Nov 29, 2018

A short-list of big items needed to have the best camping trip ever in southern Utah


Despite it’s sublime desert locale and soul-charming, metaphysical appeal, a hiking vacation at Zion National Park is not without its challenges.

From arid, sweat-sapping heat to gusts of biting fall cold, deciding what to bring when hiking in Zion isn’t always a walk-in-the-park kind of decision.

But, plan it right, and you’ll never be unprepared to take in everything this wonderful wild place has to offer. Here’s your list of “5 must-haves” for a trip to southern Utah’s most visited national park.

  1. Wind/Rain Jacket
    Even when it’s hot, stuffing a lightweight wind/rain-shell into your daypack will pay off when the breezes pick up high on Observation Point, or when capturing the sunset from the cottonwood-lined view at Canyon Junction.
  2. Back-up Mobile Power
    Picture after picture, video after video, Zion makes it really hard to restrain from capturing what’s around you. All that snapping and sharing saps power quickly, especially as phones strain to find signals. Remember to keep that battery in the green, because even a minor ankle sprain can mean hours of rescue time, and it’s not always easy for rangers to locate visitors who need help.
  3. Actual Hiking Shoes
    Sure, your sneakers may be comfortable, and those urban commuter chukkas may look the part, but when it comes to tackling the trails, cactus, and sandstone of Zion National Park, you’ll need something built for the job. You can always don your cushy flops when back in Springdale, toasting the day at Zion Pizza & Noodle.
  4. Salt & Sugar
    No, it’s not the name of a comfort food blog, but salt and sugar sure can help you make it through the day. Always bring a few snacks that have plenty of sodium to help you replace what the wind and sun zap from you. The sugar gives you the carbs and energy kick to get you around the next switchback. You can find plenty of both in healthy combos, such as Snickers® or chocolate-covered pretzels. Fruit, nuts, peanut butter, and jerky are also smart, packable options for trail fuel.
  5. Sun-Smarts
    It’s going to take more than sunscreen. Southern Utah is the desert, and that means more sun than clouds, pretty much year round. Don’t rely only on SPF. When hiking in Utah, wear hats and long-sleeves, and take breaks in the shade. The sun does more than burn, so make sure you’re ready for it, regardless of time of year.

Bonus Item: Respect
In recent years, Zion National Park has become one of the most visited in the system, and resources to handle maintenance, safety, and guest traffic are wearing thin. Always do your part by understanding Leave No Trace ethics when on a hiking trip in Zion, which include staying on trails, limiting noise, enjoying wildlife from a distance (even squirrels), camping where you should, disposing of (human) waste properly, leaving what you find, and being properly prepared for the conditions of your visit.

For more information on how to best plan and prepare for a Zion National Park hiking vacation, visit Wildlandtrekking.com


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