue. However, Kanab (Visitor Center) and Page are less crowded if you avoid peak tourist months (late June, July, August). In terms of weather, we recommend spring (March, April, May) or fall (September, October, November): The temperatures are moderate and the cloud cover is reasonable, particularly in April/May. In summer (June/July/August) it gets very hot (100°F, 40°C). You should start very early to beat the heat. In the winter the ground might be snow covered and muddy. This may result in an impassable road sometimes. The cloud cover is higher in winter as well. However, you should keep in mind that the weather doesn't matter that much: Try to win a permit for this unique hike, regardless of the weather.

Photography (Time of Day)

A sixty foot buttes causes massive shadows and the best time to take photos there is often not sunrise/sunset. However, almost any time for a photo is great when you're at this otherworldly place. Extra tip: Look for puddles to capture great reflections.

Hiking
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