Category Archives: Zion

Is The Zion Narrows Hike Open? A DIY Guide

Every day now, we hear one question more than any other: “Is The Narrows hike open?” We are always happy to answer this question for our store visitors, but we’d also like to help you answer this yourself at home, on the road, or wherever you may be. If you want to see whether The Narrows is open, just check the USGS website. The data you’re looking for is in the areas highlighted in the red boxes below: USGS Narrows Stream Flow Data for the Virgin River Narrows The upper red box (the graph) usually shows continuous cubic feet/second (CFS) data. (For some reason, the data has large gaps over the last few days; this is not normal.) The Narrows is OPEN, if the CFS level has not exceed 150 CFS for the past 24 hours. Even with the gaps in this current graph, we can see the CFS level was around 165 yesterday morning, so The Narrows is closed today. The lower red box indicates the current CFS level. While the data is current listed as “unavailable,” there is typically a CFS number here indicating current conditions. Remember, however, that the current CFS level is less important than the 24-hour … Continue reading

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“Zion: Canyoneering” Author Seeks Edits for 2nd Edition

Tom Jones announced earlier this year that he is beginning work on the second edition of Zion: Canyoneering, his guidebook to Zion’s most popular hikes and technical canyons. As winter’s snow comes (like this last weekend) and goes (it is generally disappearing quickly), most canyoneers will be dusting off their operating gear AND their canyoneering guidebooks and getting back into the slots. So I wanted to remind you when you read something in the guidebook that doesn’t seem to match reality, you have a fabulous opportunity to DO something about it. Write the author! Here’s Tom’s invitation: I’m starting work on a second edition of the Zion: Canyoneering book, and would appreciate comments, corrections and suggestions. Please be as specific as possible, when talking about something specific, but comments in general are also appreciated. Expected release is Feb 2013, so there is a bit of time. I will be soliciting photos around Sept 1st, if’n you want to get your best shots lined up for submission. You can email me directly or post here in the comments. Thanks! Tom

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Zion Narrows Hike Limit Raised to 150 CFS

Shelley called the Park this morning and confirmed a rumor that the Bottom-Up Hiking limit for the Zion Narrows has been raised to 150 CFS. Woohoo! That’s a big deal! But what does that mean, exactly? Until the early 2000s, The Narrows was ALWAYS open, making it a do-at-your-own-risk activity: You looked at the river, maybe you got some advice from the rangers, and then you decided to hike or not. About ten years ago, however, the Park’s lawyers decided the liability of this policy was too great, and ZNP should take measures to protect unwitting Narrows hikers. The Park implemented a system that uses Virgin River water volume (measured in cubic feet per second (CFS)) to determine whether the Zion Narrows is open to hiking or not. The Park set the Top-Down limit at 120 CFS, and the Bottom-Down limit at 140 CFS; if the current CFS is ABOVE the limit any time in the last 24 hours, the hikes are closed accordingly. The upside of this closure system is very few people enter The Narrows when it is unsafe. The downside, however, is The Narrows is closed at levels where athletic hikers could have a lot of fun enjoying … Continue reading

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Video: Winter Hiking in The Narrows, Zion National Park

Long-time ZAC client Jerry King visited us again in January and, as usual, he brought his A/V equipment along. Jerry always makes some sort of video of his Zion escapades, and this time his video focuses on the world-famous Zion Narrows hike. Hiking The Narrows is unique no matter what time of year you do it – how many hikes force you to walk IN a river? – but exploring The Narrows in the winter is even more special. First, you must use a drysuit to stay warm enough (you can see Jerry and his companion in the big zippered suits in the vid). While it may seem uncomfortable to hike in a big waterproof glove, it is worth the trouble when you get to ENJOY wading through 40-degree water all day. Second, since hiking in a 40-degree river DOES sound a little nuts, you usually get the whole place to yourself. The peace and grandeur of The Narrows is incredible particularly striking when it is just you and the canyon… it really feels like another world. Thanks to Jerry for sharing his video with us. If you have hiked The Narrows during winter and have any tips, reflections, or … Continue reading

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Trip Report: Misery Canyon, March 3rd

