5 Essential Items to Prepare for Zion Weather

April 24th, 2014

Zion National Park ranges in elevation from just under 4,000′ to over 8,700′, and temperatures can be quite different at varying elevations. Zion Ponderosa sits at 6,500′ and is therefore cooler than the bottom of the park, and that is a great thing during hot summer months. The upper areas of the park are part of large plateaus and are less shielded from breezes so during winter, spring, and fall, wind-chill is something to take into consideration.

Zion Hiking

Hiking to upper elevations in Zion National Park.


Layered Clothing:
With exposure to wind, sun, and the rare chance of rain or snow, it is always good to bring along some layers of clothing that can be easily added or removed. Light long sleeve shirts, and zippered leg-pants that turn long pants into shorts, or vice-versa, can be handy. If you intend to be in the water (slot canyons) it is wise to put some articles of clothing in water-proof or zip-lock bags so you’ll have some dry clothing.

Foil blanket and rain pancho

Take these items along every time you hike. They are small, light, and inexpensive.

Rain / Wind Protection: It is wise to include an inexpensive rain poncho, and an emergency reflective foil blanket, as these items are small, light, and always easy to include in a small backpack or waist pack.  These items can be converted into a crude shelter if needed.

Sun hat

Broad brimmed hats give better coverage from sun exposure.

Broad Brimmed Hat: No matter the time of year a hat is always a good item to have along since the skies over Zion are mostly clear, and sun exposure should be anticipated. It’s always wise to include sunscreen for any other parts of your body that will get too much sun exposure.

water bottles

Bring water on every walk or hike.

Water: No matter the time of year, if you are outdoors and walking for any lengthy period of time, you’ll need water. In summer months it is wise to plan on approximately ½ a liter of water for each hour, and depending on your level of exertion you may wish to have more. Water filtration bottles are easy to carry and not a bad idea for emergency situations.

Insulation: If you intend to go into one of the Zion area slot canyons where you’ll be in and out of water, then you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared for water temperatures and sun-shaded canyons. In non-summer months water and air temperatures can be quite cool and you’ll need insulation for your feet, and/or your whole body (wet or dry-suit).

Other items for emergencies: It’s always good to bring a portable first aid kit and some matches or some way to start a fire to keep warm.

7 Surprising Animals You May Not Expect to See in Zion

April 22nd, 2014

Zion National Park has something for just about everyone. And I’m not just talking about humans.

From its arid desert to its lushly vegetated forests, Zion boasts an eclectic mix of animals. There are four different life zones within the park (coniferous forest, woodland, riparian and desert), and each zone contains its own microclimates and habitats for a broad range of animals.

To give you an understanding of what types of animals live in the park, let’s take a look at some of Zion’s full-time residents.

bighorn sheep

Big Horn Sheep

As you look at the side of a dry, rocky cliff, you might notice something moving. Don’t change your contact lenses – you’re looking at a small herd of big horn sheep. Big horn sheep have the ability to navigate seemingly impossible terrain, and they can go for days without water. They are most common on the rocky slopes of the east side of the park (by Zion Ponderosa).

Mexican spotted owl

Mexican spotted owls

All animals in Zion are protected by its National Park status, but the Mexican spotted owl is of special note. Zion offers the perfect habitat for the Mexican spotted owl, a species classified as threatened on the federal level. These nocturnal birds  are “perch and pounce” predators, typically locating their prey from an elevated perch by sight or sound, then pouncing on the prey and capturing it with their talons.

wild turkey

Wild turkeys

Wild turkeys are quite common in the park. There are many of them in Zion Canyon and you don’t have to go too far from the road to spot one of them roaming a grassland area.

bald eagle

Bald eagles

During the winter, bald eagles come to Zion to rest. And I don’t blame them. I think I’d be pretty tired too after flying all the way from Alaska or Canada to Southern Utah, and Zion would be the perfect place to take a break.

desert tortoise

Desert tortoise

If you’re lucky, you may come across a desert tortoise. These rare reptiles are federally protected,and their population is being monitored by park rangers. Although they can live up to 100 years of age, very few of them make it that far because young, slow-moving tortoises are easy prey for ravens, gila monsters and coyotes.

beaver

Photograph by Makedocreative, licensed under CC-ASA 3.0

Beaver

Beavers make their homes along the Virgin River, where they chew on cottonwood trees and build dams.To escape the heat, though, they like to do most of their work during the night, so you may see the remnants of their hard work while they are getting their rest.

gila monster

Photograph by H. Zell, licensed under CC-ASA 3.0

Gila monster

There are 16 species of lizards in Zion. The only one that can potentially harm humans is the gila monster, the only venomous lizard in North America. Although they pack a painful (but not fatal) bite, their sluggish nature keeps them from being too much of a concern.

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These are just a few of the animals that flourish in Zion National Park. More than 78 species of mammals, 291 species of birds, 44 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 8 species of fish coexist within the park. Remember that if you’re lucky enough to see one of these creatures in real life to keep your distance and don’t feed or touch them.

 

Mom’s Retreat – May 16-18

March 12th, 2014

Enjoy a mom’s retreat taking place at Zion Ponderosa – May 16-18 and a family adventure on October 9-12.

Interested in saving $50 on your Weekend Adventure pass? Register by this Friday, March 14, using the code “MomItForwardFriends.” Click here for details: www.familyforward.com

Observation Point- Zion National Park

Observation Point near Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort