Winter outside Zion is as varied as the terrain. Much of the desert areas are clear or get scattered snow, but are excellent to hike when the sun isn’t beating down. Remember to pack water, since the air is just as arid, even when temperatures are lower, and forgetting to stay hydrated is easier. The Chinle Trail, just outside park boundaries, follows a dry wash. When the trail splits continue on the road about three miles to hike into pinion forests and a scattering of petrified wood. Continue on to between Scoggins Wash (may have running water) and Coal Pits Wash to Old Scoggins Stock Trail to Coalpits Spring’s winter waterfall.
Further afield, Bryce and the Grand Canyon offer great cross country skiing through areas that are even more picturesque when snow capped. It isn’t unusual to see deer track or the deer themselves and well as other wild creatures like rabbits, chipmunks and wintering birds.
Utah is also noted for its significant mountain ranges. The La Sal Mountains, near Moab, are criss-crossed with trails that are suitable for cross country skiing during its elongated snow season, often from early fall to late spring.
When you drive out of Salt Lake City, the nearby Wasatch Range has endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, hiking, and, when it is the season for snow, both downhill and cross-country skiing. The area contains seven large ski resorts, Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, Brighton, Park City, Deer Valley, and the Canyons. The mountains around Park City have some of the deepest snow and best powder in the world.
Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics (By the way, you can thank the Olympics for the city’s improved public transportation. Public support rallied for better public transport after the town was designated as the Olympics site and the Utah Transit Authority was finally able to complete a 15-mile light-rail transit line called the TRAX, among other improvements).
There are fabulous alpine ski resorts across the southwest including Snowmass, Steamboat, Vail, Breckenridge and Aspen in Colorado; Mammoth and Heavenly in California; Brian Headin Southern Utah; Montana offers fabulous alpine skiing at Big Sky and probably the most scenic cross country skiing in the world in Yellowstone. Idaho includes resorts including Sun Valley, Soldier and Tamarack.
You’ll find the Rockies and Sierra Mountains some of the best skiing you’ve ever experienced.
Throw in some ice fishing, and you may never come to Zion in summer again. Check out Panguitch Lake, Lost Creek Reservoir, Otter Creek, Current Creek Reservoir, Minersville Reservoir, but Fish Lake may offer the best ice fishing in the state. Navajo Lake is often inaccessible during ice fishing season, but the fishing is sometimes great for those who can get there.