With five national parks, more than two dozen national landmarks, and award-winning skiing, Utah is one of the most beloved adventure states in America. With four distinct seasons, however, your mileage will vary depending on the timing of your visit. Whether hiking, off-roading, or playing in its snow or desert waters, we can help you choose the best time for your visit.

High season, June to August, is the best time for water sports and alpine hiking

Thanks to summer vacation and so much to see, Utah crowds are at their highest in summer, where the days are hot but the nights are cool. In July and August, national parks are inundated with both international and local visitors on holiday. In addition to Lake Powell, one of America’s most fun-loving lakes, Utah is home to many other recreational reservoirs such as Flaming Gorge that are ideal for both boating and fishing. What’s more, it’s home to the High Uinta Wilderness, one of the state’s best-kept secrets and great way to beat the summer heat. This is truly the best time to enjoy two of Utah’s greatest, water-filled hikes: The Narrows at Zion National Park and Lower Calf Creek Falls at Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument. To avoid hot, crowded trails and get better pictures, time your national park visits in the mornings and evenings.

A hiker in a deep canyon with water running through it
Desert hiking is best done in the spring months to avoid the worst of the heat © Galyna Andrushko / Shutterstock

Shoulder season in March to May is perfect for hiking

Although it’s not as toasty as other deserts, Utah’s climate can get dangerously hot in the dead of summer, especially in the southern half of the state. Because of this, a lot of hikers and outdoor enthusiasts head for Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion in the shoulder season. If you're looking to hike the best of the best, spring is the time to go, so don't be surprised to see crowds of other well-informed visitors. Waterfalls are better at this time, and the costs of hotels and rental cars are more affordable when compared to summer.

Low season in September to November is best for budget travelers

All things considered, this is the best time to visit Utah – when prices, crowds, and extreme weather are all at their lowest. You won’t get the beautiful runoff as in spring, and temperatures will likely be too cold to enjoy the water. But if you want to see the most the state has to offer and can only visit during one season, make it this one. As a bonus, hotel rates are up to 40% off peak season prices, you’ll see some beautiful fall foliage in the higher elevations as trees start to hunker down for winter, and you’ll likely be hiking in pants and short-sleeves during the middle of the (although you’ll need a jacket at night).

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Man in air on skis in a snowy landscape
The winter months of December through February mark high season in Utah's ski areas © Erik Isakson / Getty Images

In Northern Utah, ski season runs December through February

Northern Utah gets an average of over 500 inches of the driest, fluffiest snow every year. Which is why the US Ski Team trains here, and why there are over a dozen top-ranked resorts (including Park City, the largest in North America) that welcome people from all over the world. Although both prices and crowds for snow sports are at their highest in winter, they’re also undeniably worth it. Whereas other states require a half-day drive to more costly resorts – with sometimes inferior snow – over half a dozen resorts can be reached from Salt Lake City airport in under an hour. For better powder, wait until Christmas break or beyond.

January is all about the snow

In January, winter is in full swing, which means it's all about quality snowfall, skiing, and snowboarding. Sundance Film Festival, held in Park City, is a chance to see tomorrow’s best indie movies before they hit theaters. 
Key event: Sundance Film Festival.

February is a cheaper time to ski

February is probably the best (and most affordable) time to ski when the mountains get pounded with powder. 
Key event: Ice Castles in Midway.

March marks the start of hiking season in Southern Utah

Snow usually begins to melt in the valleys. Hiking begins in earnest in Southern Utah, although it’s usually a little too soggy to enjoy in Northern Utah.
Key event: Skinny Tire Festival.

Enjoy Utah's blooms in April

April is the wettest period in Utah, when grasses and flowers are at their peak. It's the perfect time for a spot of stargazing.
Key event: Moab Jeep Safari.

Hiking conditions are excellent in May  

May is a great time to hike statewide and enjoy waterfalls before the summer heat takes over.
Key events: Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point, Great Salt Lake Birding Festival.

A female hiker sits, looking out over a deep canyon
By June, summer starts heating up in Utah © blazg / Shutterstock

June is hot, but not yet unbearable

June is about the only decent month of summer before the heat and crowds take over.
Key events: Fruit Harvest begins at Capitol Reef National Park (through September), Utah Arts Festival, Utah Pride.

Stay cool out on the water in July

It's hot during the day in July, and the conditions for boating and canyoneering are ideal. The weather is bearable in the mornings and evenings, so time your exertions carefully.
Key events: Freedom Festival, Pioneer Day Parade.

Witness new land speed records in August

August is hot but never humid. Watch speed demons set land speed records on the otherworldly landscape of Bonneville Salt Flats.
Key event: Bonneville Speed Week.

A high-angle view of a canyon
Utah's fall colors are incredibly beautiful © Nickolay Stanev / Shutterstock

It's starting to cool down in September

The weather starts to cool down in September, but it’s still nice. Take a drive along the Mirror Lake Scenic Highway and enjoy its many viewpoints. This is the time to buy the best peaches in the nation at any of the roadside fruit stands. 
Key events: Utah State Fair.

Utah's fall colors are stunning in October 

Temperatures are cooler in October and there are fewer crowds. Enjoy the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway, be dazzled by fall colors (they peak in Zion's higher elevations in early to mid-October), and watch out for an ungodly amount of trick-or-treaters during Halloween.
Key events: Halloween, tours reopen at Timpanogos Cave National Monument.

Southern Utah still has pleasant temperatures in November

November arguably has the lightest crowds of the year and is the last chance for pleasant day temperatures in Southern Utah.
Key events: Thanksgiving, Dickens' Festival.

Here and now: Moab, Utah

December brings chills and many twinkling Christmas lights 

Baby it’s cold outside! Enjoy millions of Christmas lights and The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square in one of the most religious states in the country.
Key events: Christmas celebrations.

You might also like:
Introducing Utah's national parks
11 free and fun things to do in Utah 
Take a dip in the high desert at Utah’s best swimming holes

This article was first published June 2021 and updated March 2022

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