South Ariel Peak
Exploring South Ariel Peak With intent to do some exploring on Sunday the 2nd of December 2007 in Zion National Park, Tanya, Tim Tabor from St. George and myself chose a beautiful line up the sandstone slab of an unnamed peak, just south of Aires Butte and west of Keyhole Canyon located on the east side of Zion National Park. This area the last few years has been where many Bighorn Sheep have been spotted and we were lucky enough to see one single Ram.
The east side of the park is stunning from the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway, but when you get up high it is utterly spectacular. The mountain we were on was void of much color at the top but all around us were red stripped sandstone, perhaps more vivid than usual because it was wet from storms the two days previous.
The small pull-out where you can park to do this hike is located 2 miles east of the small tunnel. It is large enough for 3-4 cars and is on on the south side of Route 9 at the end of Keyhole Canyon.
South Ariel Peak
The small caprock peak is visible from Route 9, at the parking area for Keyhole Canyon. Looking north, Jughandle Arch is visible as well.
Reason for Choosing this Peak
Due to the snow on both Friday and Saturday and the northern and western slopes many of the dome shaped peaks were blanketed, so our options were to remain on the eastern and southern slopes that had very little if any snow remaining.
We began at the parking area described above and crossed the road to the north. We pretty much made a bee-line up the slab toward the summit. Total elevation gain to the summit was around 700'.
The route we followed put us on the ridge line, 30 metres north of the actual "cap" summit. We found the hike to be mostly 2nd and 3rd class scrambling with some very short sections of 4th class, however the rock was wet in many places, which made the normally easy friction scrambling a bit unnerving at times, but with a bit of short-rope method, we all were able to achieve the snow covered summit ridge. The 2.5 metre boulder problem to arrive at the summit was testy to say the least! The plated, snow covered soft sandstone required a spot from below, and short-rope belay from above. Once on top of the actual summit after less than 1/2 mile of scrambling, the views were outstanding. For a relatively easy hike that can be done in just a couple of hours, the rewards are Grand!
I would recommend this hike be done in dry conditions. It consisted of mostly 2nd class scrambling with a bit of 3rd class and very short sections of 4th class toward the summit ridge and a short boulder problem (4th class) to access the summit.
Gear: Good sticky rubber shoes, a short 25' piece of rope or webbing to belay those less surefooted and a camera of course!
Red Tape and More Info
There is no red tape other than the park entrance fee.
America the Beautiful Pass and Fees
$80 (annual) Pass to "all" public lands (Does not really seem to be all though, but it's a good pass to most things.)
Private Vehicle $25 (7 days)
Zion Park Pass $50 (annual)
Pedestrian/Bike $12 (7days)
Oversized Vehicle Fee (2 times /7days)
Backcountry Permit: $10
If you are bringing a camper or bigger into the park you need to know that there is a $15 (good for 2 trips in 7 days) escort fee for anything 7'10" wide and/or 11'4" tall or larger.
Camping and Lodging
Campgrounds Inside the Park
The Watchman Campground is near the south entrance of the park and is open year-round. Sites are given on a first come, first use basis November through March. Reservations can be made during the rest of the year. $16 per site without electric hookups, $18 per site with electric hookups, and $20 per site for river sites. Reservations: 877-444-6777
The South Campground is also located near the south entrance and is open March through October. All sites in the South Campground are first-come, first serve. $16 per site, per night.
Both of these campgrounds provide restrooms, picnic tables, RV dump, drinking water and utility sinks. There are no showers.
Free Camping near Zion
Mosquito Cove, located between mile markers 23 and 24 on the south side of Highway 9, south of Springdale. Also you can probably camp on the BLM land around Eagle Crags.
Tsunami Java & Juice - Springdale
Zion Rock & Mountain Guides -Springdale
Zion Food and Lodging
Food and Lodging - NPS Site
Informative Links about Zion National Park
East Zion Tourism Council
National Park Service
Springdale Chamber Commerce