The Off-Season Splendor of Southern Utah


The Off-Season Splendor of Southern Utah
by Martha Jevsevar, Director of Outdoor Recreation

Let’s face it – the secret is out. Southern Utah is beautiful, easily accessible from several major cities, and a favorite summer travel destination for millions. Zion National Park is the marquee attraction, and for good reason. Its spectacular scenery is unparalleled, with a wide variety of hiking trails that allow guests to enjoy all the majesty regardless of age, ability, or fitness level. 

In the fall and winter, Zion’s grandeur can be enjoyed without the long lines, relentless summer heat, and short-tempered displays of frustrated travelers. Although the park is open year-round, nearly 87% of visitors come during the peak season (March through October). This means that November, December, January, and February are the quietest months in Zion. The canyon can breathe, recover, and renew – and so can you!

Autumn’s unique charm reminds us that our bodies, minds, and surroundings are always developing. It encourages us to focus on the impermanence of life, reminding us how vital it is to embrace the present. By doing so, we can enjoy what we have before it is gone. Zion is my special go-to place where clarity, empowerment, and gratitude wash over me.

Nature is best experienced slowly, and no other season prompts you to pause and look around quite like fall. When you’re hiking, it is easy to focus too much on the destination; or your phone reminds you about the calories you’re burning, or you nervously watch the ground go by in an effort to prevent a fall.

With the change of season comes crisp mornings, gorgeous foliage, shorter days, and the tranquility enjoyed when Mother Nature is able to show her true glory after the summer crowds have returned to work and school. Golden trees, burnt red cliff faces, and azure blue skies call your attention away from the ground and towards the sky. Hiking in fall conditions is bound to leave you feeling lighter (literally and figuratively) and inspired!

As the days get shorter and the nights cooler, frost begins to spread across the canyon walls. Where there was once flowing water, ice falls form. These formations are beautiful and provide an entirely new panorama.

One of the best experiences possible is to be a hiker in Zion Canyon on a snowy morning. The majestic red cliffs with the contrasting white snow make for an unforgettable visual treat. The vistas of this glorious winter wonderland create memories that will last a lifetime. 

All in all, fall and winter are my favorite seasons in southern Utah. Autumn is a time for letting go and releasing burdens. Winter is a time for sleep, transformation, and new beginnings. The change of seasons reminds us that nature's cycles are mirrored in our lives. This time of year has a way of allowing us to clear our minds and prepare for what lies ahead.

About Martha Jevsevar

Martha Jevsevar joined the Red Mountain team in August 2014 as an adventure guide before assuming the role of Director of Outdoor Recreation. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, her passion for travel and the outdoors developed during backpacking trips through the Tetons and Allegheny Mountains, and she quickly fell in love with southern Utah’s dramatic landscapes. Her professional experience includes business management, accounting, and serving on community advisory boards.

Photos by Dave Whitaker