Tag Archives: Zion National Park

Government Shutdown Closes Zion National Park

Article Written By Laura Dahl Dateline: October 7, Springdale, UT National Parks around the country closed their gates to visitors on October 1, 2013 as a result of the Federal Government Shutdown. Government Shutdown…what does that mean for Zion? Zion National Park is closed to all recreation and visitation for the duration of the government shutdown. All services, including the shuttle system, visitors center, human history museum, bathrooms, parking lots and campgrounds have been suspended during this time as well. Zion Lodge is also closed. The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive from Canyon Junction to Zion Lodge is also closed. How long will the Shutdown last? There is really no way to know how long this round of government shutdown will last. Historically, shutdowns have lasted anywhere from hours to days, with the longest federal government shutdown lasting 21 days in 1995. Can I drive through Zion National Park? Utah State Route 9 (Mount Carmel Highway) will remain open to automobiles and motorcycles driving through the Park. This route is closed to large vehicles including recreational vehicles, large trailers, and buses. Enjoy the scenery as you drive through the Park. Please be respectful of closure rules. Do not use pullouts, or … Continue reading

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Travel Journal: On the Bright Side

Greetings from Zion! I am back after a few months of (F)unemployment and have many adventures to reflect on. I found people to let me sleep on their floors all over the country, had opportunities to play in the mountains, snow, oceans, and cities, and did my best to learn something every step of the way. Starting the spring season at Zion Adventure Company, I am optimistic. Anticipating my return to Utah, I had some great discussions about what had guided my travels, and what ultimately was bringing me back to Zion. It is hope. I don’t know if it is inherent in the landscape, the people, or in myself, but there is something that pulls me towards the chance to discover a better version of myself. The opportunity to test myself against a new challenge is all the impetus I need. My quest to learn to surf this winter is a perfect example of this. I have a vision of myself riding waves with fluid easy movement, and with only a vague notion of what surfing was about, I stepped on a plane and allowed my hope to carry me into the unknown. Being a guide and instructor, it would … Continue reading

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Will Zion Be Open in Case of A Government Shutdown?

As time counts down for Washington lawmakers to pass a budget, we’ve tried to compile some information on a possible federal government shutdown and what to do if you plan to travel to Zion this weekend or next week. The Zion area is a patchwork of federal and state lands; a shutdown would restrict access to hikers and tourists in some, but not all, federally-managed areas. Please note: Agencies do not announce their FULL plans until after the shutdown occurs (midnight Friday), but this information has been passed along and mentioned as the best information so far. Would Zion National Park be closed? Yes, Zion National Park would be the resource most affected by the shutdown. Visitors would be allowed about 48 hours to leave the Park. During a shutdown, the Park shuttle system, bathrooms, campgrounds, Visitor Center and parking lots are closed. The scenic drive would be gated, but Highway 9 would be open to through traffic. No parking would be allowed along the highway during a closure. Bryce Canyon National Park and Grand Canyon National Park would also be closed in a shutdown. Are there other recreation options in the Zion Area? The good news is, there are … Continue reading

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Birch Hollow and Buckwater Draw in the News

Noticed two recent newspaper stories on canyon descents, one on the Hiking Utah section of the Salt Lake Tribune and another in the Vernal Express. Erin Alberty wrote a short blog piece for the Tribune on her descent of Birch Hollow. Birch is just outside Zion’s eastern boundary, a pretty 3AI canyon draining into Orderville Hollow. Erin hooked up with a couple kind guys from the Wasatch Mountaineering Club to show her the ropes in Birch, which I’m sure she appreciated. Gary Lee Parker reported on his descent of Buckwater Draw in the Vernal Express. I’m not quite sure where Buckwater lies, but from the article it looks like it’s near Vernal, in the central/eastern part of Utah. Always fun to see canyons in the news, especially when they include pictures (both these articles do).

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Zion Road Construction Update

Work on the East Zion and Switchback roads has been progressing.  They have started paving up the Switchbacks, and have been removing the surface in a few places in East Zion. Just recently, they have started working on the retaining wall at Tunnel West (ie, near the west entrance of the Tunnel), so that section is on single-lane control.  The IMPACT of this is that there are now THREE one-way sections on the road, and traversing the road (even when open) is slower than it has been.  It takes approximately 60 minutes from Canyon Junction to the East Entrance, or about 30 minutes longer than normal. Keyhole and Pine Creek canyons remain open, though parking may be challenging. Tom

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More Zion Wildflowers from Tom Jones

Back from another shooting spree, Tom’s posted up a number of wildflowers for measurement and identification on his Latest Rave site. If you enjoy serious flower study, you can easily spend 30 minutes here sauntering with Tom, pondering sub-species, stamen lengths, and the wealth of flowers brought on by the big monsoon year. There are a number of flowers Tom needs help identifying; if you can help, drop him a line!

