Utah, which is in the Southwest region of the United States, is well known for its incredible scenic beauty and year round outdoor activities including skiing, snowboarding, hiking, boating, water skiing, horseback riding, camping, and rock climbing. The capital city of Salt Lake City has a number of unique modern and historical sites to visit, including Temple Square, the headquarters for the Mormon church.
Utah has four distinct seasons and widely-variable climate zones. Summer is hot in the north (about 80-100 °F / 27–38 °C), but rarely extreme, and is often unbearable in the far southern valleys and desert terrain (often exceeding 100 °F / 38 °C, and even 110°F / 43 °C). However, summers tend to be quite comfortable in the mountains, making summer an ideal time to experience the mountain terrain of Utah. In winter, temperatures from 20–40 °F (-7–4 °C) are common in the north, with warmer temperatures in the south. Overnight temps can occasionally drop below 0 °F (-18 °C). Snow is common statewide, with the exception of the far southern valleys, from November – March, and often occurs even earlier and later than this. Snow is particularly common downwind of the Great Salt Lake, due to lake effect. A number of excellent ski resorts operate in the Wasatch Mountains, especially around Salt Lake City, from about late November through mid-April. Snow is common in the mountains from late September – May. Summer and fall are both excellent times to enjoy the mountain scenery, with comfortable temperatures, low chance of snow, and easy access to a number of fantastic trails and hiking paths.
Although snow is common in winter in much of the state, rain is less common – it can be expected in winter and spring in the south and in spring in the north, but it’s usually fairly light and short in duration. Fall also sees a short but unpredictable rainy season. Although summer is bone dry statewide, thunderstorms are a daily threat, especially throughout the south and in the northern mountains. Although these t-storms are short and small, they can be very intense. Although summer and fall are great times to enjoy the mountains and the slot canyons and desert terrain of southern Utah, attention must be paid to the skies as the evening approaches if camping in the mountains or enjoying the rugged terrain of southern Utah, especially in August. These storms can bring flash flooding to the narrow slot canyons of southern Utah, so make sure to evacuate the slot canyons as soon as possible if you see thunderstorms nearby – if you have a guide they will usually know when precautions must be taken. Summer and fall also bring a serious threat of wildfires in the backcountry.
September and early October is usually the best time to enjoy Utah, especially the mountains, with milder temperatures than summer, less chance of violent thunderstorms, and little chance of snow in the mountains. In addition, significant snowpack can linger in the mountains through May, while by early Autumn, summer has melted all of the snow, and snowstorms are rare. The national parks of Utah can get very crowded during Summer but predictably become less crowded towards late Summer and into Fall. Finally, Fall colors are spectacular in the mountains of Utah, and reach their peak in September. Colors in the valley peak in mid-October but aren’t especially spectacular. The gorgeous Fall colors in the mountains rival the famous colors of New England, and are sometimes accompanied by early snow, creating a unique and beautiful mixture of vibrant colors and soft white.