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Zion Narrows in March

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Zion Narrows in March

Postby zachary_dc » Wed Feb 10, 2010 3:56 am

Im headed down to Zion in mid March and I want to hike the narrows from top to bottom spending a night in the canyon if possible.

Has anyone done this in March and if so what was your experience? Any info is greatly appreciated. I realize that conditions change.

Also if you have any other recommendations for things to do that would be great. I am planning on spending about a weeks time in the park, doing some bouldering and hiking.
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Postby Scott » Wed Feb 10, 2010 4:09 am

Zion Narrows is doable in March with a thick wetsuit/dry suit (which can be rented in Springdale), but it is very unlikely that the road to the top will be open since it has been a heavy snow year. It would be better to go from the bottom up and back the same way.

(Robert Lefkow photo):

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Postby cp0915 » Wed Feb 10, 2010 3:45 pm

There's a ton of stuff you could do that time of year:

-You could spend a week just exploring the amazing slickrock terrain on the east side of the park (just off UT-9);

-You've got all the standard trails you could explore, such as the East Rim Trail, East Mesa Trail, West Rim Trail, Coalpits Wash, Chinle Trail, Hop Valley Trail, etc.;

-Quite a few mountain scrambles, like Angels Landing, Lady Mountain, Checkerboard Mesa, Progeny Peak, Cougar Mountain, etc.;

-In Zion Canyon, you can hike up to Emerald Pools, Weeping Rock, Riverside Walk (for the bottom-up Narrows thing Scott mentioned), Pa'Rus Trail, Sand Bench Trail, Canyon Overlook Trail, Observation Point;

-You can explore Clear Creek (on the east side) too.

Tons of stuff, without even visiting the high country (which will probably still be buried under snow)!
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Postby Scott » Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:44 pm

No offense is meant at all, but I must kindly disagree with 1000Pks post.

You may be hard pressed to find stuff to do for a week.


You can spend years there and not see the same thing twice. The park is 229 square miles, which sounds big, but not that big, but there is no such thing as a straight line route.

The two major trails (West Rim/Observation Pt) are easily done in a day or couple hours each.


There are a lot more than "two major trails" in the park, not to mention countless off trail routes.

You might try asking about the Subway and Left Fork, two canyon scrambles


The Subway is the Left Fork, not a seperate route. Also, in March, it's a dangerous place and filled with ice and snow and requires much experience (and equipment) to attempt it at that time of year. Even in May, the canyon can hold significant snow and ice.
Last edited by Scott on Thu Feb 11, 2010 4:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Scott » Thu Feb 11, 2010 1:21 am

But the major sights are few.


Even if you stick only to the official and popular trails, you could easily spend a week there.
The “two major trails” in the park you mention aren’t even the most popular hikes in the park.

The Subway, as I understood it, is a small part of the Left Fork, a sight to see in itself. People enjoy Zion at all times of the year, it just depends on conditions. All or most all Zion trails and hikes are dangerous, two people fell off Angels Landing recently.


Conditions in the Left Fork/Subway in March are always for experts, no matter which year it is. Period. There is no comparison between Angels Landing in March and the Subway in March. Angels landing is at a fairly low elevation and for the most part is a desert hike. The Subway Trailhead is at 7000 feet and since the canyon seldom sees sun it always has snow and ice water at that time of year. Even in July, the water is cold and swimming is always required (at least to complete the hike). In March, the water is deadly unless you have a thick wetsuit/drysuit.

Unless one is an expert in long swims through icewater and ice covered technical obstacles, the only way I would recommend the Subway in March is the partial hike in from the bottom. Even then you would be lucky to even make it to the Subway, though in mild years it can be done.

People love attacking me here as it seems to be what is the thing to do.


I was disagreeing with your information, not attacking you.
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Postby MoapaPk » Thu Feb 11, 2010 2:10 am

OK, CP is too polite, so look at this book:
http://cpinthebackcountry.blogspot.com/ ... es_08.html
...but a lot of those "hikes" may be treacherous in March.

Also explore Bo and Tanya's site for a wide range:
http://www.zionnational-park.com/

A beauty of Zion, is that so few people who visit actually venture off the standard trails... yet access is often so easy to a wild backcountry... a very wild and mercurial backcountry. Sandstone and sleet don't mix.

I don't usually think of that as a bouldering destination.
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Postby zachary_dc » Thu Feb 11, 2010 3:47 am

MoapaPk wrote:
I don't usually think of that as a bouldering destination.


Thanks for the references. I am just going for spring break with my girlfriend and a couple others, none of which are big into climbing, but more so the hiking aspect. I am bringing my shoes just to have if there is some rock available during time not spent hiking or whatever else.