March 3rd, 2012 proved to be a beautiful day. Stetson, Ben, Zach, Jake, Brandon, and I starting off through the pass west of Checkerboard Mesa around 8am. We had snow here and there, with the occasional posthole-worthy pile. The backside of the pass was sunny and dry. At the start of the canyon, we waded through pools with 1/8″-thick ice on top. The water splashed up on the walls of the canyon would usually freeze before the next person went through. We also enjoyed a few swims, breaking the thin ice as we went. Most wet sections ended in sunny exits that helped you forget how cold they were, right before you got to the next one. We got into the grotto section around 1pm and the canyon was beautifully lit with the little light that was able to get in. We had a nice cold swim under the natural bridge and welcomed the warm spring just below. The East Fork of the Virgin River was flowing just enough that we were able to float out when we stayed in the main channel. The canyon was gorgeous and made for a wonderful day not to be forgotten! Dustin Hymas

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Zion National Park Revises Canyon Permit System

March 1, 2012 For Immediate Release Ray O’Neil 435 772-7823 Backcountry Information 435 772-0170 12-05 Changes to Zion National Park Wilderness Permit System Zion National Park has changed its wilderness permit system to allow visitors to reserve last minute slot canyon day use permits via an online reservation system. This new system will eliminate the need for visitors to wait in line at the visitor center for permits. Reservations for popular day trips such as the Subway (Left Fork), Mystery Canyon and The Narrows are now available. In late fall of 2011, the park requested comments from visitors about possible options for upgrading the wilderness permit procedures. Over 150 comments were received and the vast majority of respondents indicated a preference for an online system to replace the current system. The previous system required visitors to arrive early in the morning and wait in long lines to assure access to the limited number of available last minute permits. The last minute drawing is held at 1:00 pm MT, two days prior to the requested date of the trip. Entries for the last minute drawing are available seven days prior to the drawing until noon MST two days before a trip … Continue reading

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Trip Report: Imlay Canyon on Christmas Day

The question has been asked: Why descend Imlay in the winter? A wonderful canyon maybe, but it’s hard enough during the warmest times of the year. Why build in extra suffering and risk? There are a few reasons really, but paramount is I am competing. Competing with who? For what? Competing for time with my son, Aaron. His options for adventure are great and varied now that he is an adult on his own, with great skills and many talented partners. He likes FreezeFest. He has attended six straight years, but North Wash fare doesn’t move him anymore. So Imlay on Christmas sparks the man-child’s desire for challenge and I am rewarded with time. Time with the man. Last year, the idea was Christmas in Choprock/Kaleidoscope… that was something for him sink his teeth into. This year it was Christmas in Imlay, and I upped it with a plan to climb Ancient Art and Castleton Towers on the following days. He owes me more climbs than canyons anyway, and it is a chance for him to show me his fine skill set. He is on board for this. If I don’t come up with the goods, he will go elsewhere. … Continue reading

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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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Icy Winter Potholes Lead to Shattered Dreams

You might think winter canyoneering would be a breeze. You might think the water freezes in all the potholes, creating little ice rinks you can slide effortlessly across. You might think the frozen water would leave your ropes dry and supple, and your hands warm and gloved. But you’d be wrong. Even now, after I’ve seen dozens of canyons in the winter, I still feel hopeful when I reach the first frozen pool. “Fantastic,” I think, “Maybe the ice is strong enough that we can just walk across it.” I take the first step tentatively, testing the ice. It shifts slightly, with perhaps a slight groan and a bit of watery pulse somewhere deep underneath. By the second or third step, visions of grandeur start to form, and I think I might actually make it across. And then, on the fourth or fifth step, it all falls apart, the ice breaking in large, clean sheets, all at once, opening up for my plunge, hitting the pothole walls, then sailing back at me with sharp, jagged edges. I sputter, try to use the floating ice for support, but realize the futility as ice shards splash my face and threaten my cozy … Continue reading

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Last Day to Comment on ZNP Wilderness Permitting

How do you feel about waiting in line for 2 hours to score a Mystery Canyon permit? Do you reserve your permits online ahead of time, so you don’t have to worry about securing a permit the day of your adventure? Should Zion permitting be similar to The Wave, where users show up at an appointed hour and throw all their names into a lottery hat? These are some of the questions surrounding the current revisiting of Zion’s wilderness permit process. YOU can have a big say in the debate… but for a limited time only! This is the LAST DAY for open public comment on Zion National Park’s wilderness permitting policy. If you’d like to have your voice heard and weigh in on the permitting process, go here and fill out the form. It really doesn’t take very long, and since relatively few folks weigh in, every voice goes a long way in determining Park Service policy. Don’t wait!

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