Author Archives: Sarah


About Sarah

Sarah Stratton is one of the fine guides and outfitters you will meet at Zion Adventure Company. When Sarah isn’t helping people have adventures in Zion, you can find her cooking scrumptious food or playing in the Park.

Trip Report: Prime Winter Conditions in Pine Creek

We went through Pine Creek last week on 1/9 with four people. We were thinking of doing the Subway, but heard that two people doing it the weekend before had lots of trouble and it was an ice rink. So, on to Pine Creek! I am not a fan of cold + water + winter + neoprene, so when I say it was really nice, it probably means it might have been the BEST winter conditions ever! The first downclimb is all dry, a 10 foot drop, then just some ankle deep water to get to the first anchor station. The first rappel lands you in water about chest deep. Then, dry, dry, dry… The Cathedral room has a dry landing, but a crux-like way out with a little swimming and muscling out of the lip. Then, dry dry dry… Then… a huge, fresh, dead bighorn sheep! It must have fallen from the top, and it spans the canyon right before a climb down the ledge-y log. Ewww… that thing is going to start smelling soon. I’m used to seeing legs, random rib cages, etc., but this is a full-size, fully bloated bighorn. So, check it out, and have fun. We had drysuits, … Continue reading

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Book Review: “Finding Everett Ruess” by David Roberts

As an avid reader of Southwest non-fiction and a southern Utah resident, I knew of author David Roberts and the legendary Everett Ruess before I delved into Roberts’ new book, Finding Everett Ruess. Roberts built his writing reputation on non-fiction climbing writing, but he has also pursued more historic/anthropological topics, and one of my favorite books, “In Search of the Old Ones”, discusses the Ancestral Puebloans and their mysterious cliff dwellings. LOTS has been written, sung, painted, and celebrated about Mr. Ruess, a young artist from California who ventured and ultimately disappeared into the canyon country east of Zion, near Escalante. The town of Escalante even holds an annual “Everett Ruess Days” festival, celebrating art, music, and writing on behalf of this “canyon country poet.” So I figured I was in for a treat as these two characters mingled when I started turning the pages. First, an introduction: Everett Ruess was a young man who, in the 1930′s, criss-crossed Southern Utah and Northern Arizona, including much of the Navajo Nation and areas now included in Grand Staircase-Esclaante Monument, Glen Canyon, Lake Powell, Bryce and Zion. In the 30′s, this area was generally overlooked and seldom traveled, a true Western “wilderness.” In his … Continue reading

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Three Great Biking Options in the Zion Neighborhood

“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best.” – Ernest Hemingway There’s no better way to see Zion than by bicycle. In my own time off, biking is my favorite mode of travel and recreation. Zion has every type of biking for every level and ambition of biker. I find pedaling the perfect speed between hiking and driving through our vast, scenic landscape here in the Southwest. Here are a couple of my favorite bike rides in and around the Canyon: Biking Zion Canyon Our free shuttle system is great, but cycling the Scenic Drive is the best way to take in the scenery and (especially after our rainy winter) the Spring flowers blooming alongside the road. It’s also a great way to experience peace and quiet; other visitors pass by on packed buses, while you and a few other cyclists have the road to yourselves. The Details: The full scenic drive is about 14 miles round-trip and takes most bikers 2 – 3 hours. The steepest sections (Canyon Junction to Court of the Patriarchs) is really not too bad, but CAN be avoided by using the shuttle system to transport your bikes … Continue reading

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Will Zion Be Open in Case of A Government Shutdown?

As time counts down for Washington lawmakers to pass a budget, we’ve tried to compile some information on a possible federal government shutdown and what to do if you plan to travel to Zion this weekend or next week. The Zion area is a patchwork of federal and state lands; a shutdown would restrict access to hikers and tourists in some, but not all, federally-managed areas. Please note: Agencies do not announce their FULL plans until after the shutdown occurs (midnight Friday), but this information has been passed along and mentioned as the best information so far. Would Zion National Park be closed? Yes, Zion National Park would be the resource most affected by the shutdown. Visitors would be allowed about 48 hours to leave the Park. During a shutdown, the Park shuttle system, bathrooms, campgrounds, Visitor Center and parking lots are closed. The scenic drive would be gated, but Highway 9 would be open to through traffic. No parking would be allowed along the highway during a closure. Bryce Canyon National Park and Grand Canyon National Park would also be closed in a shutdown. Are there other recreation options in the Zion Area? The good news is, there are … Continue reading

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Spring Conditions in the Zion Narrows

As spring breakers are pouring into Zion hoping to hike The Narrows, we want to update everyone on current river conditions. With spring snow melt, the Virgin River often flows too high for hikers to enter The Narrows, and this is the case currently. A useful tool for all Zion Canyon visitors is the North Fork Water Gauge. This gauge operates on the Virgin River, near Canyon Junction, and updates every fifteen minutes online. The gauge dictates Park closures of canyons draining into the North Fork of the Virgin River, and can also loosely provide a sense of water levels in other Zion drainages. How to interpret the gauge: First, what is a CFS? This abbreviation stands for Cubic Feet per Second. Imagine standing in one spot of the river, and watching the water volume go by. A cubic foot of water is about the size of a basketball. So, if the river is at 40 CFS, about 40 basketballs of water are passing you EVERY second. Key gauge concepts: •    The current CFS give you a sense of river “speed”. •    The graph lets you track the “trending” of the river, over the past day or week. In spring, … Continue reading

Posted in Canyoneering, Hiking, Safety, Seasonal, Spring, The Narrows, Zion | 1 Comment

