Category Archives: Winter

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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Field Trip to Toroweap, Grand Canyon National Park

Living in the shadows of Zion National Park, sometimes it’s hard to understand that there can be beauty anywhere else. Two weeks ago, several staff members took a day trip to check out Toroweap and the Grand Canyon. So after a quick stop at Deep Creek Coffee in Springdale, the ZAC staff drove the four and a half hours to check out the canyon. The drive begins with crossing through something familiar, and occasionally routine for me, Zion National Park. On our drive, bighorn sheep and mule deer greeted us as we drove through the east side. Since we left early in the morning, we were lucky enough to catch some of the sunrise on our drive. Between the majestic colors and good conversation, the drive went by quickly. The town of Fredonia is a small Arizona border town. And no road trip through a border town is complete without a stop for Lottery, Guns, Ammo, and Beer! So after a brief stop filling up our coffee cups and Landcruiser at Judd’s Auto, we moved on. We eventually turned onto a dirt road for beautiful views of desert plains and distant mountains for 60 long, rutted miles. At this point, … Continue reading

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Ski with a Dixie National Forest Ranger at Brian Head Ski Resort

Yes, there is snow! You can check current conditions on the Brian Head Resort website. We just received this press release from the Dixie National Forest: “Cedar City, UT – Join Forest Service Snow Rangers as they guide tours on the ski slopes of Brian Head Resort. On Saturday, February 18, 2012 at 11:00 am and 2:00pm meet with Forest Service rangers to learn about some of the natural history, cultural history, and geology of the area, and to learn about the public/private partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and Brian Head Resort in providing public recreation opportunities on National Forest System lands. If you would like to participate in the event, skiers or snowboarders must have a valid day pass or season pass to ride the lift, and have at least an intermediate skiing or snowboarding ability.  Youth under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and have intermediate skiing or snowboarding ability. Meet at Brian Head Resort, Giant Steps Chairlift #2.   Please gather at the bottom of the chairlift #2, beginning at 10:45 a.m. and 1:45 p.m., respectively.  After a brief orientation at the bottom of the Giant Steps Lift, the group will ride the chairlift … 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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Zion Park Winter Updates

For many people, the winter months are their favorite time to visit Zion National Park. Moderate temperatures, mostly sunny days and no crowds create the perfect conditions for awesome hiking and sightseeing. For some great recommendations on how to make the most of your winter visit, read Sarah’s article on making the most of Zion’s winter months. Here is the latest 2011/12 winter update from the Park: “December signals the beginning of a quieter time in the park with fewer visitors and increased opportunities for solitude. Due to decreased visitation, some services will be reduced or ended for the winter season, announced Superintendent Jock Whitworth. The voluntary shuttle service that provides transportation to the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive on weekends in November has ended operations for the season. The Zion Canyon Shuttle and the Springdale Shuttle will resume regular service on April 1, 2012. For visitors interested in spending the night in the park this winter, the Watchman Campground and Zion Lodge are open year-round. During a trip, the public is encouraged to visit the Zion Canyon Visitor Center for information on park activities and trail conditions. This facility is staffed from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. The Kolob … Continue reading

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Mountain Top Reflections: Desert Oasis

My first draft of this blog post was a detailed description of my recent Red Rock climbing trip. The salient points were, a) I am good at climbing rocks, b) I know some good places for Asian cuisine in Las Vegas, and c) I am moderately witty. Realizing I spent far too much time coloring such a story, and valuing your time, dear reader, I will spare you my narrative of rock climbing heroism, and ask you to trust me on these points. What I would rather illustrate is the notion of finding one’s self through suffering. By “one’s self,” I mean some greater understanding of who I am, or what I’m capable of. Whilst climbing last week, on the side of an obscure rock, miles from anybody besides my climbing partner, I found myself fully panicked and hyperventilating. Tiptoeing and thrutching up the face of a mountain, I surprised myself by resisting gravity over and over again. The route (Time’s Up, 5.11d) had an exclamation mark next to it in the guide book; I interpreted this as a sign of exciting climbing, and it certainly delivered. The climbing itself was not unique or terribly difficult, but the protection was … Continue reading

Posted in Autumn, Rock Climbing, Spring, Trip Reports, Uncategorized, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

ZAC Memories from John Heusler

This in from John Heusler, a guy who’s been with us since the beginning. Thanks, John! Wow… so much to say about Zion Adventures. Jonathan is without a doubt hugely knowledgeable and insightful about his craft. Besides being a great businessman, he is a heck of a nice guy to boot. We first met just about 15 years ago, when the company was in its infancy, on a cold February day. Jonathan outfitted us with dry gear to hike up the Narrows. He warned us of all the dangers and also pointed out the details of what to look for in terms of beauty. Things like “pictures in the rocks.” Keep your eyes peeled for lots of subtleties that are, in themselves, breathtaking. Ice was everywhere, but it didn’t stop us. We hiked all day and arrived back just in time for them to close the shop. What a trip it was! Since then I have hiked just about every single hike there is in Zion, and every time, I stop in for gear and help from the helpful staff at Zion Adventure Company. NEVER will you find a more accommodating group than this one! Kudos my friends! Congratulations on … Continue reading

Posted in Hiking, Reflections, Seasonal, The Narrows, Trip Reports, Winter, ZAC Events | Tagged | Comments Off

Spring Snowstorms Keep Things Exciting in Balmy Springdale

Snow fell on Friday and Saturday in Springdale… actually, it felt more like Winderdale. Though little snow accumulated on the ground in town, conditions through much of Zion have been affected by the snow. On Saturday morning, ten inches of snow were reported at the Left Fork trailhead for the Subway on Kolob Terrace Road. Zion Spring visitors are occasionally surprised to find snow and ice on trails. This surprise is understandable, given that most visitors don’t encounter Winter Conditions on the roadways, or see much snow as they enter Zion. The steep vertical walls of the National Park keep temperatures cool and trails shaded, however, causing them to hold snow and ice longer than the wider, sunnier areas guests travel though as they approach Zion. Those headed to many hikes in Zion Canyon such as Angel’s Landing and Observation Point will find traction devices which slip-on over your shoes useful for the next day or so as things will slowly begin to melt Sunday. For current weather conditions, always feel free to stop into our shop or the Zion Visitor’s Center.  

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Spring Canyoneering Surprises the Ill-Prepared

Noticed this great trip report from SportsLover, a local St. George-based blogger who ventured out to descend Water Canyon last week. Though these guys fortunately came out of their predicament unscathed, the hypothermic challenge they created for themselves was significant. While two well-trained, large men with a good sense of humor and adventure evidently dealt with the cold challenge well here, the same set of circumstances could lead to an emergency, or even a fatality, for a different team. Not only does cold challenge lead to hypothermia, but also hypothermic symptoms like slower movement, loss of coordination, and, most importantly, impaired cognition. These symptoms easily lead to accidents, compounding the trouble in such situations. As you can see in the pictures, there can be a lot of ice and snow melting out in Zion’s canyons this time of year, which means ice-cold running water, dousing waterfalls, deep pools covered with thin ice, and even hiking in deep snow. When it’s 65 and sunny in town, it doesn’t mean the canyons are hospitable to those in sandals and t-shirts. At Zion Adventure Company, we love spring canyoneering, but we make sure to choose warmer venues OR warmer equipment to make sure … Continue reading

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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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