Any recommendations are greatly appreciated. Just looking for things to do in and around the area. I am definitely capable and interested in heading into the backcountry to do any scrambles or hikes. And whatever snow there may be it will be less than what I am used to up here in Duluth, any escape from it is going to be great.

Thanks again for the links.
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Postby Wisdom » Thu Feb 11, 2010 4:41 am

Bring them there and do Angels Landing. It's a good hike for the senses. Then find the Kolob Canyon trailhead and go backcountry for a few days. It's secluded and worthwhile. Just watch out for the horseflies at the start of the hike, they draw blood.
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Postby Scott » Thu Feb 11, 2010 4:57 am

1000peaks, I was just disagreeing with some information presented, not trying to pick a fight or anything. It wouldn’t be worth doing so. Sorry if it sounded like an attack or disrespectful.

Anyway, the Subway is a great hike. It’s one of the best ones in the world and highly recommended. You should do it sometime. March isn’t the best time though, unless you have full wetsuits/drysuits and lots of experience.

I read it as some rope work necessary.


Yes, only a little rope work is required in good conditions. In late May through sometime in October, it’s basically a hike with some good scrambling and a few rappels. As semi-technical canyons go, it’s a pretty easy one (in season).

In winter though, it’s a whole different animal. Even if you are used to climbing snow and ice (I climb mountains year round in -60F windchills), the slot canyons are still really serious propositions in winter. Because the sun doesn’t reach the bottom, but the water still flows and splashes, ice coated walls are a serious problem. Add that to the fact that you might be swimming while busting ice, all while moving slowly (and hopefully restricted in a wetsuit), it’s really easy to have an accident. I winter, swimming through a slot is different from doing cold swim while out on a hike. Winter descents of the Subway have been done, but they are rare. Speaking from experience, I would consider doing wet slots in winter to be much “colder” than say climbing the Colorado 14ers (or even the Tetons) in the winter and certainly much more dangerous.

If it were a different season though, the Subway suggestion is a great one. You should do it sometime. The summitpost information is excellent; better than the info on the NPS site:

http://www.summitpost.org/canyon/366669/the-subway.html

It is not the most challenging canyon, but it is still one of the most fun and certainly the most beautiful I have seen (anywhere in the world) when you consider the beauty per mile ratio of the canyon.

If you come from the bottom though in March, it might be reasonable, but you would also miss some of the best parts. I would highly recommend the Subway as one of the best, if not the best summer/early fall hike in all of Zion. You should do it sometime.

The map they gave out in Sept. 2009 indicates no other trails, than what I said, by my memory. Then they do not want tourists on bc routes.


It sounds like the NPS may have given you bad information. If interested, here are the maps on the NPS site that show the trail options down there. I would definitely recommend spending a week in the area.

Zion Canyon:

http://www.nps.gov/archive/zion/images/ ... yonMap.pdf

Zion NP (most of Zion NP is actually outside Zion Canyon):

http://www.nps.gov/archive/zion/images/ ... ap_web.pdf

For the popular trails (even though crowded), Emerald Pools, Angels Landing (has exposure) and Hidden Canyon Trails shouldn’t be missed. If you haven’t done those, they are good (but crowded) hikes. You can actually go much farther up Hidden Canyon than the "official trail" marked on the map is, but eventually there are scrambling obstacles and you have to be careful. Hidden Canyon can be icy in March though. You Possibly Angels Landing too. Next time you are in Zion outside summer, I would recommend those ones, though it sounds like you’ve already done Angels Landing.

Farther north, I like the Taylor Canyon Trail and the Kolob Arch Trail too. Some people don’t like the Kolob Arch Trail as much, but it’s quite scenic since it passes by so many soaring cliffs. Farther up La Verkin Creek, Beartrap Canyon has a nice waterfall and some nice narrows. March is usually OK for Kolob Arch, but Beartrap is sometimes hard to get to before April. Some people really like the Hop Valley Trail; I think it’s good, but not the best. I like the Deertrap Mountain Trail for its isolation, but for views it isn't any better than the much shorter routes up Obervation Point and Angels Landing.

In winter, the Sand Bench Trail is pretty nice, but I would only recommend it in the winter when the other trails are closed. Coalpits Canyon is another good winter one, but I like the upper canyon the best which is quite a long hike. By April, Northgate Peaks trail is good.

By late spring, the watery hikes are in season (though on occasion the Narrows can be closed due to high water). I would recommend Orderville Canyon, Subway and maybe Right Fork from the bottom (the best parts of Right Fork require ropes to access). Lower Kolob is a good one and is mostly non technical.

Just outside the park is Canaan Mountain which is also worthy of several days (or weeks) of exploration.

