We moved the trip earlier by a couple days so my youngest son could come along without missing the first day of his senior year in High School. He loves hiking, especially near or on the water, so I’m sure he’ll have a good time on the Narrows hike. It is likely to be very hot at the end of August, but it seems like the best time to hike the Narrows, which is the main goal or our trip. We are scheduled to be in Zion for 3 nights, but this is mostly to be sure that we get a chance to hike the Narrows. The end of August through September has the lowest rainfall of the year, but if it is threatening to rain hard we may need the additional days. If we are able to hike the Narrows on the first full day, we could just head home after that… mission accomplished; however, if we can find other things to do we may as well take advantage of being in a beautiful place with some time on our hands.
We should have other hikes planned that will work even if it is very hot. So either short hikes, hikes in the shade, or hikes near water. I did the hike to observation point back in the mid-eighties and would like to do that short hike again. A friend who lives in the area has given us some good advice for preparing for Zion and some ideas for the other things we could do if it is as hot as it is likely to be. First we need to be prepared for the heat, and in good shape, including doing some hiking at higher altitude before we arrive. We need to be hydrated and bring plenty of water. Our friend also suggests “The Under the Rim hike from top-down rather than bottom-up, it’s gorgeous and serene with very few people on trail.”
If it is just too hot in Zion to do other things then we could leave Zion for day trips. “Kolob Terrace will be 10-20 degrees cooler than inside Zion. Bryce Canyon is 3 hours away but at 8-9000 feet it’s much cooler too.” Google maps lists the distance between the Parks as 88 miles and a 2 hour drive, but with the drive though Zion it will probably be closer to 3 hours. I’ve never been to Bryce Canyon, so it may be worth the longer drive to see someplace new. If we go up there for the day, a nice moderate hike that gets us into the canyon would be Hat Shop. It takes you to the Under the Rim trail, so we could extend the hike inside the canyon depending on the time we have.
Update: 28 Aug 2012. We are heading to Zion very soon and the weather forecast has been changing significantly every day. A few days ago it looked like we would have weather in the mid-eighties and partly cloudy. Yesterday it was reporting even cooler and a 30% chance of thunderstorms. Today it was back to partly cloudy but reporting temperature forecasts over 100. Luckily I found where some of the variation could come from. Be sure that you are looking at forecasts for the RAWS ZION CANYON UT US, Virgin station and not one of the small towns further west. That station is reporting temperatures in the low to mid-eighties and no rain is forecast for now. The narrows hike should be OK even in the heat, or especially in the heat, but we’re hoping the thunderstorms are not around by the time we get there. For the rest of the trip we will remain flexible!
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Zion National Park (September 2012 – Watchman Campgrounds, Narrows, Zion Lodge – Reservations and Planning)
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