Zion might not hold the title of the hottest national park in the country. But that doesn’t stop it from experiencing triple digit heat. During the summer months, and particularly late June through August, it’s not abnormal to see temperatures reach 100 degrees. Some days it goes even higher. And that’s just the air temperature. Go rock climbing or hiking in the open with no shade, and it may just feel 10 or 15 degrees warmer.
Whether you think that you are used to these temperatures or not, it’s essential to be prepared. Just because you are accustomed the heat doesn’t mean that you won’t become dehydrated. You may dehydrate faster than you might expect. You also shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking you won’t get a sunburn from staying too long on a trail without reapplying sunscreen. If you aren’t used to hiking in rugged desert conditions or scaling trails that go almost straight up, heat stroke, dehydration, and other conditions may leave you requiring medical help along the way.
If you’re planning a visit to Zion during the summer months, keep reading. We’re bringing you the tips you need to know to stay healthy, happy, and hydrated in and around the park.
Pack More Water than You Think You’ll Need
With everything from smartphone apps to smart watches and even smart water bottles now helping us stay hydrated throughout the day, it might seem like a no brainer to keep drinking during your visit to Zion. But add in increased activity levels, steep climbs, high temperatures, and plenty of distracting views, and you shouldn’t be the least surprised that so many visitors succumb to dehydration in the park every week.
Active, healthy hikers of average build will need to consume about one liter of water every two hours. But that’s just a rough estimate; each person is unique, and every trail has different requirements. For instance, if you are someone who tends to drink more water than most, you might need quite a bit more. If you’re walking a very leisurely, flat trail that is shaded, you might need less. A difficult trail like Angels Landing will likely leave you drinking more than normal as well.
Regardless, its always smart to go ahead and pack more than you expect to use. That way if you get thirstier than you expected or if your hike takes longer than you thought it would, you’ll be prepared.
Spot the Early Signs of Dehydration
If you’re distracted by taking pictures, watching your footing, or just enjoying the view, you may forget to keep sipping your water. Before you know it, the earliest signs of dehydration will begin.
Luckily, if you catch these early signs, you can quickly and easily rehydrate and continue on your way. Ignore the signs and your condition will get worse. Continue to ignore them and you may need medical help to get yourself back to safe, healthy levels.
Early signs of dehydration include:
- Profuse sweating or a sudden increase in sweating
- Feeling more tired than usual
- Abnormally sore feet or limbs
- Red skin
Many of the early signs of dehydration can be easy to overlook, because for most hikers, a variation of these signs occur whether you are dehydrated or not. On a difficult trail, you’ll likely sweat, get tired, feel sore, and get red in the face after just a few miles or more. The easiest way to differentiate between the signs of dehydration and your body simply reacting to a hike is to drink plenty of water. If you know that you are drinking enough and your symptoms don’t go away, they likely aren’t the result of dehydration!
When Dehydration Worsens
Whether you overlook the early signs of dehydration or just can’t keep up with drinking enough water, eventually other signs will start to appear.
The first signs of dehydration will begin to worsen. Most people will begin to sweat profusely. Although some individuals will instead stop sweating, despite being hot and tired or out in the heat. You’ll begin to feel tired to the point of exhaustion, and will likely need to sit and rest. Your feet and limbs may ache, and your skin may become a deep red.
Other signs that will also begin to appear include disorientation and confusion, loss of muscle coordination, or even loss of consciousness. When these signs set in, it’s important to seek medical treatment right away. Simply upping your water intake all at once is not only unlikely to rehydrate you, but could also make you ill.
Beating the Summer Heat in Zion National Park
If you have a trip planned to Zion this summer, its important to be aware of how much water your drinking. It’s also a good idea to learn the signs of dehydration. This isn’t just a threat to hikers either; you can get dehydrated while enjoying overlooks, strolling nature trails, or otherwise wandering the park.
The summer crowds that frequent the park also make dehydration a more serious threat. On busy holiday weekends like the 4th of July and Memorial Day weekend, lines form at several popular trailheads. This leaves hikers standing out in the heat before they ever even start their hike. The summer crowds on trails make it more difficult for medical personnel to get to you should you need help. Don’t let dehydration derail your Zion adventure!