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Work Abroad Students Provide Crucial Summer Help

Every summer, thousands of students from all over the world work in United States National Parks under the federally-sponsored “Work & Travel” program, giving them a chance to work and live in a beautiful place, save some money, practice English, and become familiar with American culture and business. Each year, a few hundred of these students, charmed by photographs of red cliffs and slot canyons on the internet, choose to spend their summer in Zion National Park. The students work in various positions at the Zion Lodge, serving up food at the Cafe, maintaining the rooms and cabins of the Lodge, or keeping the grounds clean and functional. At Zion Lodge this summer, you can be helped by future engineers, lawyers, doctors, and businessmen: students from Vietnam, China, Thailand, Philippines, Russia, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Turkey, and Kosovo. For many of them, it’s their first trip abroad, the first time working a formal job, or even the first time being away from their families. After a few months of work, many of them decide to spend a few more weeks traveling across United States, visiting places they have only seen in Hollywood movies. They go back to their country with a great experience, … Continue reading

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Big Water Canyoneering in Kolob Creek

Kolob Creek is one of Zion’s most prized descents, a remote canyon falling off the high plateau near Lava Point. Unlike most of Zion’s technical canyons, Kolob Creek flows year-round, fed by the dammed waters behind Kolob Reservoir. This has a nice side and a nasty one. Nice side: the beauty, music, and magic of a flowing canyon is simply wonderful. Nasty side: it is easy to get in over your head (figuratively and literally) in a flowing canyon, as the hydraulic power of flowing water can be tremendous, deadly, and difficult to predict. Due to its high elevation, the descent season for Kolob Creek is relatively small. 5 cfs is the general MAXIMUM recommend CFS for a Kolob descent; finding a time when the flow volume is under this benchmark can be trying. Though snow melt varies tremendously year-to-year, the water volume is usually too high for a safe Kolob descent until at least June. This year, the flow is still dangerous at the beginning of August, an example of how variable snow melt can be. In addition, during dry years, the water district executes regular reservoir releases into Kolob Creek, typically a week at a time. So even … Continue reading

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Recent Accidents & Incidents in Zion

Every day, the National Park Service issues a Morning Report, a daily report of accidents, incidents, operational notes, upcoming trainings, and hiring opportunities across the National Park system. The Morning Report not only provides a more objective, concise report of accidents/incidents (though perhaps less detailed) than we often find in the news, but it can provide great opportunities to learn from others mistakes and remember the degree of risk we must manage in the outdoors. Below are a couple of articles detailing recent serious accidents in Zion’s backcountry. Our continued thanks goes to Zion’s Search and Rescue (SAR) personnel for their efforts they take to prepare and respond to those who need help when their adventures go awry. Zion National Park (UT) Boy Scout Dies During Backpacking Trip On July 21st, twelve members of a Las Vegas-based Boy Scout troop were completing the second day of a planned four day backpacking trip in the park.  Corey Buxton, 17, was having difficulty and lagged behind as the group hiked south along the Hop Valley Trail.  Around noon, a leader who was hiking a short distance in front of Buxton turned around and did not see him. He hiked five minutes back … Continue reading

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3 Men Caught in Spry Flash Flood

Most years, June and the early portion of July is bone-dry in Zion as temperatures creep from the 80s, to the 90s, and up into the 100s. Right around mid-July, however, the thunderstorm engines on the West Coast rev up and we see big, black, cumulus rollers come through almost every afternoon. This is “monsoon season” in Zion, a far cry from the namesake torrents of SE Asia, but still a major force to reckon with, especially if you are in a canyon environment. Desert News and KCSG television recently reported the story of three Las Vegas men who were caught in a flash flood in Spry Canyon last Saturday, June 24th. Evidently, all three of the men were washed over a 40-ft. drop, and two of the three washed over and additional 60-ft. drop. Fortunately, one of the guys was able to signal for help, and though details of injuries are unclear, it sounds like everyone was transported alive to the hospital to Las Vegas. Over the years, we’ve met very few people who were actually caught in the water/debris flow of a flash flood and lived to tell about it. The above stories provide sketches of the events, … Continue reading

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