Trail Closures Remain in Effect in Zion National Park

Keep in mind when making your hiking plans for the day, the following trail closures in Zion are still in effect (as of 8/3/18)

  • Emerald Pools
    • The Upper & Lower Emerald Pools trails are closed from the rockfall location
    • The trail is open from the Emerald Pools trailhead to the just beneath the waterfall
  • Kayenta Trail
  • Lower West Rim Trail
    • The trail is closed from the Grotto to Cabin Springs
    • This closure includes access to Angels Landing from the Grotto

The Zion Shuttle will continue to make a stop at the Grotto to pick up passengers, though it will not be dropping off passengers there.

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Enjoy the beautiful rain, but please keep in mind that it is unpredictable during monsoon season. Your safety is your responsibility, so please use caution when hiking in washes and slot canyons to avoid being caught in a flash flood. For additional safety considerations during monsoon season, please take a moment to read this previous post. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Road Construction on SR-9 Between Virgin and Rockville to Add Passing Lanes

Starting on Monday, July 30, 2018, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) will begin road construction on a new project on State Route 9 between Virgin, Utah and Rockville, Utah – on the way to Springdale & Zion National Park.

This goal of this project is to add passing lanes on SR-9 between mile markers 21 and 27.

Flaggers will be in place during this time, with delays affecting both directions of traffic.

Here are some of the details that may affect your travel:

  • Work will begin July 30, 2018
  • Work will occur the weekend of 8/4 & 8/5, though:
    • The expected construction schedule is Monday-Friday, 7:00am – 5:30pm
    • **as of 8/16/18 – reports of flaggers stopping cars overnight and early morning – likely to continue until the daytime temperatures begin to cool. We will update as the schedule returns to what was originally expected**
  • Wait times are intermittent, but if you are stopped:
    • The maximum wait time each direction is 15 minutes
  • No work will occur on holidays (including Labor Day weekend)
  • Paving is scheduled to occur in mid-September, at which time:
    • Night work may occur
    • Weekend work may occur
  • This project has an expected completion of November 15, 2018.

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*Above image courtesy of UDOT

Monsoon Season in the Desert Southwest

Monsoon season in southern Utah and Zion National Park is, in a word, unpredictable.

It is also incredibly beautiful, but unforgiving and dangerous.

Monsoonal rains are an annual occurrence that we experience in southern Utah, typically mid-July through as late as early September.

Even though these storms can occur any time of the day, they typically begin in the afternoon through late evening.

Should you find yourself enjoying the outdoors of southern Utah during monsoon season, here are some things to remember:

  • If you are hiking a slot canyon, always check the weather for areas up to 40 miles away (typically to the north or east of the area you’re hiking). A flash flood can come from rains many miles away, even if the skies are clear where you are
  • Stay out of dry washes, slot canyons, rivers, or streams during storms. Water levels can rise quickly, bringing fast-moving floods or even masses of debris at the front. Always seek higher ground as quickly as possible. Even a few feet can make a difference
  • Take shelter during a thunder storm. We have some amazing lightning storms during monsoon season. View them from the safety of a building or a vehicle
  • Another thing to keep in mind, especially hiking in the Narrows, is that the park service cannot always know when to expect a flash flood and may not close the hike. Some of the worst flooding events have occurred on days with the lowest percentage chance of rain. Your safety is your responsibility, so always use caution and be aware of the weather and your surroundings

Aside from the dangers of monsoon season, it is one of the most incredible times of the year here in southern Utah. You may never again get to see the ephemeral waterfalls, the lightning shows, a rainbow over the cliffs of Zion, or experience the smell of the desert after the rain!

https://ziongrapevine.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/img_3354.trim_.mov

So enjoy the show, but know before you go! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Fourth of July in Springdale, Utah – 2018

If you’re going to be visiting Zion National Park this Wednesday, July 4th, you should know about some of the festivities going on in the town of Springdale.

There are no fireworks allowed in Springdale, Zion National Park, or the surrounding BLM land. The nearest fireworks show is located in the town of Hurricane, Utah, which is 22 miles west of Springdale. These fireworks will begin at 10:00pm.

The Zion Canyon Lions Club will be having their annual pancake breakfast:

  • Located on the lawn of the Springdale Elementary school (across from Porter’s)
  • $5 per person age 7 or older – kids under 6 eat for free
  • Pancakes, sausage, ham, watermelon, orange juice, milk, and coffee will be served

Following the pancake breakfast will be the 4th of July Parade.

The parade starts at 9:00am and goes through the center of town on Zion Park Boulevard.

Southwest Utah – Zion National Park Fire Restrictions in Place as of June 1, 2018

*Update 8/18/18 – Many fire restrictions have been lifted due to recent precipitation. Please continue to exercise caution

Here in southwest Utah and Zion National Park, we are experiencing some pretty hot and dry conditions. Because of this, fire restrictions have been implemented as of June 1, 2018.

These fire restrictions apply to all areas of Washington county, Utah – including neighboring counties.