Trip Report: January Descent of Icy Keyhole Canyon

As a year-round resident of Springdale and Zion, I can say yes, sometimes even WE take our surroundings for granted! Winter often brings mud, rain, and colder temperatures to the Canyon, making canyoneering more challenging to enjoy in frigid water. For me, winter is primarily for down jackets, skiing, and staying DRY. So, in the midst of my winter canyoneering sabbatical, my friends from Cumberland Transit in Nashville called and said they were visiting mid-January, before hitting the Winter Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City. They had all seen the movie, “127 Hours”, and wanted to have a similarly epic experience. Hmmm, I thought, this might be tough. So, we thought about the North Wash area, thought about Blue John Canyon, but snowy conditions in Southern Utah prevailed, so my friends decided to come to Zion, which would provide great hiking, even if a canyon wasn’t do-able. When they arrived, the weather was nice and warm, but I knew the canyon would be frigid and icy, so we decided on an afternoon descent of Keyhole Canyon, a short-ish 2-3 hour canyon on the Zion’s east side. Another group I knew had descended Keyhole the previous week and said they wish … Continue reading

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3rd Annual Snow Fest in Cedar Canyon, Saturday, Feb. 5th

Zion Adventure Company is excited to sponsor the 3rd Annual Snow Fest Event in Cedar Canyon, Utah. Whether you are a seasoned winter warrior or a snowbird who’s never done a snowsport, Snow Fest is a fantastic way to experience local winter activities and learn about new sports in the outdoor community. All events are beginner-friendly, with a focus on introducing more people to the fantastic winter activities we have in Southern Utah. Saturday, February 5th, 2011, 10am-2pm FREE (registration required for equipment and transportation) Deer Valley Cross Country Ski Area, Dixie National Forest, Utah Registration is now open for participation in Snow Fest 2011. This will be the event’s third season and organizers are expecting more skiers and snowshoers than last year. The day will have snowshoe races, cross country ski lessons, a sledding hill for kids, and hot chocolate for all. And all of this is free, thanks to the sponsorship of Southern Utah University, the Dixie National Forest, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Topher Mason and Cedar Mountain Ski Club. To register and reserve snowshoe or ski gear, you must call SUU Outdoors at 435-865-8704 Snow Fest takes place in the Deer Valley Non-Motorized Winter Recreation Area. This … Continue reading

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Awesome Winter Activities in Zion National Park

“Is Zion open year-round? You mean people come here in the winter?” Yes! While the vast majority of Zion’s 2.8 million annual visitors come between March and October, the Park is open year-round, with many of the same, and some novel, outdoor activities to pursue. Here are a few “local secrets” for visiting in the “off season”… Take in the solitude.Want to hike the Emerald Pools trail alone? Or have the summit of Angels Landing all to yourself? Try these hikes in the winter, and you can probably have your wish! On any summer day, these trails are packed with visitors, but in the winter, they provide a serene and wild experience for brave hikers. And even if you have enjoyed these trail before in warmer conditions, the low light and snow accents of winter create some wonderfully different and really beautiful perspectives on the “old classics”. Plus, you won’t catch yourself avoiding the sun, like July hikers do, but rather enjoying it immensely. Be flexible: Mother nature is in charge in the Winter. As our past week’s wet weather attests, winter weather in Zion is a bit unpredictable and can be fierce. Winter days can be 60 degrees and … Continue reading

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Celebrate Your Public Lands By Contributing Your Opinion

Here in Springdale, although we are far from most national news, many of us read “big city” newspapers like the New York Times or the L.A. Times on-line to stay “semi-“ caught up on what’s going on outside Zion Canyon. About every three weeks, a news story pops up in the latter newspaper’s “Public Lands in the West” section, dealing with political plans, which gets my special attention. One such story surfaced this past week, about the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, continuing to protect public lands in Utah and Colorado that were once considered to open up for mining and energy development. Pristine areas of the West are again preserved Unfortunately, it seems like stories like this just fall into the “Science and Environment” category, but we all have stake in decisions made on public lands. Public lands, after all, BELONG to the American public; that’s you, and your family. But wait… think you’ve never used public lands? Have you ever… … Taken a trip with us? Our trips take place primarily on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, in both Wilderness and non-Wilderness Areas. And Zion National Park, of course, is publicly owned. …Gone skiing at a … Continue reading

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Go-To Trail Running Routes In and Around Zion National Park

An article caught my eye earlier this year about the Best Trail Runs in the National Parks. For Zion National Park, my running backyard, the author chose Angel’s Landing. I thought, “Whoa, I’d never run that trail!”.  Don’t get me wrong, Angel’s Landing has it all as a hike: it’s paved and accessible, 5 miles roundtrip, beautiful views, some spicy hiking/climbing, and the company of others. But, in my mind, putting all that into a run might mean shin splints, gasping for breath, and jostling through crowds. So I wanted to share some of MY best Zion running trails: Under 5 miles roundtrip: WATCHMAN TRAIL: Located near the visitor center, this trail is a great addition to any run into the Park from Springdale. The trail itself is about 2 miles roundtrip and gains elevation in some steep, but run-able switchbacks. Beautiful views and not so many people make this an awesome short run. PA’ RUS TRAIL: Also accessible at the visitor center, this trail follows the Virgin River for 1.7 miles (3.4 roundtrip). Spring flowers and fall colors are incredible, and this is also my go-to trail if we’ve had recent rain or snow because its paved surface provides … Continue reading

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