Because of the convenience summer brings for families, many never consider visiting the desert during the winter. But as locals know, this is one of the most magical seasons to experience this landscape. The best part is that by staying in St. George, you won’t have to compromise between seeing the grandeur of red rock and experiencing traditional winter adventures.
If you’re wondering what there is to do while visiting St. George in the winter, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of 10 activities that’ll keep you busy exploring the area.
Bet you weren’t expecting to see this itinerary suggestion while doing your desert vacation preparation! Even though St. George may have a desert climate, you’re only an hour and a half away from a fantastic ski resort. Purchase either day skiing or night skiing tickets from Brian Head Resort and make some unforgettable winter memories in southern Utah.
While we’re on the topic of snow, consider going snowshoeing. Deer Hollow is about an hour and 15 minutes from St. George, and Pine Valley is less than an hour away. Both of these areas also allow for cross-country skiing!
If you want your trip to be a bit more focused on desert landscapes, head towards Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. About an hour and 15 minutes from St. George, this park has sandboard and sand sled rentals for just $25 apiece.
4. Take a Scenic Drive
From March to November, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to private vehicles while a shuttle system is used in the park. This season, the shuttle will also be running from December 24th through January 2nd, and tickets must be reserved online. When the shuttle isn’t running in the winter, however, you have the perfect opportunity to savor this incredible road while going at whatever pace you’d like. Be sure to go early in the day as parking along the road can fill up quickly!
5. Explore Slot Canyons
From late summer through early fall, there is a little thing called monsoon season in southern Utah. During this time, it rains more than normal which means venturing into slot canyons can be extremely dangerous. This activity is inherently a bit safer in the wintertime. Look into Kanarraville Falls for a water-wading hike and Yankee Doodle Hollow for a canyoneering adventure.
Remember, every safety precaution should be taken no matter the season as flash flooding is always a possibility. Check the weather before entering a canyon and do not go inside if there is any chance of rain nearby (or upstream).
The combination of being surrounded by red rock and the (comparably) warmer weather makes the St. George area a fantastic golfing destination during the winter months. Two excellent courses to take a look at include The Ledges Golf Course in St. George and The Championship Course at the Sand Hollow Golf Resort in the nearby city of Hurricane.
7. Find Dinosaur Tracks
Wander the desert landscape to discover fossilized dinosaur tracks. In particular, two trails in Hurricane will take you back in time to when the dinosaurs roamed. The Dino Cliffs Dinosaur Tracks and the Warner Valley Dinosaur Tracks can both be accessed via trails that are under one mile in length.
8. Practice Landscape Photography
In the summer, it can be difficult to get good photos because the beating sun makes patience seem impossible rather than just a virtue. Take advantage of the cooler temperatures by getting out there to practice your landscape photography skills.
Winter is also a great time to practice photography because of the shorter days. As every photographer knows, the few hours surrounding sunrise and sunset are some of the best to shoot within. This timeline can often be difficult for getting a good night’s sleep as it means you have to be out late and up early. This isn’t a problem in the winter in southern Utah, however!
If you’re willing to invest a little more money into improving your camera skills, look into a photography course. Paragon Adventures offers one that’s great if you’d like to explore Snow Canyon State Park and the St. George area. If you’re wanting to travel a little farther for a photography adventure, check out tours in Zion National Park held by Enlighten Photography Excursions.
9. Discover Phenomenal Christmas Lights
Because it gets dark so early in the winter, you may find yourself racking your brain for things to do in the evenings in St. George. One great option in December is to grab a cup of hot chocolate from a local shop and hit the town to find the best Christmas lights.
Don’t just drive around aimlessly though! Use this 2020 St. George Christmas Light Map to find over 20 stunning displays. Some are even timed to match Christmas music. If you’re willing to drive about 30 minutes to the city of La Verkin, you can also attempt to track down a property that aired on ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight” this year.
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning hiking. With fewer people on the trails than the tourist-filled summer months, winter is the ideal time to get out and experience the desert environment you’ve been dreaming about.
Beautiful hikes can be found all around St. George, and we’ve gathered a few of our favorites here. If you end up going hiking in higher-elevation areas where ice is a possibility, bring microspikes.
If you didn’t initially think of the desert as being the best place for a winter vacation, we hope we just proved you dead wrong. St. George is the perfect destination for this type of trip as it gives you access to a wide variety of both snow and desert-oriented winter activities! As a reminder, these 10 adventures included the following:
- Take a scenic drive
- Explore slot canyons
- Find dinosaur tracks
- Practice landscape photography
- Discover phenomenal Christmas lights
If you’re convinced and are now curious as to where you should make your home base while visiting St. George, take a look at our Vacation Rental Search Tool.