Category Archives: Hiking

Staff Rendezvous in Escalante: Coyote Gulch, Spooky and Peek-a-Boo

As the busy summer season approached for us here at Zion Adventure Company, the idea of doing a two day backpacking trip with eight staff members in an area outside of Zion felt like an unrealistic prospect. This, however, is exactly what eight of us accomplished Wednesday, April 30th and Thursday, May 1st out in Escalante (about 2.5 hours East of Zion). We spent two quality days backpacking through Coyote Gulch and literally running through both Spooky and Peekaboo Canyons all of which can be accessed down the infamous “Hole-In-The-Rock” Road. For four of us, the trip started a couple days early as we traveled out before the rest of the group to do the technical canyon, Neon (a popular route in the Escalante area for both backpackers and canyoneers). The rest of our group arrived at Water Tanks the following morning around 9:30am fully energized and amped after their 5:00am departure from Springdale. Before hitting the trail, we savagely consumed several strawberry banana muffins Rich had baked, jokingly trash talked one another for a few minutes, refilled our water from the cars and car spotted our second vehicle at the Forty Mile Ridge Trailhead. We set out for Coyote … Continue reading

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Oh Henry’s

What I really like about National Parks (and ZAC, the company I work for, for that matter), is that they make the concept of “adventure” very accessible, regardless of what people’s level of adventure is. That to say, what really inspired our staff outing to the Henry Mountains was how very inaccessible those mountains are. Bordered on the West by Capitol Reef’s Waterpocket Fold and on the East by Utah Highway 95, they’re far enough beyond the middle of nowhere that it really is no wonder that they were the last explored and geographically mapped mountain range in the lower 48. In fact, to get there, we first had to drive many hours from anywhere to the middle of nowhere, make a right, and drive far enough that where we had previously thought was nowhere began to really feel like it was… somewhere. And then we kept driving. Mostly up. Hang a right towards that ‘road’ down there, keep driving through the canyons and up and down the mesas until you get to those mountains in the distance. Then keep driving. …But not before a stop at Hell’s Backbone Grill for breakfast and coffee. If we were going to leave … Continue reading

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ZAC Staff Backpack Grand Canyon

In an ongoing pursuit to further explore, appreciate and acquaint ourselves with the beauty and mystery of the Southwest, a backpacking trip in the off-season seemed both appropriate and necessary. Over the course of 4 days from January 7-10, 2014, four of us set out to conquer or be conquered by the great and vast landscape of the Grand Canyon. Upon our arrival at the South Rim (about a 5 hour drive from Springdale through Kanab and Page) we found ourselves eagerly greeted at the backcountry desk. Winter crowds and weather at the Grand Canyon are far more mellow than those in the Summer. Attaining the appropriate permits for our planned route was quite easy. Grand Canyon permits cost a bit more than those at Zion ($5 per person per night plus an additional $10 processing fee). Having acquired our permit, it was time to visit the viewpoints at South Rim. We participated in “ooohing” and “ahhhing” at the expanse that unfolded before us. We had one final logistical detail to take care of. Our beginning and ending trailheads for the trip were approximately 5 miles apart, so we stashed a bike in the woods near our destination. For our … Continue reading

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Kim and Dan Visit The Wave

The Wave is a spectacular and world-renowned site located in the backcountry border of Utah and Arizona. A trip there is a magical experience. Getting everything in order to go there is quite another. Hiking the Wave requires a permit, obtained through the Arizona Strip BLM at the Kanab Office or at the Paria Ranger Station (summer only). Only twenty hikers may access this resource each day. Ten of the permits are assigned four months in advance through an online lottery. The remaining ten permits are issued through a walk-in lottery the day before the hike. Obtaining a permit is competitive. You may compete against as many as a thousand people in the online lottery, and a hundred in the walk-in drawing. As you can imagine, being a lucky winner is quite a thrill. To obtain my permit, I entered the next day lottery. Individuals showing up at 9 am for the next day are considered in the drawing. The intensity in the room while your number is drawn from a bingo ball was penetrating. There were 21 names submitted and only 10 names were permitted to enter the Coyote Butte South area to the Wave. The sixth ball drawn, … Continue reading

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ZAC Field Trip: Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and More

Our most recent staff field trip took us east by southeast and over the state line into Arizona where we visited Horseshoe Bend, Upper Antelope Canyon and Upper Water Holes Canyon. We met at the shop on a beautiful Monday morning, excited to begin this adventure. After some opening words and a short brief from our fearless leader, Dave, we all piled in a large Sprinter Van and got on our way. Good laughs, conversation, and freshly baked cookies consumed our 2-hour drive. Our first official field trip stop was Horseshoe Bend. Located just 4 miles southwest of Page, AZ, Horseshoe Bend is aptly named for the horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River in this area. The hike to the overlook point is short (less than a mile) and seems like a bargain for the breath-taking view of the canyon. Our group reveled in the incredible view of the river and canyon. It’s hard to convey what it feels like looking down hundreds of feet below you, watching boats the size of ants maneuver in the crystal clear river. You begin to wonder how in the world something so magnificent came to be and at the same time try to … Continue reading

