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. 😊

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!

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So enjoy the show, but know before you go! 😉

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.

Wildfires Burning in Southern Utah

*Update 8/2/18 – There are currently no active wildfires burning in our area, though we are seeing a significant amount of smoke from the California wildfires. Please click the link below (in red) to view our current air conditions.

As you may have heard by now, there are several wildfires burning in Southern Utah.

You may be wondering what impact this will have on your travel plans to Zion National Park.

The fires are not in the immediate vicinity, and there are no major travel impacts at this time.

Check here for current air quality conditions.

Wildfires are unfortunately commonplace in the summer months. The majority of these fires are human-caused, so please take a moment to read about the current fire restrictions.

The nearest fires to Zion National Park are as follows: (all currently contained)

  • The West Valley Fire Located near Pine Valley, Utah [approximately 50 miles northwest of Springdale]
    • Burning since Wednesday evening [6/27/18]
    • Has currently burned 11,785 acres as of Saturday [7/7/18]
    • 46% contained as of Saturday [7/7/18]
  • The Black Mountain Fire Located near Minersville, Utah [approximately 90 miles north of Springdale]
    • Burning since Wednesday [6/27/18]
    • Has currently burned 5,988 acres
    • 98% contained as of Tuesday evening [7/3/18] *out, but still managing a few hot spots
  • The Willow Patch Fire Located near Richfield, Utah [approximately 160 miles north of Springdale]
    • Burning since Friday afternoon [6/29/18]
    • Has currently burned 4,788 acres [7/3/18]
    • 60% contained [7/3/18]
    • State Route 24 between the junction of SR 119 to SR 62 is currently closed [as of 5pm, 6/29/18]
  • The Dry Canyon Fire Located near Parowan, Utah [approximately 70 miles north of Springdale]
    • Burning since Thursday afternoon [6/28/18]
    • Has currently burned approximately 23 acres
    • Fully contained as of Saturday evening [6/30/18]

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*Above image – smoke cloud as seen from the town of Virgin on 6/28/18

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*Above photo of the West Valley Fire courtesy of KUTV.com

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 basic outline of what you need to know:

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

  • 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 rules 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 cliché 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 😮, 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 🐍 (but I feel that way about any of the hikes in our area).

Also be aware of your surroundings and watch for other wildlife. 🦃 🐿 🦌 🐆 (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 🌸🌼, 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.

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Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day from Zion National Park!

All these beauties were photographed on the Wildcat Canyon Trail just yesterday.

Gotta love our Mother Nature ❤️