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Capitol Reef National Park   |  Andrew Burr

Tip for Visiting Southern Utah in Winter

Bright sunny skies, brilliant red rock and a light dusting of fresh snow make for an idyllic Southern Utah winter scene. Cooler temperatures through the winter months can also mean less traffic and more solitude on the trails. But the region’s geography and topography are diverse, and high elevation areas and shady canyons can see deep snow, icy trails and sub-zero conditions.

Whether exploring sun-soaked trails, skiing across snowy slopes, or strolling through downtown, a winter visit to Southern Utah is unforgettable. And with a bit of special preparation, it can also be safe and enjoyable.

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Winter Activities in Southern Utah

You'll find a wide range of activities to enjoy during the winter in Southern Utah, including downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling, as well as hiking, mountain biking and off-roading (as long as the trails are in good condition — keep an eye on closures and conditions). Camping and backpacking are also possible, though in winter they require additional skills, preparation, equipment and experience. Consider going with a guide service or joining an organized trip if you're unfamiliar.

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Support Local Communities

While winter in Southern Utah may mean more solitude and less traffic for travelers, it can also translate to fewer patrons for small businesses. Supporting local communities during your travels can have a profound impact. Consider stocking up on groceries locally, stopping by an artisan shop or bookstore, or dining at an area restaurant — either eating on-site or grabbing take-out to enjoy at a scenic viewpoint (just remember to pack out what you pack in).

More ways to support local

But winter’s relative solitude means you will need to be self-sufficient in case of the unexpected, including emergencies.

Photo: Andrew Burr

Winter in Southern Utah can mean more solitude along the trails.

Photo: Andrew Burr

How to Prepare

Hiking Hickman Bridge Trail in Capitol Reef National Park

Photo: Andrew Burr

Be Respectful

Do your part to Keep Utah Forever Mighty by being a respectful and responsible visitor.

Leave No Trace: Be sure to follow the seven Leave No Trace Principles, including minimizing impact, disposing of waste properly and leaving things where you find them. If you find rock art or artifacts, leave them where they are and never make markings.

Watch out for Biocrust: Fragile cryptobiotic soils (which contain algae, microfungi and cyanobacteria) are an important part of the desert ecosystem. They serve vital roles, including reducing erosion, and are very susceptible to damage by off-road vehicles or even a footprint from veering off trail. Stay on the trail or travel on durable surfaces, and keep an eye out for these fragile soils so you “don’t bust the crust.” Read more tips for winter hiking in Utah.

Be Prepared When Nature Calls: In the event that nature calls and vault toilets are not available, the most responsible option is to pack it out. (Read: "How to Poop in the Outdoors"). Bring a “wag bag” with you and know how to use it — no one likes to come across toilet paper “flowers.”

Be Considerate of Others: Allow other visitors to experience nature's quiet and solitude. Be respectful when driving through neighboring communities, and dispose of trash only in properly designated locations.

Practice Mindful Photography: Capture incredible scenery and memories while being a mindful photographer. Learn how to photograph the red rock beauty without causing any ecological harm or detracting from other visitors’ experiences.

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