Zion West Rim Trail, December 2022

Ellen

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Sep 26, 2022
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3
Planning on a multi night camping trip in Zion on the West Rim trail in December. Is this a bad idea? For some background I am from Louisiana (used to 60 degree temperatures in the winter), however I did Glacier last December.

Hopefully will be able to start at West Rim trailhead and hike to campsite 8, or would it be worth it to keep going to site 6. I have seen several posts about campsite #6 hype. The next day the plan is to head from campsite 6 or 8 to campsite #2. The only thing is that my partner and I don't want to feel rushed. Amateur ish hikers here so if anyone can shed some light on the distance from the trailhead to site 6, from site 6 to 2, and then 2 to the end it would be greatly appreciated! Any other general tips about doing this hike in December?
 
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Yvonne

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Jan 19, 2012
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Planning on a multi night camping trip on the West Rim trail in December. Is this a bad idea? For some background I am from Louisiana (used to 60 degree temperatures in the winter), however I did Glacier last December. No overnight in Glacier but my partner and I enjoyed the snowshoeing aspect and the cold wasn't too bad with the proper gear.

Hopefully will be able to start at West Rim trailhead and hike to campsite 8, or would it be worth it to keep going to site 6. I have seen several posts about campsite #6 hype. The next day the plan is to head from campsite 6 or 8 to campsite #2. The only thing is that my partner and I don't want to feel rushed. Amateur ish hikers here so if anyone can shed some light on the distance from the trailhead to site 6, from site 6 to 2, and then 2 to the end it would be greatly appreciated! Any other general tips about doing this hike in December?
Depending on the snow year, you will have blizzard conditions or just a bit of snow.
You definitely need snow shoes to get to your campsites.
I've done it several times, and my last trip on New Year's Eve was during a blizzard and white-out conditions, and hip-deep snow.
Several people needed to be rescued because they were not prepared for the conditions.
You will start with no snow and then gradually enter the snow, which will get deeper and deeper.
Know how to do camping in the snow and know how to keep yourself warm
 

utahastro

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Joined
Dec 30, 2021
Messages
22
Planning on a multi night camping trip in Zion on the West Rim trail in December. Is this a bad idea? For some background I am from Louisiana (used to 60 degree temperatures in the winter), however I did Glacier last December.

Hopefully will be able to start at West Rim trailhead and hike to campsite 8, or would it be worth it to keep going to site 6. I have seen several posts about campsite #6 hype. The next day the plan is to head from campsite 6 or 8 to campsite #2. The only thing is that my partner and I don't want to feel rushed. Amateur ish hikers here so if anyone can shed some light on the distance from the trailhead to site 6, from site 6 to 2, and then 2 to the end it would be greatly appreciated! Any other general tips about doing this hike in December?
The West Rim Trail is a fantastic hike, and if you'd like detailed information about it, I highly recommend Joe Braun's description. To answer your specific questions, it's about 6.5 miles from the trailhead to campsite 6 (if you start from Lava Point instead, add about 1.2 miles to that). From there to campsite 2, the most scenic route is about 3 miles. And from there, it's roughly 5 miles to the Grotto trailhead (with over ~2500 feet of elevation loss).

As Joe's website mentions, the upper part of Kolob Terrace Road is not guaranteed to be open in winter because of snowfall, and this can prevent easy access to Lava Point and the West Rim TH. Even if Kolob Terrace Road is open, the unpaved Lava Point Road might not be. The same is true of the narrow, winding dirt road that connects Lava Point Road with the West Rim TH.

While I haven't hiked West Rim Trail during the winter months, the descent from Cabin Spring to Zion Canyon has several very steep sections with large dropoffs and would be dangerous if there's any snow or ice (particularly if you haven't hiked on icy trails before and don't have the right equipment for doing so).

If there's no snow or ice on the trail, the West Rim Trail is a pretty fast hike because the trail is easy to follow and it's mostly downhill. It can certainly be done as a two-night backpack if you want to savor the experience, but with an early start on day 1, a one-night backpack would be at a pretty leisurely pace. (Again, this assumes good weather and no snow/ice/mud.) Assuming that you can reserve the campsite of your choice, I'd aim for either 5 or 6 on night 1, mostly because (1) they have easy access to expansive views of the Great West Canyon and (2) they divide the hike very nicely.

If you want to backpack in Zion during the winter, you might also consider the Chinle Trail in the park's desert lowlands, where snowfall is rare and the winter temperatures are usually mild. I think there are six campsites in this area, and you could also explore Coalpits Wash and Scoggins Wash as part of a multinight itinerary.
 

Ellen

New Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2022
Messages
3
The West Rim Trail is a fantastic hike, and if you'd like detailed information about it, I highly recommend Joe Braun's description. To answer your specific questions, it's about 6.5 miles from the trailhead to campsite 6 (if you start from Lava Point instead, add about 1.2 miles to that). From there to campsite 2, the most scenic route is about 3 miles. And from there, it's roughly 5 miles to the Grotto trailhead (with over ~2500 feet of elevation loss).

As Joe's website mentions, the upper part of Kolob Terrace Road is not guaranteed to be open in winter because of snowfall, and this can prevent easy access to Lava Point and the West Rim TH. Even if Kolob Terrace Road is open, the unpaved Lava Point Road might not be. The same is true of the narrow, winding dirt road that connects Lava Point Road with the West Rim TH.

While I haven't hiked West Rim Trail during the winter months, the descent from Cabin Spring to Zion Canyon has several very steep sections with large dropoffs and would be dangerous if there's any snow or ice (particularly if you haven't hiked on icy trails before and don't have the right equipment for doing so).

If there's no snow or ice on the trail, the West Rim Trail is a pretty fast hike because the trail is easy to follow and it's mostly downhill. It can certainly be done as a two-night backpack if you want to savor the experience, but with an early start on day 1, a one-night backpack would be at a pretty leisurely pace. (Again, this assumes good weather and no snow/ice/mud.) Assuming that you can reserve the campsite of your choice, I'd aim for either 5 or 6 on night 1, mostly because (1) they have easy access to expansive views of the Great West Canyon and (2) they divide the hike very nicely.

If you want to backpack in Zion during the winter, you might also consider the Chinle Trail in the park's desert lowlands, where snowfall is rare and the winter temperatures are usually mild. I think there are six campsites in this area, and you could also explore Coalpits Wash and Scoggins Wash as part of a multinight itinerary.
Thanks so much, great advice! I think I’ll call a week before about the conditions on the West Rim and in the meantime look into the chinle trail as our backup plan.
 
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