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A group of four family and friends including two senior adults is contemplating about camping at Zion National Park in mid-December.

I wonder:

  • How cold (in terms of real feel -- sometimes past average temperature range is not sufficient as a reference for this sort of planning) it would be? Is camping really a good idea for that time?
  • What additional items should I prepare or be prepared for compared to times at milder temperature?

I do a dozen camping trips during later spring through early fall in midwest most years and are familiar with that type of camping.

  • 1
    I think it depends on what type of camping you're experienced with. If you're used to winter camping, go for it. For others like me, from Texas where it hardly drops below freezing, I'd personally skip it. Senior adults get colder much easier, so this may add more difficulties. – Chris Mendez Dec 10 '15 at 0:33
  • 13 hours is not that bad, and Utah is pretty far south. Think about the people in northern countries, like scotland, or denmark! (not to mention iceland). – njzk2 Dec 10 '15 at 4:39
  • you need to prepare yourself for the given temperature range (i have no idea what that might be). make sure your sleeping bag is rated below that, if you encounter snow storms, make sure you have a tent that resists that and won't let snow drift in. and if you never camped in the conditions you will encounter, start with something easy, with a backup plan to test your gear and see if you enjoy/can stand it. – njzk2 Dec 10 '15 at 4:41
  • Camping with what kind of equipment? Backpacking in a small tent, front-country car camping in medium-sized tent on the official park campground, RV ”camping” on a commercial campground in Springdale...? – gerrit Dec 10 '15 at 11:26
  • @gerrit, not RV camping neither backpacking. Just your old-fashioned car camping. – qazwsx Dec 10 '15 at 15:31
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You can get a weather forecast for Zion here. As you can see, daytime temps are about freezing or slightly above by night temps can drop pretty low.

In my opinion camping in -10 to -15 C is pretty cold and you need to have the right gear, although its definitely possible. Obviously make sure you have suitably warm clothes, a decent tent and you'll probably want a good 4 season sleeping bag. If you have not camped in these kinds of conditions before I'd recommend planning so you can easily escape to somewhere warm e.g. your car if you need to.

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I camped in Zion during New Years a few years ago - it is very cold. The air is frigid and the only times you feel warm is with sun. That being said, the park is very quiet and beautiful in the winter. Theres lots of huge icicles hanging from cliffs, icy lakes, etc. Keep in mind a lot of the trails are closed. We were able to do Angels Landing and the extra ice added for a thrill ;-) Camping in the cold is not fun in my humble opinion - but if you wanted to do so, get a sleeping bag rated for 10 degrees less than the average night temperature. You'd rather be too warm in that situation than too cold!

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