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!

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