Category Archives: Zion National Park

Goings-on in Zion National Park

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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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!

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Zion Narrows Forecast for Spring 2012

The Zion Narrows closed last weekend for the first time in 2012; the hike is open again now, but will certainly close a few more times throughout spring. Since we are pretty big Narrows Nerds here at ZAC, I thought it might be fun to provide some “big picture” background info for those  eager to know if The Narrows and other technical canyons will be closed during YOUR visit. Like all things in The Nature, a wide variety of factors influence Spring flooding. But for the most part, spring water volume is determined by three primary factors: Snowpack – The snowpack on the Markagunt Plateau (elevation 8000 ft.) north of Zion feeds the Virgin River as it melts, contributing significant water volume to the North Fork watershed each spring. One year ago today, the snowpack was 112″, while today, the snowpack is only 54″. That’s a big difference. Drive up to Cedar Breaks along Highway 14, and you can see the snowpack for yourself. Daily High Temperatures – When temperatures are really warm, you can almost SEE the snow pack shriveling on the Plateau. Moderate temperatures, however, melt snow slowly, causing a slower, more gradual melt. If you watch the … Continue reading

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Spring Flowers Beginning to Bloom in Zion

Went up Angels Landing twice this last week, so I thought I’d report on how spring is coming along in Zion Canyon. From a bloom point of view, things are getting ready to start. A few plants are currently flowering, but not too many. On the lower switchbacks, I saw a few flowers including: • Zion Milkvetch (purple pea-type flowers, low to the ground, most prominent flower at the moment) • Western Wallflower (cluster of yellow, four-petaled flowers, mostly isolated individuals, some in clumps, second-most prominent at the moment) • Slickrock Paintbrush (red paintbrush, close to the ground. A few here and there) • Yellow sweet clover (I think. Spreading leaves, small yellow flowers pea-like) Driving, on the side of the road near the Museum, there was: • Cliffrose (flowering bush, LOTs of white blooms. Very strong “rose” smell). Then it snowed on Sunday evening, so… Tom

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Zion Shuttles Resume Service on Sunday, April 1

Ah, the Zion shuttle. It’s there when we need it, it goes away when we don’t. Some things in life are just right. This time of year is always a good showcase for why the Zion Shuttle System exists. With warmer weather and lots of families traveling over Spring Break season, the parking lots that sit largely empty all winter are filling up quickly and the drive up and down Zion Canyon is becoming more congested. Want to ride your bike up canyon? On a busy Spring Break week, it’s really not too fun because all the traffic makes me nervous. But when the shuttle returns for the season… Voila! Zion Canyon is peaceful again, with nobody fighting for parking spaces and lots of smiling pedalers on the roads. Enjoy! Shuttle System Resumes Operation in Zion Date: March 20, 2012 Contact: David Eaker, 435-772-7811 The Zion National Park Transportation System will begin shuttle operations on Sunday, April 1, 2012 and provide daily service through Sunday, October 28, 2012. This marks the thirteenth year of operation for the shuttle system in Zion National Park and Springdale, Utah. The shuttle system is supported by park entrance fees and all shuttles are fare-free. … Continue reading

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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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Spring Break Ranger Programs for Kids Visiting Zion

Though Zion National Park staff is still at low-season numbers, the Park has put together a series of programs specifically tailored to kids for Spring Break. If you’re in Zion this week with your kids, check out any (or all) of the three special programs. Canvas of Cliffs Monday, March 12 and Wednesday, March 14 9:30 – 11:30 AM Meet at Big Bend Shuttle Stop Search for peregrine falcons, condors, and climbers and discover their stories Pool Pondering Tuesday, March 13, Thursday, March 15, and Friday, March 16 9:30 -11:30 AM Meet at Emerald Pools Trailhead Uncover unique plant and animal secrets. Stellar Storytellers Monday, March 12 and Thursday, March 15 3:00 – 3:30 PM Meet at the Zion Human History Museum Listen to fun and adventurous stories.

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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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