Category Archives: Weather & Climate

Reports, discussion, and other thoughts on Zion area weather and climate

Virgin River Flash Flood Video

Mike and Seth caught some revealing footage of the Virgin River in scary flash flood mode as it carried a huge cottonwood tree down-river like an insignificant Poohstick. See how dark the water is? The color comes from the high load of silt, mud, and rock the river picks up in a flood event. 95% of the erosion in Zion happens in punctuated events like this, where sudden, heavy rains create high-volume, high-velocity river conditions that pick up tons and tons of sediment and move it downstream. Once the momentum gets going, all that debris can scour banks and displace large areas of sediment, replacing ankle-deep shallows with deep pools, and vice-versa. It’s super fun to explore the river after a flood event like this and try to find the best “new” swimming holes the flood has created. The guys filmed this footagee just above the Springdale River Park, where we pick up tubers at the end of their runs. Seems like tubing would be a little extreme with that amount of water and debris in the river, don’t you think? If you want to see a flash flood, I highly recommend a viewing it from a safe place like this, … Continue reading

Posted in Natural History, Safety, Seasonal, Springdale, Summer, The Narrows, Tubing, Weather & Climate, Zion National Park | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Cloud Project Reaches 1000 Days Atop Angels Landing

I drop in on Texan photographer Kelly DeLay’s Cloud 365 Project occasionally, and I noticed today that he shot his 1000th cloud image from the top of Angels Landing this last week. There’s also a cloud image taken from Springdale the following morning. Kudos to Mr. DeLay for some serious tenacity in sustaining such an interesting long-term project. And he has a pretty cool website, too.

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Interesting Weather Coming to Zion This Weekend

The National Weather Service is predicting some interesting weather in Southern Utah this weekend, including: • Record-breaking warm temperatures on Saturday • Strong winds, with 40 – 65 MPH wind gusts Saturday afternoon/evening • A drastic (25 – 40 degrees F) drop in temperature overnight, with valley rain and mountain snow on Sunday If you are thinking, “Oh no… Looks like a horrible weekend in Zion,” think again! Zion is often at it’s best during turbulent weather, and this weekend looks like a fantastic opportunity to see Zion in full splendor. Interesting weather is great for photography, especially if Zion Canyons gets iced with snow on Sunday morning, which dramatically accents all the cliffs and crags. And Saturday looks like it will be BEAUTIFUL, full-on shorts-and-tshirts weather. So come up or down or however YOU get to Zion, and we’ll be happy to greet you for the natural festivities, whatever they are!

Posted in In the News, Seasonal, Spring, Weather & Climate, Zion National Park | Tagged , | Comments Off

Lightning Fatality Urges Caution During Summer Storms

While I usually think of lightning incidents as more of an alpine danger occurring in the Sierra Nevada or Rocky Mountains, this is the second lightening fatality this summer in the Desert Southwest (the other was about a month ago at Grand Canyon). While approaching thunderstorms can be thrilling to watch, PLEASE watch them from a safe place. When “very safe” places like vehicles or buildings are unavailable, do your best to distance yourself from high points and trees. If you can, sit on something insulating, like a backpack, sleeping pad, or rope. Canyons are generally safe places in terms of lightning, as you are between two high points, whereas places like Angels Landing are very dangerous in a lightning storm. Look here for detailed information from USFS ranger Melanie Fullman on the science behind lightning and specific recommendations on how to be safe in a lightning storm. Lightning Causes One Fatality in Bryce Canyon National Park An international visitor was killed by lightning along the Rim Trail between Sunrise and Sunset Points in Bryce Canyon National Park on Thursday, August 18. The victim was identified as Volker Kunz, 51, from Hamm, Germany. At approximately 12:20 PM, Mr. Kunz and … Continue reading

Posted in Accidents, Hiking, In the News, Outdoor Leadership, Safety, Summer, Weather & Climate | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cedar Breaks Still Under Snow at 11,000 Feet

Here’s the latest on conditions high up at Cedar Breaks. This is the snow feeding the Virgin River and The Narrows, which is why we expect The Narrows to continue to be closed through June. As this news release mentions, however, the water is great for the local ecology, and the summer wildflowers in the high country should be in top form. Deep Snow Further Delays Opening Date for Cedar Breaks National Monument CEDAR BREAKS NATIONAL MONUMENT, UTAH. Opening the park road and visitor facilities at Cedar Breaks National Monument has been delayed at least one to two more weeks. The slow melting rate and the vast amount of snow yet to be removed from roadways, parking lots, and facilities have hampered efforts to open the park. The new target date is June 17. “Visitor safety is our number one priority for deciding when to open the park ,” said Park Superintendent Paul Roelandt. “The scenic road through the park still has areas where lanes are partially blocked by snow or where visibility around curves is hampered by drifts of ten feet or more.” The Cedar Breaks Visitor Center will open for the season after the road through the park … Continue reading

Posted in Natural History, Seasonal, Summer, Uncategorized, Weather & Climate, Wildflowers | 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

Recent Subway Trouble Highlights Dangerous Spring Conditions

While there are LOTS of fantastic ways to enjoy Zion right now, hiking The Subway is not one of them. Due to dangerous high water conditions and a flurry of “lost hiker” reports in the last two weeks, the Park Service has closed The Subway until further notice. While nobody has been seriously injured or harmed, this story from KSL Salt Lake City features video from the crew that helped out hikers who spent four days stranded in the Subway last week. While The Subway has a reputation as a moderate, beautiful hike which is appropriate for families and kids, risks involved in The Subway are VERY contextual. In mid-June, when rain is rare, temperatures high, and days long, The Subway can be exceptionally hospitable. Even then, however, you still need to have proper equipment and knowledge to manage short rappels, downclimbs, and cold water. During periods of heavy rain or snow melt, however, The Subway quickly becomes an intimidating and life-threatening place. Though some canyoneers do have proper equipment, experience, and training to descend The Subway in high-water conditions, most use good judgment by going elsewhere to better conditions, and returning on a better day or season.

Posted in Accidents, Canyoneering, In the News, Outdoor Leadership, Seasons, Videos, Weather & Climate, Zion, Zion National Park | 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.  

Posted in Seasonal, Weather & Climate, Winter, Zion National Park | Comments Off

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

Posted in Canyoneering, Seasonal, Trip Reports, Weather & Climate, Winter, Zion | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Hiking Crampons Help Hikers Enjoy Zion’s Winter Majesty

Zion is so beautiful in the winter. We typically enjoy mild temperatures (daytime highs in the 50s or 60s) and sunny skies throughout the “cold” months, with an occasional rain or snowstorm to keep us on our toes. Even those storms deliver wonderful gifts, though, leaving snow-capped peaks, glistening icicles, and white accents on the millions of Zion’s orange sandstone ledges. The one drawback of our winter weather, perhaps, is the myriad trail conditions it creates. With all the melting and thawing and shade and sun, Zion’s trails host a smorgasbord of terrain for the unprepared hiker. It’s easy to underestimate the trouble icy trails can cause, but it’s just as easy to be prepared with a little forethought and the right equipment. I hiked the Upper Emerald Pool via the Kayenta trail yesterday; while the sunny part of the trail was soft and muddy, the shaded portion was a field of snow and ice. To deal with the frozen section of trail, I slipped on my hiking crampons, lightweight traction systems that dig into the ice and make for stable walking. There are many different types of slip-on snow and ice traction products on the market these days. Many … Continue reading

Posted in Gear, Hiking, Safety, Seasonal, Weather & Climate, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off