Category Archives: The Narrows

‘Tis the Season: Late Summer Adventures in Zion

Ahhh, August is here. The desert is still hot, the thunderstorms are coming and going, and for many it is the last chance for a summer adventure. I offer this post as a guideline on how to maximize this time in Zion and the surrounding area. Climbing, for me, is the most important form of recreation, so I will start there. There are few sports that offer such extreme physical challenge and such inspiring rewards. Even when it is 100 degrees outside, climbing in the shade is amazingly reasonable. Shady cragging opportunities exist all through the main canyon for those who can find the right aspects and times of day. One of my favorite summer climbing areas, Kolob Canyon’s South Fork of Taylor Creek, features cool temps and shade most of the day. Perhaps the most exciting and challenging summer climbing I have done is in Kolob on Huecos Rancheros (5.12c) and Namaste (5.12a). Also, Last Rites (5.10+) is a super-fun single pitch finger crack with a bolted start. St. George also has some fun summer climbing opportunities. Enjoy the novelty of Veyo’s Crawdad Canyon Climbing Resort; if you go, don’t miss “The Fly” (5.11c), right off the pool deck. Snow … Continue reading

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Zion SAR Executes Five Rescues in Three Days

Taken from the NPS Morning Report webpage. This is great reading for canyoneers and climbers who want to learn vicariously from others, so as to avoid similar fates. Thanks to all the folks on Zion’s SAR team for being there when we need you, regardless of how we manage to find ourselves there. ***** Rangers Conduct Multiple Technical Rescues By Andrew Fitzgerald and Ray O’Neil, Park Rangers July 26, 2011 The park’s search and rescue team conducted four canyoneering rescues in three days, then took on a big wall rescue of two injured climbers: July 16th – On the morning of July 16th, a 20-year-old man suffered a lower leg fracture after a short fall while descending into Mystery Canyon. When the injury occurred, he was over a quarter mile and 400 vertical feet below the canyon rim in a steep, heavily-vegetated gully. When rangers arrived on scene, he told them he’d be willing to assist with his evacuation, but that he could not bear any weight on the injured leg. Over the next six hours, he laboriously worked his way to the canyon rim with rangers’ assistance while the park’s contract helicopter staged at a nearby landing zone. His … Continue reading

Posted in Accidents, Canyoneering, In the News, Outdoor Leadership, The Narrows, Trip Reports, Zion, Zion National Park | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Trip Report: Zion Narrows Top-Down Thru Hike

I ran (ok, trotted) through the Zion Narrows from the top last Sunday (7/13/2011). Here is what I found: 1. I had never done The Narrows from the top in highish water. It was MUCH more difficult than I expected. There are many obstacles in the upper part of the Narrows (above Big Springs) that require quite a bit of hunting around to find a reasonable route. With water high, plunging into the river was not always an option. 2. There were maybe five required stream crossings that were thigh-waist high with strong current (i.e. where being swept away was a real possibility). 3. I ended up taking about five swims. I would say two were mandatory. The water was nice and warm-ish, so shorts and (Sport Science) tee shirt was fine, and the air temps were high enough to not require stopping and warming up. 4. I was somewhat concerned about the other 11 hikers on the 6:30 am Chamberlain shuttle. But, I guess they did OK. It is a BIG DAY, I hope they all realize it. I was hoping to match my time of 15 years ago, six hours. No way! About 15 minutes of breaks, moving reasonably well, … Continue reading

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Two Narrows Campsites Closed for 2011 Season

Looks like we are down two campsites for the remainder of the season, or until they can be “relocated.” Sites #1 and #10 were vanquished by the December floods, and determined unusable by the Park Service. How do you relocated a campsite, anyway? Too bad about Site #1, which is (was) well ahead of all the other Narrows sites. One of my favorite ways to hike The Narrows in the busy season has been to leave on a late (9:30 am) shuttle for Chamberlain’s Ranch, let all the other shuttle passengers go ahead while I eat lunch (i.e. lighten my load), then start the hike with everyone else ahead of me. With reservations at Campsite #1, I can alway count on a silent, solitude experience until at least midday of Day 2, when I start catching up with late-rising overnighters and ultra ambitious through-hikers begin to pass me. Hopefully, Campsite #1 stays in a similar vicinity… or I might need to make a new plan. Here’s the official release from ZNP: Zion Canyon Narrows Reopen for Visitor Use The popular Zion Canyon Narrows (The Narrows) have reopened for visitor use to both day hikers and overnight campers. Due to high water from an … Continue reading