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Landslide Closes Hidden Canyon Trail

A teenager recently asked me, “Do big rocks fall ever fall down here?” Looking around most anyplace in Zion, and you can see that MANY big rocks have fallen from the canyon walls over time. Because we seldom see rockfall, however, it’s easy to forget where all the boulders on the ground came from. When the Hidden Canyon slide happened last week, it was a great reminder that geology happens all the time… even on actively used trails, in the middle of the day. Thankfully, nobody was hurt. Thanks to Zion’s rangers for helping the stranded hikers out, and for the inevitable work that will need to be done to restore the Hidden Canyon Trail. Until then… it’s a good thing there are lots of other 5-star trail to hike around here. Here’s the news release from the Park Service: Zion National Park Superintendent Jock Whitworth announced today that the Hidden Canyon Trail is currently closed due to a rockslide that occurred on Wednesday evening, July 25 at 5:30 p.m. The rockslide covered a narrow section of the trail with debris trapping 11 park visitors behind it for approximately three hours. Once the debris movement settled down, park rangers set … Continue reading

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Pa’ Rus Trail: Zion’s Most Accessible & Underrated Hike

As I jogged along the Pa’rus Trail this week I thought to myself, “Wow, Pa’rus sure isn’t like Angel’s Landing or Observation Point, but I really like this trail.” Here are my favorite things about the under-rated and under-appreciated Pa’rus Trail: 1. At 3.5 miles round-trip, it is the perfect running distance for anyone who wants to get a quick jog in before they start the day, or maybe just before dinner. 2. Minimal elevation change on this trail (50ft) means that walking, running, or biking here will not need maximal physical exertion, unlike many of Zion’s steep, craggy trails. In fact, the Pa’rus is a great place for a causal sunset or moonlit stroll with a loved one, where conversation is more important than accomplishment. 3. This is the only trail in the park that is puppy and bicycle friendly, so if your little furry friend is getting tired of being cooped up at your campsite, help him get some energy out by walking him on the Pa’rus. 4. The wide paved trail allows for many people to share the trail all at once without any bottle-necking like you might find on top of Angel’s Landing. Great for families … Continue reading

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A Different Kind of Zion Visitor

Imagine… You’ve been hiking and running deep in the Zion backcountry for 13 hours, carrying only a few snacks and one water bottle. You’ve summited a handful of peaks, rappelled off small trees poking out of bare rock, and swum in 40-degree pools of stagnant canyons water. Many, many miles and vertical meters have passed. Now it’s 10:30 PM, your headlamp is dead, and you’re squeezing energy from the far reaches of your left pinky toe to keep going. And THEN, you get to one last, mandatory unexpected swim of unknown length. Do you put your wetsuit back on? Do you cry? Do you just lay down and close your eyes? No… you grit your teeth, make it happen, and blog about it when you get home. Because you are hardcore. Which I am not. Nice story, Dakota Jones. Thanks for showing how the crazies get it done in Zion. The honest, inspiring words about digging deeper than you think is possible is worth keeping in mind, no matter who you are or what makes you crumble.

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Mild Winter Conditions Make for Good Summit Scrambles

Sawtooth Sean posted a fun trip report on Summitpost, detailing his recent Zion peakbagging exploits. After an Angels Landing warm-up upon arrival, they scrambled the West Temple on a short January day, showing short winter days are plenty long enough for a small, efficient team to get up there and back in a reasonable day. When the team was denied an Aries Butte climb the following day (they couldn’t find the route, a common occurrence), they ventured out to Tabernacle Dome to gain some gorgeous views up in Cave Valley. Note on Kinesava/West Temple climbs: Those who wish to avoid terse notes (or worse) from the sheriff should consider parking at the Chinle Trail parking lot, as mentioned in this trip report by H.W. Stockman from April 2011.

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Angels Landing the Best Way: Leave Before Dawn

It can be really cold and dark when you get on the first shuttle from the Zion Canyon Visitors Center at 5:45 a.m. When you get off at the Grotto, the wind makes it feel even colder. That works to my advantage. The earlier and more uncomfortable it is, the less likely it is that I’ll see you there. Don’t get me wrong – generally, I don’t have a problem with sharing. On most Zion trails, I don’t typically notice other hikers much. I’m far more likely to be thinking, “Wow, nothing can beat this scenery”… then rounding the next bend and thinking “OK, now nothing can beat THIS.” The Angels Landing trail is an exception. That trail just dares me to get to the top as rapidly as possible, without any rest breaks and regardless of how high my heart rate gets. I’m happy to take up the challenge, just me and the trail. Interlopers standing in the middle of the path, gaping at the scenery or gasping for breath, seem to be there precisely to aggravate me. Thus, my early and chilly start. I get off the shuttle, make sure my jacket is zipped up as far as … Continue reading

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