Utah has four seasons that vary in degree from north to south and mountain to desert. Generally, summer has hot days and cool nights, and winter in the north can be quite cold and snowy.Salt Lake City summers go into the 80s (F) and sometimes 90s, cooling to the 40s and 50s at night. Winter starts in November and by December there is deep snow. Snow frequently accumulates to depths of 10 feet or more at Wasatch Mountain ski resorts, and remains in mountain passes until July.Southwestern Utah has mild winters and scorching hot summers—St. George is usually the first city to go over 100 degrees.
When to fly to Utah
Summer and winter are the busiest times and when most people book flights to Utah. Despite the summer heat, southwestern Utah and the national parks are busiest June to September. The ski season runs from December to early April, and the busiest times are the Christmas and winter holiday weeks. Travellers heading to Utah for ski season should book Utah flights and ski resort reservations months in advance. Park City also hosts the Sundance Film Festival in January so flights to Utah and hotel prices are usually higher.
Spring and fall are great times to visit. The rates for hotels drop and you can usually find cheap flights to Utah. The southwest has wildflowers in bloom in spring but lots of mosquitoes.
Fall has the changing foliage and hunting season.
Getting around Utah
Trains and buses serve Salt Lake City and the surrounding ski areas. For further travel in Utah, you need a car. Before deciding on a vehicle, consider where and when you will be driving. There are steep grades in the mountains, and, depending on the season, you may need tires designed for mud or winter driving conditions.
Downtown Salt Lake City can be easily explored on foot or using the public transportation system’s buses, TRAX light-rail, and paratransit services. If you are renting a car, make sure to check out the Downtown Token for parking discounts.
Outdoor enthusiasts find hiking, mountain biking, and river rafting the preferred modes of transport. For the less enthusiastic, several parks have bus tours.
Bryce Canyon has a well-maintained road that runs the length of the scenic area with no restrictions on automobile traffic. Free shuttle buses operate in summer providing tours of the northern area of the park.
Zion National Park does not allow private vehicles on the main road April through October, but does provide shuttle service from the parking lot to the canyon during peak hours. There are also shuttles from neighbouring towns to the park.
Utah insider information
- Canyonlands, Utah’s largest national park, is split into three regions. The Island in the Sky section of the park sits on top of a 450-metre mesa. Paved roads lead to some of the most majestic views in the park. The Needles is an area of sandstone spires that rise up from the ground. The Maze is the wildest district in the park and is considered to be one of the most remote areas in the U.S.
- The Sundance Film Festival is world famous. This independent film festival - founded by Robert Redford - is held annually at the Sundance Ski Resort. The area is packed with Hollywood A-listers and tourists, so plan ahead! Book flights to Utah and hotel rooms at least six months in advance.
- The Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City tells the story of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from its New York origins and its settlement in Utah to today – a church with more than 10 million members.
- The Great Salt Lake is “the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere”. Several rivers and streams flow into the lake, but it has no outlet and the water is salty, much more so than the ocean. Tourists take to the waters for its buoyancy and sailing and kayaking are also very popular pursuits.
- Antelope Island is one of the largest islands in the Great Salt Lake. A 12-km causeway attaches it to the “mainland”. A state park - Antelope Island State Park – is popular with tourists for its beaches, bathing, camping, biking and hiking trails. It also has a large bison population and the bison round-up at the end of October is a great autumn event.
- Skiers and snowboarders are not without options in Utah. Resorts include Alta, Beaver Mountain, Brian Head, Brighton, The Canyons, Deer Valley, Park City Resort, Powder Mountain, Snowbasin, Snowbird, Solitude, Sundance and Wolf Mountain.
- For more happenings in Utah, visit www.visitutah.com.