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Zion Narrows Now Open for Bottom-Up Hiking

At 9:00 a.m. this morning, Zion National Park temporarily suspended the “24-hour” rule to allow hikers into The Narrows via the Bottom-Up hike. Kudos to the Park Service for allowing hundreds, if not thousands, of people to hike the Narrows while the Virgin River flirts with the 140 CFS level for a few days, en route to its normal summer volume. Had the Park decided to strictly enforce the “under 140 CFS for 24 hours” rule, many, many people would have missed a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see one of the most stunning hikes in the world. While the Bottom-Up Narrows hike is now open, those wishing to hike The Narrows in its entirety, from the top-down, must wait a few more days. The Park predicts issuing top-down day hike permits beginning Thursday, 6/30, and overnight backpacking permits Saturday, 7/2. If your group is planning a top-down Narrows hike soon, be sure to make a Chamberlain’s Ranch shuttle reservation soon, as we are likely to book up quickly. On a related note, now that the Bottom-Up Narrows is open, the technical canyoneering route down Mystery Canyon should also be open – if you can get a permit. ZNP allows 12 people … Continue reading

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Virgin River Falls Below 140 CFS, Narrows Hike to Open Soon

The light at the end of the Narrows tunnel draws nearer. Yesterday, and again this morning, the Virgin River fell below the magic 140 CFS-mark, the Park benchmark used to determine whether The Narrow is open or closed. Once the River remain below this 140 CFS mark for 24 hours, the Park will open The Narrows to bottom-up hiking. Unfortunately, those wishing to hike The Narrows top-down as an over-night backpacking trip or a single-day thru hike will need to wait at least a few more days. All top-down Narrows hikes require a backcountry permit, and the Park will not issue permits until the River is below 120 CFS for 24 hours. If you are in Springdale and hoping to hike The Narrows this week, stop in to our store anytime to check on the Narrows forecast. We are happy to inform you about current conditions, and can help you reserve equipment so you’ll be ready to go as soon as the Park gives the green light on The Narrows.

Posted in Canyoneering, Hiking, Local Events, Seasonal, Summer, The Narrows, Zion, Zion National Park | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Alternatives to Hiking the Zion Narrows During Spring Flood

Extraordinary precipitation this winter/spring has resulted in high water levels in The Narrows this spring, closing the world-famous hike for the last two months. Since the snow pack remains significant in the watershed’s higher reaches, we expect The Narrows will remain closed another 2 to 4 weeks. So many Zion visitors plan to hike The Narrows, and we have the ugly job of telling all these folks, day after day, they can’t explore this place they’ve heard so much about and have travelled so far to see. Visitor reactions fall across the board: mad, sad, frustrated, crestfallen… a few hesitant hikers are even glad to have an convenient excuse to miss The Narrows. But the upside of this whole situation, the thing we try to help everyone see, is there are TONS of world-class activities in Zion that can be just as rewarding as The Narrows hike. If you are bummed to miss The Narrow on your current or upcoming trip, please peruse the following ideas for ways to turn that frown upside down and make the most of your visit. Fabulous Day Hikes 2- to 4-hour hikes like Angels Landing, Observation Point, Emerald Pools, and Hidden Canyon offer breathtaking views, great … Continue reading

Posted in Canyoneering, Families, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing, Seasonal, Spring, The Narrows, Weather & Climate, Zion, Zion National Park | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

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

Big Rains Yesterday Cool Things Down, Flood the Narrows

It has been incredibly hot in Zion this summer. We have been flirting with and/or breaking heat records all summer and into fall, and everyone seems to be ready for a respite. Yesterday, Zion had its first long, drenching, all-day rain of the fall, signaling fall is finally here. While most locals welcome the rain, many eager Narrows hikers will be forced to change plans today, as the Virgin River volume spiked dramatically overnight. The United States Geological Service, or USGS, has a number of monitoring stations along the Virgin, which anyone can view on their website. Here’s the visual representation of how yesterday’s rain affected the water volume in the Narrows: Zion National Park closes The Narrows to bottom-up hiking whenever the Virgin River rises above 140 cubic feet per second (cfs). The Park opens The Narrows back up only after the volume has fallen below 140 cfs for 24 hours. If you ever want to know where the Virgin River’s volume is, feel free to check at the USGS site, or stop into Zion Adventure Company, where we not only have the information on hand, but we can help you interpret it and give our best guess about … Continue reading

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