Utah In Winter

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A place like Utah is often overlooked in winter as many visitors choose to visit the state’s top attractions in summer. But Utah is a truly wonderful winter destination, whether you’ve been there before or it’s your first time. As Utah is home to not one but five amazing national parks – Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion – this alone should be a big reason to visit the state. Utah also has a lot more to offer than just the state parks (though they are amazing), from tubing to ice skating and even the Ice Castles, there’s plenty to see and do in Utah in winter.

Utah In Winter

Top Tours And Tickets

Zion Sunset Jeep Tour
Zion National Park in winter in Utah.

20 Things To Do In Utah In Winter

1- See The Holiday Lights In Temple Square

If you are visiting Salt Lake City you must head to Temple Square, which is the city’s historic area and home to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The church at the heart of the square is the largest Mormon temple in the world and stands at 210 ft (64 m) tall.

The temple is made from granite in a neo-Gothic style and was built between 1853 and 1893.

The square covers five city blocks and there are plenty of things to do in the area.

Take a tour of the temple, learn more about Salt Lake City at the South Visitors Center, visit the National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and tour the Beehive House.

Temple Square is particularly impressive when the holiday lights illuminate the city in an annual tradition that starts the day after Thanksgiving and stays until New Year’s Day.

There are believed to be more than one million lights in the square!

Temple Square is at 50 North Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150. Join a guided bus tour.

2- Visit Midway Ice Castle

There’s no better way to get in the winter festive mood than visiting the Ice Castles and Midway’s Ice Castles is one of five across the U.S. 

Be sure to grab your tickets early as this attraction often books up quickly! This icy wonderland is spectacular.

View the carved ice castles, venture through ice tunnels and under archways and even ride ice slides.

To make your experience even better, enjoy a sleigh ride along the wooded winter trail.

Midway Ice Castles are at 2002 Soldier Hollow Ln, Midway, UT 84049. 

3- Park City Sleigh Rides

Park City is east of Salt Lake City and it’s an excellent place to take a sleigh ride with friends.

Park City Sleigh Rides offer private and group horse-drawn sleigh rides.

These sleigh rides are the perfect addition to any Utah winter vacation.

Wrap up warm and you will glide through the snow from Canyons Resort to Willow Draw.

Fun and friendly guides only add to your unique experience.

This would make for a wonderful date night idea or even as a treat as part of a big event like a wedding or an anniversary.

Park City Sleigh Rides are at 4000 Canyons Resort Dr, Park City, UT 84098.

4- Ice Skate at Utah Olympic Oval – Kearns

Woman Teaching Her Daughter How To Ice Skate
Ice skating is one of the fun sports in Utah in winter.

Are you one of those picture-perfect ice skaters or do you spend most time on the floor? Whichever ice skater you are, enjoy a skate around at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, township in Salt Lake City.

The 400-metre ice oval is nicknamed the “fastest ice on earth”, so bring your own skates or rent from a selection of more than 1,200 pairs of figure and hockey skates.

Go for a romantic skate or a competitive skate with friends.

The Utah Olympic Oval is a great place to visit during a Utah winter.

Utah Olympic Oval is at 5662 Cougar Ln, Kearns, UT 84118.

5- Meadow Hot Spring

Meadow Hot Spring is around 2 hours 20 minutes’ drive from Salt Lake City.

The springs are just south of Fillmore and a couple of minutes from I-15.

You will need to hike for around half a mile to reach the springs.

The springs are incredibly clear and deep.

The temperatures are around 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 °C).

The springs are found on private land so be sure to stick to the pathways and practice taking away everything you brough with you.

You can even enter the hot springs, there are three you can step into but the deepest hot spring is the best.

You can access the park year-round and if you dare undress in the colder months for a blissful dunk in the warm water.

6- Ice Fishing at Scofield Reservoir

Winter Sport Ice Fishing
Ice fishing in Utah in the winter.

Scofield Reservoir is 1 hour 20 minutes’ drive from Provo.

While many choose to visit Scofield Reservoir in summer and fall it’s a great winter spot as well.

Ice fishing is a truly unique experience and very different to regular fishing.

Scofield Reservoir is known for its tiger trout and the Utah record for tiger trout was caught back in 2013.

It is usually safe to start ice fishing from Thanksgiving onwards.

This means it’s one of the first big Utah fisheries to freeze.

Scofield Reservoir is at 5 W 1000 N, Helper, UT 84526.

7- Joe Quinney Winter Sports Center

The Joe Quinney Winter Sports Center is housed within the Utah Olympic Park in Park City.

This three-story building is home to the Alf Engen Ski Museum, the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame, 2002 Eccles Winter Olympic Museum and the Ecker Café.

If you are interested in all things Olympics then this is a wonderful place to visit.

The Alf Engen Ski Museum provides insight into the contributions made to skiing, athletic competitions, snow safety and ski innovation.

Joe Quinney Winter Sports Center is at Park City, UT 84098.

