Zion National Park
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Incredible desert canyons offer miles of hiking and intense climbing.
Relevant Guidebooks & Maps
Local topo maps (there is no climbing guidebook currently)
Take I-10 east to I-15 north. From Vegas take I-9 east to the park road. The drive is about 7.5 hours.
Zion is famous for its amazing sandstone walls towering above narrow canyons. The Narrows brings the canyon walls within feet of each other. Hiking in Zion is very weather dependent. The Narrows is closed whenever rain threatens because the whole section becomes white water. Campgrounds in the canyon provide drinking water and restrooms for $7 a night, but can be full much of the time. The visitor center issues wilderness permits which are required. The rangers are extremely helpful and can give advice on which trails are best in the current weather. Topo maps are also available at the visitor center. Last minute supplies can be purchased at the town just outside of Zion.
Backpacking: OTL members Meg Moser and Tasha Macilveen recommend the East Rim Trail for a scenic, moderate 1-2 day pack. The trail is low-use and is a great place for quiet and solitude. After an 800 ft elevation gain and 5.6 miles Staves Springs is reached - a good place to camp and to filter water. From Staves numerous day hikes are available to Deertrap Mtn., Cable Mountain, or Weeping Rock (an alternate starting location). The hike provides close-up views of Zion's amazing geology and overlooks into Zion Canyon.
For a longer but relaxing 3-4 day trek, try starting at the Wildcat canyon trailhead and descend towards Angels Landing. Remember to get permits well ahead of time. This trail is highly recommended during the fall when the leaves illuminate the canyons and plateaus.
The West Rim is quite a climb but worth every step. Campsites are reservation only, so check with the Backcountry Office before you plan your trip, but the sites are well-established and have the most spectacular views. You can go out to Angel's Landing on the way up or down as it's right on the way.
Day Hikes: The Narrows is a slot canyon that you can hike up and back down for a day hike. Because it's so narrow, you have to walk in the water, which can be very cold. I recommend renting equipment from Zion Adventure Co. They give you special shoes (which help a ton in staying stable on the slippery rocks), a walking stick, and safety information. The hike can be as far as you want it to be, because you just turn around and go back down, but the coolest part, called "Wall Street" is about 3 miles up and you should make sure to at least make it this far. Do remember, though, that you'll move much slower than regular hiking, so keep that in mind as you plan your day.
Climbing: Zion is famous for cracks that continue for thousands of feet. The climbing is serious and involves aiding on most routes. There is currently no guidebook, although topos for climbs can be scrounged up.
The closures of The Narrows and other areas are not just "precautionary measures". Do not hike these areas when closed. The weather can change quickly, especially on hikes that change altitude. Bring a method of water purification. The park does not offer rescue service.
Also, thousand-foot drops abound in Zion, especially if you're hiking on the rims or Angel's Landing. Watch your footing.
Edited by (in order): OTL Staff, Danielle Joseph, Courtney Hamilton
Last updated: 11/13/2010