With its red rock canyons and desert landscapes, Utah is best known for being a paradise for rock climbers and hikers in the shoulder seasons, but come the winter months it’s also home to 15 ski resorts scattered around the state. That means most years from December to April, you can enjoy snowshoeing in Utah and it doesn’t all have to be on the resorts either. Utah’s many beautiful canyons make breathtaking snowshoeing areas once they’re snow covered.
Utah is home to diverse climates and ecosystems as showcased in its amazing National Parks like Zion and Arches, however as the second driest state in the country (after Nevada) it is largely a desert state. In the summer months, Utah’s ferocious heat makes it a good place to avoid, but come winter, the climate translates into extremely light, powdery snow that is supremely fun to adventure in. Furthermore, the high areas in Utah get about a foot of powder every five days in the winter, meaning it’s almost always a good day for snowshoeing in Utah.
Our guide to snowshoeing in Utah covers some of the most popular backcountry areas plus one of it’s famous National Parks and gives an overview of the Nordic Centers in the state. Snowshoeing in Utah promises rugged adventure paired with exceptional desert scenery and all you need are a pair of snowshoes, hiking poles and a sense of adventure to have an unforgettable time here in winter.
If you’re driving east after your trip to Utah, you’ll also want to check out our article on snowshoeing in Colorado.
Backcountry snowshoeing in Utah
As you’ll find, it’s Utah’s incredible high elevation canyons rather than mountains that make for divine snowshoeing in winter. The landscape makes for exhilarating winter hiking, however the steeper canyons are prone to avalanches so please read our article on avalanche safety before you set off.
American Fork Canyon
North of Provo, American Fork Canyon’s walls reach dizzying heights and is famous for being home to the Timpanogos Cave National Monument. Its steep walls make it avalanche prone terrain so check the avalanche report before you set off. The canyon features many snowshoeing trails and one of the best is Silver Lake Flat which begins from the Tibble Fork Reservoir Parking Area and delivers non-stop views of the surrounding peaks on the way to the reservoir, 2.4 miles in.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon is home to the world’s largest collection of hoodoos – tall, thin red rock spires. At 8,000ft above sea level, it also receives plenty of snowfall in winter and its Rim Trail turns into an excellent snowshoe adventure where you can walk through the forest to the canyon rim overlooking snow-capped hoodoos and spires.
Cedar Breaks National Monument
Located east of Cedar City and north of Zion, Cedar Breaks National Monument is a geologic amphitheater that is almost half a mile deep and stretches for three miles. The rim of the amphitheater is over 10,000 feet above sea level delivering spectacular views. In the winter months, the road is groomed for snowshoeing and cross country skiing, however, all the trails are also open for you to explore.
Little Cottonwood Canyon
Only 15 miles from Salt Lake City, Little Cottonwood Canyon’s steep granite walls were carved by glaciers and make for rigorous snowshoeing in avalanche prone terrain. When avalanche risk is low, however, it’s worth exploring the trail leading from the White Pine Lake trailhead, which offers beautiful scenery on your way up the steep, narrow canyon. The lake itself is five miles in and may warrant an overnight winter camp, but worth the effort if you can make it.
Mill Creek Canyon
East of Salt Lake City, Mill Creek Canyon lies in the Wasatch Mountains. It is maintained by the Forest Service and features both groomed and ungroomed trails in the winter months. There are lots of great snowshoe adventures to choose from here, from the Pipeline Trail which begins with stunning waterfalls and ends with views of the canyon to the Desolation Trail which takes you on a forest stroll to views of Salt Lake.
In northern Utah, Ogden Canyon is home to ski resorts, mountain biking trails and a reservoir open to recreation as well as lots of snowshoeing trails. For a pleasant hike next to a frozen stream, start at the Wheeler Creek trailhead and take the old service road to Art Nort trailhead 1.8 miles away. You can run a shuttle to return to your car or return on foot the way you came
Provo Canyon is low in elevation and doesn’t often have enough precipitation for snowshoeing, however it is home to Mount Timpanogos, the second highest peak in the Wasatch range where you can snowshoe on the Aspen Grove to Alpine Loop Summit trail. This hike takes you to an area that is a scenic drive in the summer and popular for its spectacular views of the majestic surrounding peaks. Check the avalanche report before you go.
Needless to say, there are countless beautiful snowshoe trails near Park City and Round Valley is one of our favorites. Round Valley boasts 780 acres of peaceful open space where you can make up your own adventure and enjoy meditative snowshoe hikes over rolling terrain with expansive views over the surrounding area.
Nordic Center snowshoeing in Utah
Utah is home to several great Nordic Centers where you can rent equipment, hire a guide and access maintained trails for a fee. These options are great for access, beginner snowshoers and those who love to end the day with a hot drink at the yurt.
- Alta Ski Area: the purist’s ski resort has a 5 km groomed track that winds up the summer road.
- Ogden Nordic Center: enjoy 10 miles for groomed trails for snowshoeing and winter yurts for fun.
- Solitude Nordic Center: Explore twenty kilometers of pristine trails through some of Utah’s most stunning terrain.
- Soldier Hollow Nordic Center: This Olympic training center rests in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains.
- Sundance Nordic Center: Snowshoers can explore 10 kilometers of dedicated trails winding through the woods providing excellent views of Mount Timpanogos and Stewart Falls.
- Wasatch Mountain State Park: Enjoy the 31-kilometer trail system for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
- White Pine Nordic Center: Conveniently located in the heart of Park City with over 20 kilometers of classic and skate ski track that is groomed daily.
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Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.