Of course, for off the beaten track routes the possibilities are endless, but I guess that’s another topic altogether.

===========================================================

Any recommendations are greatly appreciated. Just looking for things to do in and around the area. I am definitely capable and interested in heading into the backcountry to do any scrambles or hikes.


Also in the area is Red Cliffs and Quail Creek which is worth a stop and a hike:

Image

More info:

http://www.utahoutdooractivities.com/redcliffs.html

Snow Canyon State Park (named for a person, not the cold snow!) is another area woth a visit.

Red Mountain is a great little climb.

And whatever snow there may be it will be less than what I am used to up here in Duluth, any escape from it is going to be great.


In the bottom of Zion Canyon and along the Virgin River and St. Geoge areas, this is true (snow is pretty rare in those places), but the high elevations of Zion get plenty of snow (more than 200 inches a year), so much of it is inaccessible without skis,/snowshoes. Just north of the park, parts of Cedar Breaks and Brian Head get over 400 inches of snow a year.

That said, it is actually worth it to ski to Cedar Breaks in winter if you can swing it (the road is snowbound), but there's plenty to do in the desert as well. Bryce Canyon is also a neat place in winter, but they get quite a bit of snow there too.

You can also head south to the Arizona Strip, but you will have plenty to keep you occupied up around Zion. Valley of Fire is neat too, but is less spectacular than Zion, but is still worth a stop if it's on the way.

I'll be headed down to Zion myself this weekend and can't wait.

Have a great trip.
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Postby cp0915 » Thu Feb 11, 2010 3:00 pm

My head's spinning.

Hey Scott, a funky time to visit Zion. Curious what you're gonna be doing...?
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Postby Scott » Tue Feb 16, 2010 3:51 am

Hey Scott, a funky time to visit Zion. Curious what you're gonna be doing...?


Just got back.

Day 1 we first stopped at Kolob Canyons and then visited the Red Cliffs area west of the park. We checked out Quail Creek and went to some petroglyphs and ruins.

Day 2 we did the Huber Wash/Petrified Forest Loop in the park.

Day 3 we headed for the Snow Canyon area, climbed some of the domes, explored some of the lava tubes, climbed a cindercone and explored some of the slickrock areas.

Day 4 the kids wanted to go back to Quail Creek to show it to their cousins so I let them go there.

I wish we could have done more, but we ran out of time.

It was all perfect weather and a great trip. It's my favorite time of year for the non-tech canyons. I'll have my log updated with photos soon.

I said the West Rim Trail (inc. Angels Landing, actually a side trail if you consider it that) and Observation Point as the two major trails.


What about all the trails in the Kolob Canyons section and Kolob Terrace sections of the park? :?: It takes several days to hike them. Zion Canyon is just a very small section of Zion NP.

There are streamside trails designed for tourists who do not like gain, exposure, steep parts, ambitious adventure (by them) that may be the most popular.


This is true. Emerald Pools is probably the most popular hike in the park (with the possible exception of Weeping Rock) and for good reason. Like all trails in Zion (unless you consider something like Lady Mountain a trail), it is an easy hike and very popular, but it's still a must-do for any first time visitor. The lower waterfalls always flow, but Heaps Canyon has a good chance of flowing in March. The waterfall is well over 400 feet high:

Image

As stated, going to the lower pools is not an adventure, but it's still pretty:

Image

It is quite a short hike though.

Seeing the OP was changed a bit, I was replying to what seems like saying that I am full of baloney.


I changed the original post so it was less confrontational and friendlier (which it should have been in the first place-my fault). I was only responding because I keep seeing a repeating pattern of similar post from you about there being not that much to do/hike/climb in many parts of the Southwest (whether it be Canyonlands, Zion, Sedona or the Southwest in general). I remember you going as far as saying that someone moving to the SW would be “climbed out” after not too long (truth be known that the SW probably has more exposed rock than anywhere in the world and far more variety than about anywhere in the country, glaciated terrain excepted). To me, it would be like me saying, "there isn't much to do in the Sierra Nevada except for Mount Whitney", so don't bother spending much time there. It seems (to me) that you know places like Southern AZ well, but haven’t seen much of the rest of the Southwest, so I was simply disagreeing with your comments. I know I’ve done the same thing on threads (and chastised for it), so it’s not that big of a deal and not worth arguing over. I assume that you were just trying to help the original poster, than that’s just OK. It's good that you are being helpful and heloing out otehr members. That's what the forums are for, so don't take my comments to seriously.

PS, most SP members don’t know or care who/what MLC SC is, so it helps if that weren’t mentioned in so many post.

I guess this thread has taken a serious off-track note though and should have stayed on track.
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