Without water, the incredible formations throughout Zion National Park and the rest of Utah would be nonexistent. The same water that is responsible for creating the beautiful canyons throughout Zion National Park is currently also responsible for making them a dangerous place to hike. Until further notice, due to excessive water levels, The Narrows at Zion National Park will be closed. This is not an uncommon occurrence in the area, and it generally does not last for an extended period of time, but it is important information for all hiker to be aware of.
As the weather warms, the snow in the area begins to melt rapidly. If there is a great deal of melting snow the water is not easily absorbed. This snow melt is then responsible for high waters levels, fast currents, and flooding. Sometimes, a combination of rainfall and snowmelt can affect the Zion area as well as other parks in Utah. This causes waters to rise even higher, and take much longer to subside. Thankfully, this increased water current is due only to melting snow, so the effects of the water should subside more rapidly than with a rain and snowmelt combination.
Currently, the flow of the river is measuring 241 cubic feet per second. This is much more rapid than the 70 to 100 cubic feet per second that is usually experienced. Any time that the current flow goes about 150 cubic feet per second, The Narrows is closed. Once the water subsides to below 150 CFS, it will be deemed safe to travel.
Hiking The Narrows always involves dealing with some degree of water. During the popular hiking season, hikers will encounter knee-deep water at the worst areas of The Narrows. This makes for a slightly difficult passage. This challenge is part of what makes hiking The Narrows so exciting. However, during these times of high water levels, hiking The Narrows could be downright deadly.
All hikers should be aware of the dangers waters can pose when embarking on a hike in Zion. Flash flooding, rock erosion, and unusually strong currents can turn a fun hike into a dangerous situation for even the most experienced hikers. Therefore, it is so important to pay attention to local water level warnings and be sure to heed the posted warnings for every path.
The hiking areas that are affected by this closure include all paths that exit out of The Narrows. It is important for hikers to analyze the route they will be taking to determine if all or part of their trip will be impossible due to this closure. Hikers that are not sure about the path they will be taking should speak with a park official or someone more familiar with the area. This will prevent hikers from finding themselves in a dangerous situation.
The closure of The Narrows does not mean that hikers cannot have a fantastic time at Zion National Park. There are plenty of paths that are still open and provide an unforgettable hiking experience. The beautiful Pa’rus Trail, Riverside Walk, and many others are still able to be accessed. Sticking to these open trails will still provide tons of great hiking without the need to enter The Narrows.
Hikers should never attempt to traverse a trail that has been closed. Even the most experienced hikers can be seriously hurt or killed by trying to hike into an area that is closed. The National Park Service will never close an area of the park without reason, so heeding their warnings is of the utmost importance.
As soon as the cubic feet per second of the current is before 150 for a 24 hour period, The Narrows and all other affected trail areas will reopen. Information about the opening of The Narrows can be obtained on the National Parks Website or by checking local postings. Remember, this increased water level due to snowmelt is, in fact, a good thing. This means that the weather is warming up and Zion National Park is warm enough for outdoor enthusiasts to explore the beauty of this incredible park.
To stay up to date with current conditions in Zion National Park, click here.