Plan Ahead and Prepare
Traveling into the wilderness, even on short trips, can be challenging and risky and requires careful planning before you begin. Your safety depends on your own good judgement, adequate preparation, and constant observation. Speak with park rangers at park visitor centers or visit the links below for current conditions, weather forecasts, and flash flood potential ratings.
All narrow canyons are potentially hazardous. Flash floods, often caused by storms miles away, are a real danger and can be life threatening. By entering a narrow canyon you are assuming a risk.
If you observe any of these signs, seek higher ground immediately. Even climbing a few feet may save your life. Remain on high ground until conditions improve. Water levels usually drop within 24 hours. Flash floods do occur in the park during periods of low flash flood potential. A moderate or higher flash flood potential should be a serious cause for concern.
You will encounter wildlife while in the wilderness. Be aware that wild animals can be unpredictable. Do not approach or attempt to move sick or injured wildlife. Please report any encounters with aggressive, sick, or injured animals to a park ranger.
Falls from cliffs on trails have resulted in deaths. Loose sand or pebbles on stone are very slippery. Be careful of edges when using cameras or binoculars. Never throw or roll rocks, as there may be hikers below you. Trails can be snow and ice covered in winter.
The desert is an extreme environment. Carry enough water, one gallon per person per day, and drink it. Water is available at visitor centers, campgrounds, and the Zion Lodge. Water flow at natural springs can vary, check for information at visitor centers. Do not drink untreated water. Water collected in the wilderness is not safe to drink without treatment.
CDC Guide to Water Treatment for Backcountry & Travel Use
Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses more fluid than is taken in. Signs of heat exhaustion include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headaches, pale appearance, stomach cramps, and cool clammy skin. If a member of your party begins to experience any of these symptoms, stop your hike immediately. Find a cool, shady area and rest with your feet up to distribute fluids throughout your body. It is important to drink fluids, but it is also important to eat. Drinking lots of fluids and not eating, while suffering from heat exhaustion, can lead to a potentially dangerous condition of low blood salt. If heat exhaustion symptoms persist for more than two hours, seek medical help.
Hypothermia occurs when the body is cooled to dangerous levels. It is the number one killer of outdoor recreationists, even in summer, and it usually happens without the victim's awareness. It is a hazard in narrow canyons because immersion in water is the quickest route to body heat loss. To prevent hypothermia, avoid cotton clothing (it provides no insulation when wet) and eat high-energy food before you are chilled. The signs of hypothermia include:
If you recognize any of these signs, stop hiking and immediately replace wet clothing with dry clothing. Warm the victim with your own body and a warm drink, and shelter the individual from breezes. A pre-warmed sleeping bag will also help prevent further heat loss.
You can help preserve and protect the Zion Wilderness for future generations by following these regulations and Leave No Trace principles.
Group Size Limits
Leave No Trace
While backpacking in Zion, please show respect for your national park and your fellow visitors by following each of the Leave No Trace principles.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Dispose of Waste Properly
Leave What You Find
Campfires are not permitted in the Zion Wilderness. Use a gas stove to cook.
Pets, bikes, vehicles, discharge of weapons, hunting, and feeding wildlife are prohibited in the Zion Wilderness.
Protect The Wilderness
Wilderness is a rare wild place where one can retreat from civilization, reconnect with the earth and find healing, meaning, and significance. Knowledge, respect, and understanding for these wild and undeveloped places will ensure that they remain spectacular for years to come. To learn more visit the National Park Service Wilderness page and Wilderness Connect.
Last updated: July 21, 2019