Sundance Film Festival, January
Utah Shakespeare Festival, June to October
Western Legends Roundup, August
Moab Music Festival, September
Moab Folk Festival, November
January is particularly slow and much of the tourism infrastructure surrounding the parks shuts down, but for nature lovers the peace and quiet can make for a fabulous visit.
Sundance Film Festival
It may not be in southern Utah, but this is nonetheless the state's most famous event. Aspiring filmmakers, actors and half of Hollywood gather for a week of cutting-edge film in Park City.
Winter Bird Festival
Birders gather for three days in St George for walks, lectures and children's activities at the Winter Bird Festival (www.stgeorgebirdfest.com).
Lovers of snow and winter sports should check out high-altitude destinations such as Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks and the Brian Head ski resort.
Bryce Canyon Winterfest
Cross-country ski tours, ski archery, snowshoe races and lots of other snow-based activities and clinics. Held over President's Day weekend in mid-February.
March is spring-break season in the US. Hordes of college students and families with young kids are out exploring the Southwest's national parks. This can be a surprisingly busy time; reserve accommodation and figure on unpredictable weather.
Depending on rainfall and elevation, spring (April and May) is wildflower season in the desert. Check www.desertusa.com for wildflower bloom reports at your favorite national and state parks.
The week before Easter, about 2000 Jeeps and thousands more people overrun the town in the year's biggest event. Register early; trails are assigned.
Skinny Tire Festival
Four days of great cycling trips outside Moab in early March. Ride through Arches, along the Colorado River and to Dead Horse Point and back.
The weather starts to warm up, but is still hard to gauge with wind, rain and snow alternating with wonderfully pleasant sunny days hitting temperatures in the 70s and 80s (over 21°C). Budding cottonwoods and blooming flowers brighten the landscape.
Summer gets started early in the desert, making this the beginning of the high season. Rafting and biking season swings into full gear.
Moab Arts Festival
Held on Memorial Day Weekend, the Moab Arts Festival at Swanny City Park brings together fine artists with plenty of food vendors and music acts.
School's out for the summer! High season for road-tripping families is beginning and the blistering desert heat index is gradually inching up toward seasonal highs.
Cedar City's long weekend music fest (www.facebook.com/GroovefestAmericanMusicFestival) in late June jams with folksy and funky sounds.
Utah Shakespearean Festival
The play's the thing in Cedar City, where visitors can enjoy a dramatic Shakesperience, with Tony Award–winning performances, literary seminars and educational backstage tours from late June to September.
Bryce Canyon Astronomy Festival
Some 7500 stars are visible to the naked eye at Bryce, and even more are on display during this festival when the Salt Lake Astronomical Society breaks out some huge telescopes.
Summer's in full swing with annual July 4 barbecues across the country. Despite 100+°F temperatures (over 38°C), it's one of the busiest months for most Utah parks. Beat the heat by scheduling activities for the early morning or late afternoon, or head to higher elevations.
Neil Simon Festival
American plays staged mid-July to mid-August (www.simonfest.org) in Utah's festival town, Cedar City.
Cities and towns across the region celebrate America's birth with rodeos, parades, music and fireworks on July 4.
Bryce Canyon Half Marathon
A wildly popular distance run through the park, starting at Ruby's Inn and ending in Cannonville (www.brycecanyonhalfmarathon.com).
Join Bryce Canyon park rangers for a weekend of guided hikes, family-friendly geology programs, bus tours with a geologist, evening programs and other activities.
Hotels and campgrounds are booked up and it's still off-the-thermometer hot, although afternoon thunderstorms bring some relief – as well as flash floods.
Western Legends Roundup
Kanab lives for the annual Western Legends Roundup (www.westernlegendsroundup.com) in late August. There are concerts, gunfights, cowboy poetry, dances, quilt shows, a film festival and more. Take a bus tour to all the film sites, or sign up for a Dutch-oven cooking lesson.
Garfield County Fair
This Garfield County Fair in Panguitch hosts live bands and features parades, classic car shows, barbecues, livestock sales and rodeos for an entire week.
It's back to school for the kids, which means crowds begin to lessen. Fall is a particularly nice time to visit – weather is slightly cooler though the water is still warm, making it a good time to explore river canyons.
St George's mid-September weekend full of Western fun, including a parade and rodeo (www.stgeorgelions.com).
Moab Music Festival
Each September, world-class classical, traditional and jazz musicians converge on the red-rock landscape around Moab for spectacular open-air concerts (www.moabmusicfest.org).
Zion Canyon Music Festival
One weekend in late September is filled with an eclectic lineup of bands, with everything from flatpickers to alternative rock (http://zioncanyonmusicfestival.com).
Lingering warm weather and less traffic makes this a particularly nice month to visit. Look for golden aspens at higher elevations.
St George Marathon
This highly acclaimed marathon takes over the town of St George (www.stgeorgemarathon.com), attracting 7400 runners from all 50 states and some 20,000 spectators. The route is regularly rated one of the country's most scenic.
The low season is beginning and some hotels and restaurants have shuttered up for the winter. The long Thanksgiving weekend sees a final burst of visitors to the region's parks.
Moab Folk Festival
Folk music and environmental consciousness combine. This November festival is 100% wind-powered, venues are easily walkable and recycling is encouraged (www.moabfolkfestival.com). Big-name singer-songwriters take top billing.
December has cool weather and some snow, but you can still go mountain biking and hiking at lower elevations if there's no big storms.