8- Northern Lights at Bear Lake

Did you know you can see the northern lights in Utah? It’s almost hard to believe that you can see them in Utah as most people picture seeing them in places as far north as Iceland and Alaska.

The Aurora Borealis is of course a phenomenon that you don’t see every day so it’s good to keep track by checking websites like the Space Weather Prediction Center for the best chance of seeing it.

Bear Lake is a small body of water behind Kings Peak directly east of Salt Lake City.

The northern lights have been seen at Bear Lake and even if you aren’t lucky enough to see them Bear Lake is a peaceful place to spend some time.

940 North Bear Lake Boulevard (US Highway 89), Garden City, UT 84028

9- Visit Ogden’s Christmas Village

Travel to Ogden for a magical Christmas wonderland.

Ogden’s 2023 Christmas Village is open from the 25th November through 1st January 2024.

One of the best things about this attraction is that it’s absolutely free.

At 5 pm the lights are turned on and the magic begins.

There are miniature gingerbread houses that are charmingly draped in Christmas lights.

The cute little houses even have windows showing miniature Christmas scenes inside.

Santa Claus also visits the Christmas village from weekdays from 6 pm to 9 pm) while Mrs. Claus gives guided tours to preschool age children from 10 am to 3 pm, Tuesday through Friday.

Ogden’s Christmas Village is 37 miles (59 km) north of Salt Lake City at 343 25th St, Ogden, UT 84401.

10- Bonneville Salt Flats

Private Half Day tour to Bonneville Salt Flats
Bonneville Salt Flats in winter in Utah.

You may have seen those incredible pictures of the salt flats in Bolivia, you know the ones there the people look really small and people do creative things like pretending to be eaten by a toy dinosaur.

Well, did you know the U.S. has its own version of the salt flats?

The Bonneville Salt Flats is in Tooele County, northwestern Utah.

Outside of the national parks this is a place you should definitely tick off your winter Utah bucket list.

The Bonneville Salt Flats occupies an area of 300,000 acres.

A salty crust has formed turning into these 12 miles (19 km) long and five miles (8 km) wide flats.

As well as taking beautiful photos you can also check out the Bonneville International Speedway.

Bonneville Salt Flats are at 4 E Wendover Blvd Wendover UT 84083.

11- Horse Riding

Park City is to the east of Salt Lake City close to Midway and it’s a great place to go horse riding in winter.

With Rocky Mountain Outfitters you can take one of the trails that departs from Soldier Hollow Ski Area.

These trails were used during the cross-country skiing at the 2002 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games.

You can go for the private horse ride or a group ride and riders must be eight years or older to participate.

You will start your ride with a 15 minute lesson before heading out on the trails.

Rocky Mountain Outfitter is at 633 W Soldier Holw Ln, Midway, UT 84049.

National/State Parks

12- Arches National Park

Arches National Park 4x4 Adventure from Moab
Arches National Park in Utah in the winter.

The arches at Arches National Park are highly unique and utterly breathtaking.

The landscapes you see today were formed around 15 million years ago by erosion.

It feels like no visit to Utah is complete without a trip to Arches National Park.

Arches National Park is just 10 minutes’ drive outside of Moab.

Many people at the park will spend two or three days there.

There’s plenty to do and if you plan on doing a lot of hiking you may want to stay for longer.

If you are visiting between the 1st April and 31st October, you must buy a timed entry ticket to enter the park.

You can get these tickets online up to three months before entering the park.

Some of the best viewpoints and trails include Balanced Rock, Courthouse Towers, Delicate Arch, Fiery Furnace and Double Arch Viewpoints.

In winter you can expect the orange rock to be speckled in snow but it’s not usually covered so it makes for beautiful photographs with the orange and white contrast.

Day temperatures in Arches National Park are between 30 and 50 degrees F (-1 to 10 °C) so be sure to bring your warm clothes.

13- Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park Day Tour with Lunch from Las Vegas
Bryce Canyon National Park in winter in Utah.

Another of Utah’s impressive national parks is Bryce Canyon in southern Utah.

The park is open year-round so winter is a truly unique time of year to visit.

The park is known for its giant limestone hoodoos, which in winter are often capped with snow.

From the park’s viewpoints you can see hoodoos at every turn.

In winter you can hike, snowshoe and cross-country ski.

Most snowfall occurs in December and February but it can snow as early as October.

Some of the best things to see and do in the park include:

  • Thor’s Hammer at Sunset Point Overlook
  • Guided snowshoe hike to Paria Viewpoint
  • Hike the Navajo Loop Trail

Bryce Canyon National Park is the second-most popular park in Utah but in winter you will find a lot less visitors.

14- Zion National Park

East Zion Crimson Canyon Hike & UTV Adventure
Zion National Park in Utah in winter.

Utah doesn’t do anyone a disservice with all the incredible national parks you can visit.

Zion National Park is definitely more frequented in summer but it’s also peaceful and lovely in winter too.

The park is quiet, there are plenty of hotels available near and it’s more affordable.

