Best time to visit Utah National Parks?

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bbishop3

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We are planning a trip to Utah in 2023, probably spring/summer. Coming across I-70 through Missouri and Kansas to Colorado, hope to stay in Dead Horse Point near Moab as our base for most of the national parks, then head down to Zion and Grand Canyon before heading back to TN. We would appreciate any tips, cautions, advice. Also, is there a lottery to get into the parks? Is this realistic if I start making reservations now for 2023.
 

jackiemac

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There are some parks which need reservations depending on timing of your visit. Arches for example.

Some of the more popular hikes also require reservations e.g. Angel's landing in Zion.

Summer can be unbearably hot so I'd consider May and June.

Check each park's website for details.
 

DonTom

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Summer can be unbearably hot so I'd consider May and June.
Probably not if you take a hike to the very top of Horse Ranch Mountain. Almost 9,000 feet elevation. I used to backpack often in the Zion high country and always went in mid-August.

But yeah, the canyon will be hot. But you may take a swim in the Virgin River. Some places are nice for swimming in La Verkin Creek also.

-Don- Auburn, CA
 

JudyJB

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You might want to use this site to estimate temperatures in various places at a particular time of year. It can be confusing because temperatures are affected by elevation as well as how far south they are.

Also, most federal campgrounds allow you to make reservations only 6 months in advance. Climate Utah - Temperature, Rainfall and Averages

Utah State Parks open reservations for open spots at 8 am mountain time four months in advance. Just check the night before for available spots and be online by 8 am the next morning. Here is a site that summarizes reservations for each state: The 2022 Guide to State Park Camping Reservations in All 50 States.

Also, no swimming in the Virgin River in Zion because it has been contaminated by deadly cyanobacteria: Toxic Cyanobacteria Bloom in the Virgin River and the Streams of Zion National Park - Zion National Park (U.S. National Park Service).
 

DonTom

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been contaminated by deadly cyanobacteria
What a bummer! Do they know the cause? Where it came from?

I know it often comes from fertilizer run-off, not an issue I would expect there in Zion.

I also realize it occurs naturally, but then usually not enough to cause problems.

Do you know if the cows are still in Hop Valley? There were many the last time I was there, but that was many years ago.

-Don- Auburn, CA
 

xrated

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We arrived in the Grand Canyon area on Sept. 12th last year and the daytime temps were in the mid-90s. Then after three days, we went to Zion....temps the same...mid-90s. Next up was Bryce Canyon...daytime temps were mid 70s and the last two nights there was low 30s and upper 20s. Headed over to Moab for 5 days. Daytime temps again in the 90s. I'm not sure if this was normal temps for that time of year, because it was our first trip to that area ever. Personally, I can take the heat better than I can the cold, but I will say that it was very warm...except for Bryce, but it is in the 8000 to 9000 ft elevation range.
 

bbishop3

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You might want to use this site to estimate temperatures in various places at a particular time of year. It can be confusing because temperatures are affected by elevation as well as how far south they are.

Also, most federal campgrounds allow you to make reservations only 6 months in advance. Climate Utah - Temperature, Rainfall and Averages

Utah State Parks open reservations for open spots at 8 am mountain time four months in advance. Just check the night before for available spots and be online by 8 am the next morning. Here is a site that summarizes reservations for each state: The 2022 Guide to State Park Camping Reservations in All 50 States.

Also, no swimming in the Virgin River in Zion because it has been contaminated by deadly cyanobacteria: Toxic Cyanobacteria Bloom in the Virgin River and the Streams of Zion National Park - Zion National Park (U.S. National Park Service).
very helpful information! Thanks so much JudyJB
 

JudyJB

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What a bummer! Do they know the cause? Where it came from?

I know it often comes from fertilizer run-off, not an issue I would expect there in Zion.

I also realize it occurs naturally, but then usually not enough to cause problems.

Do you know if the cows are still in Hop Valley? There were many the last time I was there, but that was many years ago.

-Don- Auburn, CA
Yes, a BIG bummer. It is due to fertilizer runoff way upstream, although less water flow because of the drought no doubt does not help. A big problem is that it is poisoning all the wildlife that drink from the river. They are also warning you to NOT let your pet drink from the river, or even walk into it. If they do jump in, you are supposed to bathe them immediately. It has been well over a year that I was there, but the combination of bad water and the drought has made the deer walking skeletons!

Don't know about the cows. I assume they are upstream? If so, they are no doubt part of the cause.

They are still letting you wade in the water in places, but don't recommend it and no swimming whatsoever!!! I did notice that some of the stores in Springdale are renting "dry bibs" and even "dry suits" for hiking the narrows.
 
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Utclmjmpr

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Right now.!! The temps are in the low to mid 70s daily and low to mid 40s at night here in Cedar City at 6K feet.. This is also the time of year that an emphasis is placed on the fire dangers all over the state,, the draught doesn't help.. >>>Dan
 

DonTom

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Yes, a BIG bummer. It is due to fertilizer runoff way upstream, although less water flow because of the drought no doubt does not help. A big problem is that it is poisoning all the wildlife that drink from the river. They are also warning you to NOT let your pet drink from the river, or even walk into it. If they do jump in, you are supposed to bathe them immediately. It has been well over a year that I was there, but the combination of bad water and the drought has made the deer walking skeletons!

Don't know about the cows. I assume they are upstream? If so, they are no doubt part of the cause.

They are still letting you wade in the water in places, but don't recommend it and no swimming whatsoever!!! I did notice that some of the stores in Springdale are renting "dry bibs" and even "dry suits" for hiking the narrows.
I recall one year in the Zion high country, it was difficult to find a flat area to set up my backpacking tent for the most unusual reason--fawn and small deer carcasses every decent place I could find. But they were all from cougar kills. I have noticed that seeing deer in the high country was rare. I only recall seeing one live one up there ever. A large one. That was in Telephone Canyon. I had the feeling there were way too many cougars in that area and not enough deer. Well opposite of most places. The only fawns I have seen up there were the dead mostly eaten ones.

Hop Valley is also inside of Zion Park. But it's a hike to get there. best to ignore the sign that says "Hop Valley, Two miles" because they are using map miles, not true miles. That two miles will take most of the day as the trail goes around and over several hills, nothing near a straight line as if on a topo map. IMO, trail signs should be in average time, not miles. Miles is often misleading as it is often done differently at different places. But when way out in the boonies, it is expected the the hikers know what they are doing and know how to read a topo map.

Every time I have been in Hop Valley, I saw MANY cows grazing. I thought that was unusual for a National Park.

-Don- Auburn, CA
 
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Utclmjmpr

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In many areas cattle & sheep are allowed to graze to help keep the fire danger down.. In other areas ( Escalante National park ) feral cattle are shot by helicopter and picked up by ground crews to keep the herd under control. The carcuses are given to the tribal people in the area.>>>Dan
 

Patnsuzanne

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We were in Moab the last week in April back in ‘19 and landed right between “Jeep Week” and an all-weekend car show. Campgrounds were jammed and it was next to impossible to get around town. You should be able to get approximate dates for those happenings next year off the internet to plan accordingly.
 
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