(this is mostly oriented towards technical canyoneering, but some applies to Zion hiking too)
"It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future." - Yogi Berra
Raining and snowing in Mt Carmel again, this week. Brought to mind the previous super-snowy year which led to some mayhem and disappointments. When will the southland come "into condition" for canyoneering, and what should people expect?
A lot depends on the speed and timing of the warming cycle, but I think this early we can make some Wild Ass Guesses, unencumbered by facts...
I would expect all canyons to rather wet this spring. I am hoping that places that rarely fill up will find the melting cycle sufficient to put water in many potholes that are usually dry or dryish. Such canyons as Knotted Rope, Quandary and the Squeeze in the Swell could be great fun this spring.
Many of the canyons on "the circuit" do not hold water much, and thus will be in normal conditions unless the spring is rainy too, and then they usually take about a week to dry out. I'm thinking the Leprechauns, Hogs and Shenanigans here. Seems like Trail, Maidenwater and Merry Piglet could have cold swims quite far into the spring. Pandora fits the earlier category, though it is up high, and that one pool can hold water quite a ways into the spring. Bluejohn is likely to have a long cold swim after the only mandatory rappel in the East Fork. By doing the Squeeze fork, one avoids the rappel, but still gets to enjoy the swim.
Neon and Choprock are likely to be full full full and wet wet wet. Choprock could be very difficult AND extremely cold - I would expect summer conditions in that area to re-establish itself only in middle June or so.
Zion is likely to be in the grasp of 'winter' well into June. Lots of snow up
there in the high country, I'm thinking about July 4th weekend for the Narrows to open, and for the canyons that go into it to be available, such as Imlay, Orderville and Mystery. The North Fork Road should be on a normal schedule - and therefore become passable about May 15th? Might be a good boating season in the Narrows, if the road becomes passable while the river is still up.
Canyons in Zion will vary with altitude as to when they become "normal". South facing, small basin canyons like Fat Man's Behunin and Spry will likely see a lot of traffic. The Subway is likely to be running hard (as in, too high) for two or three weeks in the later April / early May timeframe. Echo will likely be entertaining as an extreme snow climb well into June, but not really as a casual beginner canyon until July 4th weekend, if then. Engelstead seems to be a good choice even with snow in it. Kolob unlikely until middle July. Boundary might be awesome in June, excellent in July.
Those are my predictions - what do other people think?