Zion is for Adventurers

Apr 13, 2016
By: Ann Whittaker

Itinerary for Weekend Warriors

Hard core? Pshaw. Of course you are. You consistently pull up to camp at 1:00 a.m. because you were busy being awesome in the city, and got outta dodge as soon as you could pack up your super organized gear bins in the back of your Tacoma truck. Boom. Adventure no. 34 of the year has commenced.

Zion is epic. You're epic. It's sorta the perfect match. Climbing, biking, running and slack-lining extravaganzas are in order.

*Note: adventure is for families. Bring yer teenagers who think nature is boring and prove them wrong. So wrong.

Mystery Canyon into the Virgin River Narrows, Zion National Park

NIGHT ONE:

Travel: Thursday night arrival because you'll get a campsite before the other weekenders show up

Salt Lake City to Zion: 4 hours 23 minutes, 308 miles
Las Vegas to Zion: 2 hours 33 minutes, 160 miles

BASECAMP OPTIONS IN ZION:

CAMPGROUNDS (because you don't want to miss the stars, and you prefer to wake with the rising sun warming up the inside of your tent):
Smithsonian Butte Campground (Primitive)
The Watchman Campground
Lava Point Campground

LEAVE NO TRACE. Alright? Keep these places clean, people. We really, really, really love our state and all its pretty places.

MOTELS (because you like to shower after playing in the dirt, and your back ain't what it used to be):
Canyon Ranch Motel
Pioneer Lodge
Driftwood Lodge

CABINS (because you like some peace and quiet, and pretending that you don't actually live in the city):
Arrowhead Country Inn & Cabins

LUXURY (because you might just want to sit in the hot tub every evening and order up a massage after a day of canyoneering):
Desert Pearl Inn
Cliffrose Lodge & Gardens
Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

DAY ONE: CANYONEERING MYSTERY CANYON

Mystery Canyon, Zion National Park

First things first: you need a permit. You can apply for an advance lottery permit here. Or you can take your chances with the last minute drawing application (taken between 2 days and 7 days in advance). Only 12 hikers allowed in each day.

CHECK THE WEATHER FOR FLASH FLOOD WARNINGS

Time commitment: 5 - 8 hours (average time is 8 hours)

Gear List:
• Helmet
• Webbing + rapid links
• Rope (140' and a pull chord of equal length or 2 -140' ropes) - longest rappel is 135'
• Harness
• Descending equipment
• Emergency ascending equipment
• Emergency overnight gear
• WATER. Lots of it.

APPROACH + DISTANCE:

Option 1: East Mesa Trail | 6 miles
You'll need a high-clearance 4WD vehicle for this approach. If the road is wet, it may be impassible.

Option 2: Weeping Rock Trailhead | 7.5 miles

Learn more about Mystery Canyon.

WANT A GUIDE?
Zion Ponderosa Guides & Outfitters
Paragon Adventure Guides & Outfitters
ALTERNATE CANYONS:
Orderville Canyon
Hidden Canyon
The Subway
The Narrows
Keyhole Canyon

DAY TWO: CLIMB MOONLIGHT BUTTRESS

 

Moonlight Buttress is one of Zion's most classic climbing destinations. Located on the left side of Zion Canyon just after Angels Landing, and has all the pretty views.

The Routes:

The Moonlight Buttress (Clean Aid): 5.8 C1, Trad, Aid, 10 pitches, 1200'
Lunar Ecstasy: 5.10 C2+, Aid, 9 pitches
Sheer Lunacy: 5.11 C1, Trad, Aid, Grade IV
Sheer Lunacy (Free): 5.12b, Trad, 8 pitches, 800'
The Moonlight Buttress (Free): 5.12+, Trad, 10 pitches, 1200'

(Info provided by Mountain Project)

CONSIDER THIS:

• Get started early in the morning before it gets hot on those sandstone cliffs.
• You have to ride the shuttle up Zion Canyon April - September.
• Be courteous to other climbers--this is a popular area...for good reason.
• You don't need permits for day climbing. If you plan an overnight trip up the sandstone, you'll need to get a permit.
• Plan on staying the night on a portaledge if you're a slow climber--which means you'll need a permit.

DAY THREE: MOUNTAIN BIKE GOOSEBERRY MESA

North Rim Trail on Gooseberry Mesa just west of Zion National Park, Utah

Are you tired? Heck no! Weekend Warriors gotta pack it in, amiright? Hopefully you were able to fit all your gear in your Tacoma truck--pro packing to the max. On your last day, you'll want to hit the trails at Gooseberry Mesa, just outside of Zion, to mix things up a bit.

Now you can plan to go back again and again doing the same rad activities in Ye Olde Zion National Park:
Day 1 - Canyoneering
Day 2 - Climbing
Day 3 - Mountain Biking

Read more about Zion National Park


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