Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Winter: The best time to Visit Zion National Park

Expand Messages
  • zion_national_park_hiking
    People don t become captivated by southern Utah, ... by it... It s got an attraction that s difficult to pin down, let alone describe. People tend to think of
    Message 1 of 5 , Dec 3, 2004
    • 0 Attachment
      People don't become captivated by southern Utah,


      ------they become obsessed
      by it... It's got an attraction that's difficult to pin down, let alone describe.

      People tend to think of southern Utah as a land of canyons, and it
      certainly is. But most of the country is taken up by the high plateaus and mesas into which
      the canyons are carved.

      Much of this variety is set aside in Utah's five National Parks: Arches, Bryce Canyon,
      Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion. Each is different, but they share
      one thing in common: The best time to visit them might be the dead of winter.

      Visitation to Utah's five National Parks drops dramatically in the
      winter. Only Bryce Canyon actually caters to winter visitors because its higher elevation
      draws cross-country skiers and snowmobilers, but there's plenty to do at all of the parks.


      You must remember this: The days are short and cool and the nights are
      cold. While much of southern Utah is desert, it's a high elevation desert. Except in the
      extreme southwest corner of the state, overnight temperatures regularly drop into the low
      20s or high teens, and single digit lows are not uncommon. If you intend to hike or make
      camp in the desert during January and February, be sure to bring proper cold weather
      gear.


      "The biggest factor to be aware of is the weather," says Paul Henderson, chief of
      interpretation at Canyonlands National Park."You may have blue sky and
      sunshine, and the sun can be deceptively warm against your skin, but the wind chill
      factor can change things in a hurry."

      Considering that warning, why would anyone want to visit the canyon
      country of southern Utah in the dead of winter?


      "This is an absolutely wonderful time of year to visit," Henderson
      said. "It's pretty quiet, but it's not going to stay that way much longer. By mid-March it
      starts to turn crazy here and it stays that way until fall."


      Henderson's observation holds true for three of the other four National
      Parks in Utah. Arches, Capitol Reef and Zion National Parks see tremendous declines in
      visitor numbers between November and the first part of March.


      Bryce Canyon, which is considerably higher in elevation than the other
      four parks, has long attracted snowmobilers and cross-country skiers, so there's a higher
      level of visitor services available than at its sister parks.


      Although there are opportunities for overnight hikes, bicycle tours or four-wheel drive
      trips, most winter visitors content themselves with day hikes or vehicle tours.


      Short days make for short trips. If you plan on hiking into a canyon, for example, you must
      consider both the temperatures and the daylight hours. The light in early morning can be
      spectacular, but it is the coldest part of the day. Sand and rock absorb cold as well as they
      do heat, so hiking through a narrow canyon before the sun has had a chance to warm it
      can be like moving through a walk-in freezer.


      Better to linger over a cup of coffee and wait a few hours, until 9 a.m. or so, before
      venturing into the country. Plan to make your hikes shorter than you might at other times,
      because the sun will be well on its descent by 6 p.m.

      Keep an eye on the terrain you're crossing, too. A patch of frozen mud you crossed easily
      in the morning may be a quagmire after the sun has warmed it for a couple of hours.


      Ah, but there's real charm to the desert in winter. The scenery is breathtaking. One of the
      most magnificent sights is the contrast between a red rock canyon and the snow-
      blanketed mountains in the distance.


      In a sense, winter turns back the clock on Utah's National Parks. Even in some of the most
      popular places=97 Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, or the Hanging Gardens in Zion,
      you may not see another soul. Campgrounds are open, but they rarely, if ever fill up
      before March. Permits to visit or camp in popular backcountry areas, such as the White
      Rim Trail in Canyonlands are easy to pick up in the winter months.


      "This time of year, just about any campsite is yours for the taking," Henderson
      said."Getting a permit is the least of your worries."


      http://www.gorp.away.com
    • luciantia
      First of all I gotta say that Shane, if that s you in the home page photo you are insane. That s ice man! How do you keep from falling when the ice breaks?
      Message 2 of 5 , Dec 3, 2004
      • 0 Attachment
        First of all I gotta say that Shane, if that's you in the home page photo you are insane.
        That's ice man! How do you keep from falling when the ice breaks?

        Second, I can see getting obsessed about Utah. It's da bomb, but southern Utah in winter
        is not all that great. The trees look dead and there's not enough snow to do much. Hiking
        in the short, freezing days does not seem appealing. What's so great about getting out in
        the parks in the winter?

        --- In Zion_National_Park_Hiking@yahoogroups.com, zion_national_park_hiking
        > People don't become captivated by southern Utah,


        > ------they become obsessed
        > by it... It's got an attraction that's difficult to pin down, let alone describe.
      • Dean
        ... southern Utah in winter is not all that great. The trees look dead and there s not enough snow to do much. Hiking in the short, freezing days does not
        Message 3 of 5 , Dec 3, 2004
        • 0 Attachment
          > Second, I can see getting obsessed about Utah. It's da bomb, but
          southern Utah in winter is not all that great. The trees look dead
          and there's not enough snow to do much. Hiking in the short,
          freezing days does not seem appealing. What's so great about
          getting out in the parks in the winter?<

          It's not necessarily about getting out in the parks, but some of
          them have great winter hiking opportunities. Next to autumn, winter
          is my favorite time in S. Utah. The trees only look dead if you
          spend your time hiking near water, such as in the main area of
          Zion. Getting out into the high desert most of the vegetation is
          sage brush and pinyon/juniper and therefore stays green. The lack
          of snow is another appeal, as is the mild climate responsible for
          the lack of snow. It's not uncommon to have warm, sunny days in the
          middle of February, and without the snow it is easy to stay dry and
          comfortable. The other great thing about winter hiking in the
          desert is the low light angles (you know, the thing that makes the
          days short). Colors are different, shadows are different, and if
          you're into photography, there just seems to be more texture and
          depth to the photographs from the winter time.

          Dean
        • adkramoo
          ... wrote: The other great thing about winter hiking in the ... Dean Bingo!! I second this, especially sunrise and sunset. The world can turn a brilliant fiery
          Message 4 of 5 , Dec 3, 2004
          • 0 Attachment
            --- In Zion_National_Park_Hiking@yahoogroups.com, "Dean" <dkurtz@x>
            wrote: The other great thing about winter hiking in the
            > desert is the low light angles (you know, the thing that makes the
            > days short). Colors are different, shadows are different, and if
            > you're into photography, there just seems to be more texture and
            > depth to the photographs from the winter time.
            Dean

            Bingo!! I second this, especially sunrise and sunset. The world can
            turn a brilliant fiery red, or bask in a gold so rich, you must
            squint. Magic time!
            R
          • luvs_to_hike
            You two are really making me appreciate winter hiking. :)
            Message 5 of 5 , Dec 3, 2004
            • 0 Attachment
              You two are really making me appreciate winter hiking. :)

              --- In Zion_National_Park_Hiking@yahoogroups.com, "adkramoo" <adkramoo@a...>
              wrote:
              >
              > --- In Zion_National_Park_Hiking@yahoogroups.com, "Dean" <dkurtz@x>
              > wrote: The other great thing about winter hiking in the
              > > desert is the low light angles (you know, the thing that makes the
              > > days short). Colors are different, shadows are different, and if
              > > you're into photography, there just seems to be more texture and
              > > depth to the photographs from the winter time.
              > Dean
              >
              > Bingo!! I second this, especially sunrise and sunset. The world can
              > turn a brilliant fiery red, or bask in a gold so rich, you must
              > squint. Magic time!
              > R
            Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.