a VirtualTourist member from Houston
Does Zion really get as packed and crowded during holidays particularly around Labor Day as they claim on nps.gov? Does anyone know if it's totally hopeless to try and get backpacking permits the day before for popular treks such as The Narrows? Do the park campgrounds get all booked up as well? any chance of getting a camping spot once there, with no reservations? i would've booked online if there was anything available. i know though they hold some amount of permits/camp sites for walk-ins. How early should one actually "walk in" to the park in order to have a chance of getting anything (backpack permits, etc.)?
> Does Zion really get as packed and crowded during holidays particularly around Labor Day as they claim on nps.gov?
I was up there a couple of years ago on Labor Day and, yes, it was very, very crowded. Since everything is controlled and you have to use the shuttles, it's not as bad as it could be. You basically see waves of people as everyone sort of just does the same thing and follows each other, gradually. So, if you strike out on your own or go on the less popular routes, it's not as bad. My suggestion would be to start early, right around sunrise, before the typical park user gets up and eats their terrible motel breakfast.
> Do the park campgrounds get all booked up as well? any chance of getting a camping spot once there, with no reservations? i would've booked online if there was anything available. i know though they hold some amount of permits/camp sites for walk-ins.
If there's nothing available, then nothing's available. You could try to drive up and catch a cancellation, but that's very unlikely. Zion doesn't have much for campgrounds. There are private campgrounds in the area, but many are KOA type places, where you're basically setting up in a parking lot with your tent two feet from an RV.
Yes, I would say that the place will be packed. It's not impossible that you could snag a day-of camping spot but I sure wouldn't count on it. They usually say to be at any of the parks very early in the morning (I would say Friday morning of that weekend - thursday would be even better) to try and grab anything that comes up but it's a risk.
Otherwise, I'd try and book something at the private campgrounds they list on the NPS site:
I know it's not probably what you want to do but if desperate to camp ANYWHERE in the general National Parks area, give Kodachrome Basin State Park a shot? It's up near Bryce - nice place.
I would for sure call to see about campsite openings, though - Labor Day weekend fills campsites everywhere.
thanks so much for your replies nonetheless! permits are still available for East Rim treks, i hesitated before but you replies have pushed me to book online, just in case. Thanks again guys!
Good idea - I think you'll be glad you did. And you can do a significant piece of the Narrows without a permit. You only need one of those for trekking end-to-end with camping in between. If water levels are tolerable and no storms are in the forecast, be sure and do that one. It's about 4 and 1/2 miles or so to the point that they ask day-hikers to turn around. And, of course, there is always Angles Landing - no permit needed for that either, if you have the stomach for it.
typo - arg:
Angels landing? absolutely! as for The Narrows, day hike is definitely an option now, it's just I can already see huge crowd of people elbow pushing each other in the narrows of the slot canyon :).... *sigh*, i'm not being fair, everyone has just as many rights to be there as me
Here's the deal with the Narrows: go first thing in the morning. You probably won't encounter anyone but some serious hikers at that hour. It was when we were coming OUT in the afternoon (we spent quite a lot of time in there just hanging out and taking pix) that we ran into the hordes of the uninitiated picking their way gingerly through the rocky river with shoes hanging about their necks. I'll bet most of them never made it 'cause they were woefully ill-equipped. Most of them had no idea that it was 3 miles to Wall Street (the narrowest part).
If water levels are high enough, you might have to swim a few small parts - that ALSO keeps the riff-raff out. But DO check with the rangers on weather before venturing in? Nasty place to get caught in a flash flood. And if you need a waterproof pouch for your gear, rent one at Zion Adventure company in Springdale.
By the way, my Homepage photo was taken in the Narrows. :)
my hopes are up once again! do you think it's possible to do The Narrows and Angels Landing in one day? first half day - Narrows, second - Angels landing? i know i know, steep trail, i may not make it out of there by dark....but seriously, 12-15 miles a day - totally doable hike, no?
It would be a bit of a push but doable depending on your ability. The problem with Angel's is, again, the crowds. It's very narrow in places on the last 1/2 mile - some people going one way have to wait for people coming back the other way. It's also shadeless so could be really hot, and wind can be a problem - not sure I'd do it on a very windy day. For sure don't do it on a wet one. Estimates range between 3-6 hours for that hike.
The other problem is that Angel's really should be done in the morning to avoid the heat. But then you'll end up dealing with the hordes in the Narrows in the afternoon. Ideally, I'd do one on one morning and one another morning. The light in the Narrows is great when the sun is overhead (closer to midday) and illuminates the walls.
Coming out of the Narrows will be faster than going in as you'll be walking with the current instead of against it.
Hey again - hoping you come back...
If you're interested, here's a really good forum on Zion hiking. Just click on the calendar to see postings in 2011 by month. The folks are talking about all sorts of great hikes they did, recommendations, current conditions, etc. Scanning through some of the previous years' posts may turn up some useful info as well.
If it is a hot day you don't want to do Angel's Landing during the middle of the day, so do it first if you want to do both that and the Narrows. I would not have been able to do both in one day, but someone in good shape could. If one the other hand you start the Narrows early then and at the end of the day have more energy you could try Angel's landing in the late afternoon. Very few crowds that time of day. The day I sat up at Scout's lookout waiting for hubby the crowds had gone by about 3:30 .
I agree that once you get past the first mile or so of the Narrows hike you will leave most of the people behind.
As far as camping, on a holiday weekend even the first come first served will probably be gone by Thurs morning, with everyone staying the whole weekend, so not great hope there.
I was there last during a very busy day, but was too excited and enjoying what I was doing. The only time I really noticed the crowds was waiting at the shuttle stops.
i am checking out this link right now. between Angel's and Narrows i choose the latter so this is a priority for a day hike, then if we feel like it and if it's not scorching sun, maybe we'll do Angel's. Thanks God, i already have permit reservation for East Rim trail, we'll have somewhere to camp and hike. Thanks you guys!!