Remember the Boy Scout motto? Be prepared! This sage wisdom applies to all aspects of life, but it especially applies to folks who are looking to have the adventure of a lifetime at Zion National Park. Here is some of our best advice to ensure you have the most fun and safest trip possible.
Essentials to Pack:
Shoes: No matter what season, rain or shine, sturdy, waterproof hiking boots with proper ankle support are an absolute necessity. They’ll protect your feet from sharp rocks, stray cactus quills, and give you the traction you need to prevent stumbles along the trail. Many hikes in Zion overlook canyons and have steep drop offs, so you’ll want to be as surefooted as possible!
Food: Depending on the length and strenuousness of the hikes you’re doing; you’ll want to plan to pack a lunch. If you’re doing short, easy hikes (and planning on grabbing lunch in Springdale or at the Zion Lodge) you could get away with packing hearty snacks like pretzels, nuts, or granola bars.
For longer day-long hikes, we recommend packing a lunch with lightweight but nutrient-dense food. Some of our favorite items to pack include sandwiches (a classic PB&J will last most of the day without getting gross), bananas or apples, and trail mix. We also recommend keeping a few protein bars on hand (like Cliff Bars) for a calorie-dense snack later in the day.
Water: No matter how short or easy the hike, you will find yourself in trouble if you’re not properly hydrated. A good rule of thumb is to bring 1 liter (32 ounces) of water for every 2 hours of moderate activity. Adjust this amount depending on the weather — you may need to double your water if it’s hot out, if you’re hiking at a high elevation, or if the hike is strenuous.
Sun Protection: Bring plenty of sunscreen (minimum SPF 30) and a wide brimmed hat. Don’t forget to bring polarized sunglasses for eye protection. The Utah sun is very strong, and you will get burned if you’re not careful. Reapply sunscreen every few hours for optimal skin protection!
Waterproof Gear: If you want to tackle the famous Narrows hike, you’ll need a bit of extra gear. Depending on the time of year, we recommend renting waders and neoprene shoes to hike the Narrows. If you want to bring your phone, camera, or anything that could be ruined by water, consider buying or renting a waterproof case or backpack your items.
Day Pack: For regular day hikes, you’ll want to make sure you have a lightweight and comfortable daypack that fits all of your essentials. For those who want to get high-tech, consider purchasing a CamelBak so you can comfortably carry a large volume of water along with your other essentials.
Portable Phone Charger: A charged cellphone to use to call for help is one of the most important things you can have if you get stranded in the wilderness. Better safe than sorry.
Buddy System: Whether you’re hiking solo or in with a buddy, be sure to let a friend or family member know where you’re going, when you’re leaving, and when you expect to be back.
Plan Ahead: Double check the trail route and potential trail closures using the Zion National Park website, or by using an app like AllTrails. Although Zion is filled with thousands of people daily, every year hikers still get stranded in the wilderness. Always make sure you know where the trail is headed and choose a hike that is within your fitness level and abilities.