Winter is a great time to visit the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, Utah. Our family made a winter visit to the zoo a few years ago, and have looked forward to a winter trip to the zoo every year since.
Winters in Utah are known to be snowy and cold, but on a clear, sunny day the outdoors beckon. With appropriate outerwear, a walk around Hogle Zoo can be pleasant. During our recent visit, most of our family was comfortable in heavy hoodie sweatshirts and we put an extra coat on my son, who was riding in a wagon.
The best thing about visiting Hogle Zoo in the wintertime are the small crowds. We didn't have the place to ourselves on the Saturday we visited, but the zoo was far less congested than it would be on a Saturday during any other season of the year. That makes all the difference when your kids are trying to get a good view of the polar bear swimming graceful laps in his pool, and when you want to get great family photos without lots of strangers in them.
The other great thing about Hogle Zoo in the wintertime is that many of the animals are more active. When we visit the zoo during warm weather months, the Siberian tigers and other animals are nearly always sleeping, or hiding in the shady areas of their habitats. During the winter, families can see cold weather animals such as the tigers, Amur leopard, polar bear and sea lions at their best.
The Hogle Zoo has several indoor habitats where visitors can enjoy watching the animals without the chill. The giraffe house seemed as crowded as ever, but we still enjoyed seeing one of our favorite animals.
Here is a giraffe-watching tip we learned on our San Diego Zoo tour. Like cows, giraffes have four stomachs and chew their cud. Every few minutes, a chewing giraffe will swallow the cud. Because of that long neck, you can see it travel all the way down and then all the way back up, until the giraffe starts chewing again. We were fascinated to see one giraffe do this several times over about fifteen minutes.
The downside of visiting Hogle Zoo during the winter is that some warm weather animals are out of view and some attractions and amenities are closed. We did not see the grizzly and black bears, who were probably hibernating. There was a sign at Elephant Encounter stating that the elephants and rhinos might not be out in cold weather. We got a great, uncrowded view of all three elephants, but we saw no rhinos.
The carousel, a favorite Hogle Zoo diversion, was closed for the winter. There are no shows in the amphitheatre. The Beastro, the zoo's largest eatery, was the only dining option open. All of the restrooms appeared to be open, but my daughter tried a drinking fountain to find that it was turned off. That made me especially glad we had brought our own water.
We still enjoy visiting Hogle Zoo at any time of year, but winter at the zoo is a special time.
Good to Know
Where: 2600 E Sunnyside Avenue, Salt Lake City. East of downtown, in the foothills.
“This is the Place” Heritage Park, the Natural History Museum of Utah, the Utah Museum of Fine Art, the University of Utah and Red Butte Garden are all nearby.
When: November through February: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., March through October: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Closed Christmas Day and New Year's Day
How Much: The Hogle Zoo is less expensive in the winter! Winter pricing applies October 1 – April 30.
Adults: $9.75 (Winter), $12.75 (Summer)
Children (3-12) and Seniors (over 65): $7.75 (Winter), $9.75 (Summer)
Children under age 3: FREE (all year)
Annual memberships start at $87
How Long: 2-3 hours. 5 acres of the Hogle Zoo is currently under construction. Plan for a longer visit when the new African Savanna exhibit opens in 2014.
Amenities: counter service dining, gift shop, stroller/wagon rental, picnic areas, diaper changing tables and a nursing room