West Rim Trail and Lava Point Campground in Zion National Park are Now Open for the Season

The West Rim Trail is officially open as of May 8, 2018.

west rim 6Hikers who want to see some of the most incredible sights available in Zion National Park (and who are also a wee bit masochistic), can now enjoy the 14 mile trek from the West Rim trailhead (below Lava Point) on Kolob mountain in Southern Utah to the Grotto in Zion.

I did this hike 2 years ago and I was fully unprepared for the level of difficulty that it presented. Below are some of my pointers (though it’s not an all-inclusive list) for the trip. Note that these suggestions are for hiking the West Rim Trail in one day and not camping:

West Rim Trail day-hike tips –

  • Wear good shoes! – I wore ‘okay’ shoes and it was miserable! Wear durable hiking shoes that you have already broken in. They should have a comfortable sole and some sort of padding near the toes (you will be going down some very steep hills and this will come in handy). I also recommend wearing Bandaids or some other sort of skin protection on your heel where your shoe would rub against your skin. I had blood blisters the size of nickels on both feet at the end of this hike
  • Take LOTS of water! – Fortunately, this is one of the things I did get right. There is nowhere to refill your water along this hike and you are going to be really thirsty. I would recommend taking at least 100 ounces in a CamelBak, as well as large back up water bottles. When I went, it was hot, but not as hot as it can get it the summer. I would say to take no less than 2 gallons of water, per person, if you’re hiking in the heat & make sure to drink it
  • Pregame your hydration – drink plenty of water in the days prior to your hike to fend off cramping due to dehydration
  • Take plenty of snacks – Salty snacks are good as you will lose a lot of electrolytes through your sweat. I took beef jerky, crackers, and trail mix
  • Pack a lunch – I took a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a Gatorade. I can’t tell you how good that tasted!
  • Wear sunblock, UV protection for your lips, a hat, and sunglasses
  • Watch the weather – It’s always a good idea to know what you’re up against
  • Dress in layers – Don’t wear clothes that might chafe your skin
  • Have a plan for a ride to the trail head – If you’re staying in Springdale, you should be able to take the Zion National Park shuttle from the Grotto back to the town shuttle and to your hotel. There are a couple of shuttle companies that take people to the trail head, but be prepared for around $40/person for the lift (it will save you the hassle of having to find a way back up to retrieve your car). Plan ahead as these shuttles fill up quickly
  • Take toilet paper and a waste bag – Just in case
  • Take a first aid kit – I pack a basic kit with things like Bandaids, tweezers, nail clippers, wrap, gauze, Neosporin, pain relievers, and alcohol swabs
  • Be aware of your surroundings – watch for wildlife such as snakes, mountain lions, and more
  • Plan for plenty of time to spend on your hike – you’re not going to want to be in a hurry, so leave early in the morning to get started
  • Don’t take the shortcut! – as tempting as it may be to take the “shortcut”, which if I remember correctly saves you about a mile, don’t do it! You will miss out on some spectacular scenery
  • Take a cellphone – even if you don’t get great cell service, you may still be able to make an emergency call if you need
  • If you like to walk with a hiking stick, this would be a good hike for it
  • Don’t forget your camera!