Whether this is the only time you can get off work, you’re looking to beat the crowds of summer, or you’re planning a holiday vacation, winter is a great time to visit Capitol Reef National Park and the rest of Southern Utah.
While colder temperatures and a bit of snow might mean that you’ll need to make a few changes to your usual routine (like leaving your shorts at home!), you can still enjoy many of the same activities as you can any other time of year. Plus, there are a few fun things you can do that are only available during the winter months.
Keep reading to learn 6 things to do in Capitol Reef National Park this winter.
1. Cross-Country Skiing
Some people might see snow covering the trails in the higher elevations of Capitol Reef National Park as a roadblock to a good hike. But if you’ve ever gone cross country skiing, you’ll likely see those packed snowdrifts as a welcome invitation.
Cross-country skiing is a great way to see the stunning landscapes of Capitol Reef up-close and personal in a unique way. Because the park gets its vast majority of visitors during the summer months, you’ll have plenty of space to explore. Not to mention the chance to experience the park in a way that few people ever do.
If you don’t have your own skis or don’t want to deal with the headache of trying to fly with them, you can always rent gear from one of the many local outfitters.
If you’re eager to explore your favorite trails at a bit slower pace but don’t want to hike through heavy snow, snowshoeing is a great alternative. Strap on a pair of snowshoes, and you can instantly enjoy your favorite trails and backwoods areas, even while they’re covered in a thick layer of snow. Your boots will stay dry, which means you’ll stay comfortable.
If you don’t already have a pair, you can find affordable snowshoes on the web. You might also find them for rent at some local outfitters.
3. Winter Hiking
It’s a misconception that snow in Southern Utah means snow in all of Southern Utah. While the higher elevations might get several inches during the winter months, the lower elevations rarely do. And if they do get snow, it’s often not more than a dusting, and definitely not enough to keep you inside. Unlike Zion National Park, Capitol Reef is already at lower elevations. Which means that it also sees less snow. The average snowfall in December in Capitol Reef is just 2.5 inches. In January, that number increases to 3.8 inches on average, which still isn’t enough to keep you off the trails.
If you want to enjoy some hiking during your winter visit to the region, simply seek out trails in lower elevations. Waterproof hiking boots and a pair of non-cotton socks, made from synthetic or wool fabric, will help keep your feet dry and warm. If you are going to be doing a long hike or one in the snow, make sure that you know these winter hiking safety tips before you hit the trail.
4. Mountain Biking
Just as you can still enjoy your favorite hike during the winter months, you can also still hit the trails on your bike. Mountain biking is a year-round sport in the Capitol Reef area. While you’ll want to dress warmer than you would for a summertime ride, as long as you stick to lower areas that are free from ice, you can spend a day or two biking your way across the red rocks and canyons.
5. Cozy Up By the Fire
While you can spend time outdoors during the winter months, there’s nothing better than coming in from a day in the snow and cold and cozying up by the fire. Whether you’re lounging in front of the big fireplace in The Grand Lodge or a wood stove in your private Casita, add a cup of hot cocoa and you have an instant memory of your trip that you’ll never forget.
6. Warm-Up in the Sauna
The fireplace is a great place to warm up and swap stories with family and friends. But for those days when you just can’t shake the cold, the sauna at The Grand Lodge never hurts. Relax and unwind in the luxurious hot sauna, and you’ll quickly forget that you’re visiting Capitol Reef in the middle of winter.
Planning Your Winter Adventure
Whether you’re looking to hit the trails on two feet or two wheels or prefer cozying up by the fire or relaxing in the sauna, you’ll find no shortage of things to do at Cougar Ridge all winter long.
Want to stay warm and comfortable when you venture outside during your visit? Check out this guide to learn how to dress for the winter weather.