Below is a basicย outline of what you need to know:

Smoking rules –ย Smoking is not allowed in any place except for:ย 

  • An enclosed, private vehicle
  • A private building
    • keep in mind that the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act prohibits smoking inside any buildings with public access, as well as within “25 feet of any entrance/exit, open window, or air intake” on any public buildings
    • this includes smoking of any kind, including e-cigarettes
  • An area with a minimum diameter of three feet of open space cleared down to the mineral soil
    • No smoking on trails

Campfire rulesย Campfires are only allowed:

  • in a pit or solid ring that is at least 18 inches deep into mineral soil, or at least 18 inches in heightfree of roots or any other organic materials
    • depth must be maintained at a minimum of 18 inches by removing ash and debris
    • made of non flammable material
    • that will keep the fuel, coals, and wood contained
    • that will shield any ashes or embers from the blowing wind
  • You can have a well-controlled campfire, following the rules listed above, in developed recreation sites that are maintained by the Fire Agency, such as:
    • campgrounds
    • picnic areas
    • home sites
    • No fires, including charcoal and briquettes, outside of a fire structure in a designated area
      • Running water must be present and immediately available

Additional campfire information

  • Grills and stoves fueled by liquid petroleum are allowed
  • All fires must be at least 15 feet away, in any direction, from structures or combustible vegetation
  • All fires must be attended at all times by one person who is at least 18 years old
  • Keep a dedicated, standard size shovel available to suppress the fire
  • Whenever a fire is unattended, it must be completely extinguished and cold to the touch
  • No burning weeds, limbs, or other debris
  • No using or discharging fireworks or explosives

Anyone who is found to be responsible for unattended campfires or fires that have gotten out of control will be responsible for suppression costs and may be prosecuted.

Remember, as the old clichรฉ saying from Smokey the Bear goes, “only YOU can prevent forest fires!”

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Wildcat Canyon – A Secret Gem of Zion National Park

The Wildcat Canyon Trail is a breath of fresh air!

Every year Zion National Park sees more and more visitors.

It’s gotten to the point where there are long lines just to get on a shuttle to go to your hike in the main canyon!

In 2017, Zion saw a whopping 4.5 million visitors ๐Ÿ˜ฎ, and that was apparent to anyone who hoped to enjoy the serenity and tranquility that seems synonymous with the name “Zion”.

I for one am not a fan of hiking in single-file lines with a bunch of strangers who lack common courtesy.

I much prefer to hike the back country of Zion where you can get the experience of Zion National Park, without all the crowds.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to advertise these back country hikes so much as I am trying to educate people about their existence.

There are some pretty spectacular scenes that are missed because these hikes lack the convenience of the main canyon.

For those who want to try something a little different and are willing to deal with the coordination efforts involved, the Wildcat Canyon Trail on the Kolob Terrace section of Zion National Park, is a great change of pace.

We went this past Mother’s Day weekend. The weather was in the low 40 degree Fahrenheit range – and it felt COLD!

It even rained on us a bit. But the beauty of it was that we saw only 4 other ‘groups’ of hikers during the 5 miles that preceded the intersection of the Subway top-down trail & the Northgate Peaks trail.

It was very peaceful and was like taking a hike in the ‘woods’.

The tricky part was coordinating the pickup and drop off part of the trip.

Luckily for me, I live here, so I just had my dad pick us up from the Wildcat Canyon trail head and drop us off at the West Rim Trail trail head.

From there we hiked the 6 miles, one-way, back to our car at the Wildcat Canyon trail head.

For those who don’t have it so easy, you could schedule a shuttle service to drop you off at one of the trail heads and leave your car at the other.

If you’re feeling up for it, you could drop your car off at one of the trail heads and hike in and then back out again.

This is a moderate hike, and I would feel comfortable taking kids along.

There are no dogs allowed on this trail, however.

I would recommend in the summer months to be cautious of rattlesnakes ๐Ÿ (but I feel that way about any of the hikes in our area).

Also be aware of your surroundings and watch for other wildlife. ๐Ÿฆƒ ๐Ÿฟ ๐ŸฆŒ ๐Ÿ† (let’s assume that last emoji is a mountain lion)

Enjoy this gorgeous hike, where you can see incredible canyon views, smell the clean mountain air, see mountain springs and wildflowers ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒผ, and enjoy some of the actual peace and serenity that one should be able to experience in Zion National Park.

Zion National Park – Ride with a Ranger Interpretive Shuttle Tour Information

Ride with a Ranger Interpretive Shuttle Tour in Zion National Park

Visitors to Zion National Park who want to enjoy the educational experience of learning more about the Park’s flora, fauna, and geology, should consider taking part in Zion’s Ride with a Ranger program.

Those who are interested can sign up, in person, at the Zion National Park Visitor Center’s information desk, from 24 hours up to 3 days in advance.

The free tours are given daily throughout the season from 9am-11am. Each tour takes approximately 90 minutes.

What to know if you want to join the Ride With A Ranger Interpretive Shuttle Tour:

  • Tours are free
  • Tours are offered daily, in season
  • Hours are between 9am and 11am
  • Must sign up in person
  • Sign up 24 hours to 3 days in advance
  • Go to the information desk at the Zion National Park Visitor Center to sign up
  • Tours take approximately 90 minutes
  • Groups must be 8 people or less

Additional Ranger-led programs are available throughout the season. For additional information, see the Zion National Park Spring 2018 newsletter, here.

ranger led programs

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!

Desert Wildflowers in Bloom in Southern Utah

๐ŸŒต๐ŸŒบ๐Ÿ˜

It’s that time of year again!

The wildflowers in the desert are in bloom and I, for one, am very excited about it! ๐Ÿ˜€

If wildflowers make you as happy as they make me, now’s the time to come and see them in Southern Utah.

These beauties are currently in bloom in the foothills surrounding the town of Virgin, but I’m certain they can be seen on many of the hikes in Zion National Park.

(Above image: prickly pear)

(Above image: cliffrose)

(Above image: Indian paintbrush)

(Above image: orange globe mallow)

(Above image: indigo bush)

(Above image: Gueldenstaedtia verna)

Enjoy the beauty all around us and don’t forget to take the time to stop and smell (or at least look at) the flowers! ๐Ÿ˜Š