With its five national parks, mind-boggling rock formations, and often hauntingly beautiful landscape, Utah is a wonderful place for a family vacation at any time of the year. However, it may be particularly special over the winter holidays. Winter is the tourist off-season, so parks and attractions are likely to be less crowded than they would during the summer months. Temperatures tend to be relatively mild, with lows hovering right around the freezing point and highs that can extend up into the 50s. However, snow is still commonplace and can transform the already eerie landscape into an almost supernatural winter wonderland.
For all the benefits of traveling in Utah in the winter, there are still some things you should know about before you go.
1. Plan Accommodations in Advance
Typically, St George Utah hotels stay open year round, and because winter is the off-season, you should be able to find a room. However, it never hurts to book ahead of time. You may save money this way, and you never know when there will be a convention or some other event in town that takes up all the available rooms.
Planning where to stay in advance is particularly important if you intend to camp. Some developed campgrounds are only open half of the year and close down during the colder months. This is particularly true in the higher elevations. However, it is possible to find campgrounds that are open all year round, especially in the national parks and other public lands. Bear in mind that some of the amenities that the campground offers during the summer may not be available during the winter months.
2. Prepare for Winter Driving
Though the weather tends to be mild, Utah does see its share of winter storms with snow and ice. These can make driving conditions hazardous. Whenever possible, it is best to delay road travel until conditions improve. However, if you must drive in inclement weather conditions, give yourself enough time so you can drive slowly and decrease the following distance between you and other cars. Avoid suddenly braking or quick turns.
You may see other cars on the side of the road where accidents have already occurred with law enforcement assisting. Slow down and move over to give them plenty of room. Do not cause another accident by gawking at the scene. Instead, keep your eyes on where you want to go.
3. Pack and Dress in Layers
Because the winter weather in Utah can vary widely and change quickly, it is important to pack plenty of warm clothes and dress in layers so that you are prepared for the fluctuations in temperatures. The outer layer should be waterproof yet breathable, and the base layers should wick moisture away from the skin. Otherwise, if your skin gets wet it will make you feel colder. If you intend to spend a lot of time outside, you should wear waterproof rain or snow pants and hiking boots, which can keep your feet warm and dry regardless of the terrain over which you travel. You should have a day pack of some kind that allows you to stash the gear that you need to remove during the day as the weather warms up.
4. Find Out About Closures
While there is a lot to do in Utah in the winter, some attractions close down as the weather gets colder. This is something you should research as you plan your trip prior to your departure. For example, while the national parks are open, facilities such as museums and visitor centers may close down. Some roads and conveyances may also be unavailable during the winter.
5. Prepare for Emergencies
You never know what may happen to you when you are traveling. You may fall and injure yourself while in a remote location or get stranded in your car during a winter storm. Pack a first aid kit that you carry in your car or can take with you as needed. Keep a winter survival kit in your vehicle as well with extra food, water, blankets, flashlight, batteries, etc.
With careful preparation, a winter holiday trip to Utah can become a memory that you treasure forever.