My husband and I are planning a trip to Zion National Park in late feb/early March. Anyone been that time of year? Looking for any tips on trails to hike (I’m a beginner), places to stay and eat, other parks nearby we should consider visiting, what we should expect for weather, etc. Anything else that is a must do/must see in the area? All advice and tips welcome! TIA! Emily
I have been to Zion several times, but not recently, and not during late Feb/early March. The weather then is likely to be adverse and relatively challenging. I would recommend you check the Zion National Park website: https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/weather-and-climate.htm, especially this section on climate. Lots of other good stuff there, as well.
Zion is quite popular (over 4 mil visitors a year!), but fewer during the off season time you are contemplating. Hiking opportunities will vry with weather conditions. You should be able to get good info at the Visitor Center.
I've been there once at that time of year many years ago, and southern Utah quite a few more times in late winter/early spring.
I don't remember individual Zion hike details, but many of them are paved. Paved or not, there will often be also be long ascents, switchbacks and large dropoffs with no rails. Weather-wise, it's the desert, so there will be a large variation in daytime/nighttime temperatures, and I remember ice on some of the trails -- not blocking any path completely, but you might need to pass close to the edge to circumvent the slippery sections. A few sections will have chains for your hands.
My favourite hike there is Angel's Landing. It's definitely not a beginner hike, but the park won't be as crowded when you're going, so it's something you might consider if you're reasonably fit and not scared of heights. The hike up to it is quite enjoyable too, so you can always take a look at it and decide.
In the area, temperatures and conditions will depend a lot on altitude. Bryce is close by, for instance, but significantly higher. One end of February, I found the hiking excellent and enjoyed the snow on the hoodoos. I had been planning to camp as well, when the park ranger at the gate told me the forecast was in the -20s for that night. I got a motel in Kanab instead.
@emwhitmore thanks for posting this question to our community! For the next week, we'll keep your post in the "Featured" section in the hopes that you'll get a bunch more ideas and suggestions! As you plan your trip, you might check out the REI Adventures trips at Zion - even if you don't travel with us, you might find some inspiration in our itineraries and you could reference the gear checklists to make sure you've got what you need!