Planning a visit to Zion National Park this Fall? While it’s a great season for a visit, you’ll want to pack a few essentials if you want to stay warm, dry, and comfortable while hiking and enjoying the park. Keep reading to learn more
Layer, Layer, Layer
Summer may be over, but it takes a while for the warmer temperatures to begin to ebb in Zion National Park. In early Fall, daily highs can reach 89 degrees Fahrenheit. By late Fall, it’s dipped down to 62 degrees Fahrenheit.
Even though it may be warm most days, changes in weather patterns can cause early cold temperatures in the park. And the daily high applies only to the middle of the day; early and late in the day, it can get much cooler, with an average daily low in the 30s by the end of Fall.
The best tip you can follow is to dress in layers during your visit to Zion. That way you can stay warm early and late in the day or when hiking in higher altitudes, then shed layers during the middle of the day when the temperature rises.
Sturdy Hiking Boots are Always a Must
No matter the time of year you choose to visit the park, a sturdy pair of hiking boots is always a must. Your boots should have a solid, non-slip sole to keep you steady on slick rocks. If you’re going to be hiking steep or rugged trails, you’ll want ankle support to prevent injuries. Waterproof or at least water-resistant material will help keep your feet dry and warm. Finally, your boots should be broken in; nothing puts an end to a fun hike faster than blisters!
Skip the Cotton
Have you ever heard the phrase, “cotton kills?” Hikers and runners alike will tell you that cotton is the last textile you want to wear when you’re heading outdoors in cooler temperatures. Cotton absorbs liquid like a sponge. So when you’re hiking up steep trails, the sweat will collect in your clothing and stay there. When the weather gets cold, this means that your clothing is saturated and no longer shielding you from the elements. In extreme circumstances, this can lead to hypothermia. In the best-case scenario, it will leave you chilled and uncomfortable.
Instead of cotton, opt for synthetic, wicking fabrics. A base layer thermal will wick sweat off your skin, while outer layers like fleece and down will insulate you, keeping you warm. It’s not just your shirts and pants that shouldn’t be cotton either; your socks should also be synthetic or wool to keep you warm even when wet.
Down Coats Make Great Transition Pieces
There are plenty of materials that make great outer layers. But during warmer days in the park, a down jacket is a great choice. Down is great for staying warm without adding bulk and weight. And when you’re not wearing them in the warmth of the day, you can easily roll them up and stuff them in your daypack so you won’t have to tote them down the trail.
Always Bring Extra Socks
Sweat, rain, or river crossings like on The Narrows trail (more on that in a moment) can leave you with wet, uncomfortable feet. If you’re wearing wicking socks that aren’t cotton, they’ll help keep you dry and comfortable, but that only goes so far. Changing your socks once or twice a day during lengthy hikes will help keep your feet dry, warm, and comfortable.
If You’re Hiking the Narrows, Bring a Change of Clothes
The Narrows is one Zion’s most popular–not to mention most beautiful–hiking trails. But one of the features that make the trail so unique can also make it dangerous during cooler months. During the hike, you’ll have to walk or wade through shallow water. During the summer months, the heat will help you dry quickly. However, in the Fall, cooler temperatures mean that you’ll be stuck in cold, wet clothes for the rest of the day.
To prevent this, pack a change of socks, shoes, and pants if you aren’t able to roll yours up while crossing through the water. That way if the day turns cool after your hike, you’ll be able to change and go right back to enjoying your time in the park.
The Right Day Pack Can Make or Break a Trip
While it may not be a clothing item, your choice of a day pack is important. Even if you aren’t staying on a trail overnight, a backpack is a must. Inside, you’ll want to pack a first aid kit, extra water, and those extra socks or clothes. Make sure to choose a pack that’s comfortable, with padding on the straps and wicking material on the back to keep you from overheating.
Planning Your Fall Visit to Zion
Fall is a wonderful time to visit Zion. The summer temperatures and crowds are finally subsiding. Monsoon season is over, but most years, snowfall hasn’t begun. And with a little smart packing, you can stay warm, dry, and comfortable on some of the park’s most rugged trails.
Want to know which season is the best for planning a visit to the park? Check out this guide next!