Even the popular hiking trail Angels Landing can be empty!

Some of the things you should do when visiting Zion National Park in winter include walking the the Riverside Trail, driving the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, hiking the Grotto Trial, Walter’s Wiggles, Angels Landing and the Canyon Overlook Trail.

You may also enjoy a Zion sunset jeep tour in winter.

15- Wasatch Mountain State Park 

Wasatch Mountain State Park is a 50 minute drive from Salt Lake City.

At this park you can enjoy snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter.

There are also 30 miles of ATV trails which wind through beautiful forest and the snow-covered high mountain desert.

The snow is usual hardpacked and the trails provide riders with moderate elevation gain.

The park has stunning views of the surrounding mountains which in winter are covered in snow.

The same day you visit Wasatch Mountain be sure to check out Soldier Hollow too.

The Soldier Hollow Nordic Center is in the park and it offers the longest tubing lanes in Utah at 1,200 feet (365 m).

Tubing is fun for the whole family but the kids will find it especially enjoyable.

Wasatch Mountain State Park is at 1281 Warm Springs Rd, Midway, UT 84049.

16- Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park In Winter, Utah, USA
Capitol Reef National Park in winter in Utah.

Another beautiful national park is Capitol Reef in south-central Utah.

The red rocks of Capitol Reef will have a beautiful dusting of snow during winter time.

The park is most popular between March and June and September and October so visiting over winter will mean less people.

Though it is a little less accessible during winter there are still plenty of things to do including hiking the Waterpocket Fold, Chimney Rock or Grand Wash Trails, horse riding at Robbers Roost and an ATV guided tour.

Visit Gooseneck Overlook and Sunset Point, view the Fremont Indian petroglyphs and go stargazing at Fruita Campground.

Ski Resorts To Visit In Utah In Winter

Snowy Ridges Behind Kings Peak
Snowbird Ski Resort has plenty of winter activities in Utah.

Check out these ski rental packages:

17- Snowbird Ski Resort

Located in Cottonwood Canyon just a 45-minute drive from Salt Lake City International Airport is Snowbird Ski Resort.

If you are flying into Utah for skiing you can even cram in a morning session before flying home in the evening!

The slopes at Snowbird are accessible for all types of skiers and snowboarders.

Intermediate and advanced skiers will find an array of thrilling runs and beginners are not limited to just the baby slopes.

It’s not just skiing and snowboarding you can enjoy at this resort.

If you are experienced you can back-country heli-ski and snowmobile too.

Snowbird Ski Resort is at 9385 S Snowbird Center Trail, Snowbird, UT 84092.

18- Alta Ski Area

Alta Ski Area is just an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City International Airport.

This resort has some of the best snow quality in the west and is spread over more than four square miles.

Lift-service terrain covers more than 2,500 vertical feet (762 m).

Head first to Albion Day Lodge where you can take lessons at the Alf Engen Ski School or just hit the ski lifts which are steps away from the car park.

If you’ve got little ones who can’t hit the slopes there’s the Alta Children’s Center.

Take the Sunnyside lift up the mountain and to get you started take the Crooked Mile slope, its gentle and perfect for beginners.

Intermediates will love runs that start from the top of the Sugarloaf lift.

From Sugarloaf there’s the Super Bowl and Gravy Boat for the expert skiers.

Alta Ski Area is at Alta, UT 84092.

19- Deer Valley Resort

Deer Valley Resort is ideal for a day of skiing if you are based in Salt Lake City.

It’s just a 40-minute drive from downtown Salt Lake City.

Conditions permitting the winter season is between the 2nd December and 14th April.

The park is home to some fantastic experiences.

From snowmobiling to ski school, you can even ski with one of six Olympic snow sport athletes for a half or full day memorable adventure.

There’s also lovely winter shopping and great food and wine.

Deer Valley Resort is at 2250 Deer Valley Dr S, Park City, UT 84060.

20- Sundance Mountain Resort

Sundance Mountain Resort is a small ski resort but it boasts 656 metres of vertical slopes.

The mountain resort has 41 trails and four ski lifts over more than 500 acres.

One of the reasons many people like to head to Sundance Mountain Resort over some of the other ski resorts is because of its cozy and friendly atmosphere.

It feels more like a familiar family style ski resort where you will begin to recognise the same faces if you stay for a couple of days.

Sundance Mountain Resort is 15 miles (24 km) from Provo and 50 miles (80 km) from Salt Lake City.

Sundance Mountain Resort is at 8841 Alpine Loop Scenic Byway, Sundance, UT 84604. 

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harriet comley
Harriet Comley is a travel enthusiast, freelance travel writer and a lover of safaris. Since 2017 she has been travelling the globe living in the UK, Canada, Vietnam, China and now Zambia, where she is completing her PhD in Sustainable Tourism. For 3 1/2 years she taught English in Vietnam and China. Now she has turned her attention to writing, having contributed to a number of travel blogs and websites always focusing on what she loves most…exploring!