Zion National Park is a natural wonderland, attracting millions of visitors every year with its awe-inspiring vistas, towering cliffs, and cascading waterfalls.
Unfortunately, with its rugged terrain and unique topography, the park is also a magnet for flash floods.
What Are Flash Floods?
Flash floods are sudden, intense torrents of water that can unleash tremendous force and destruction.
Flash floods occur when a large amount of rain falls in a short period.
In Zion National Park, this can overwhelm the park’s narrow canyons and steep ravines. The water accumulates quickly, picking up debris, boulders, and other objects as it gains speed and volume.
In a matter of minutes, a seemingly calm stream can turn into a raging river, sweeping away everything in its path.
What Parts of Zion Are Prone to Flash Floods?
Not all of Zion National Park is prone to flooding or closes often due to flooding, so it’s important to know what trails to be wary of when there is a chance of rain in the forecast.
- Find out all you need to know about visiting Zion National Park.
- Don’t miss more tips for visiting Zion in How To Use The Zion Shuttle System and Do I Need A Reservation To Visit Zion?
The Narrows is a popular hiking trail in Zion National Park, where hikers walk along the Virgin River through a narrow, twisting canyon.
However, during flash flood events, The Narrows can become extremely dangerous. The walls of the canyon are steep and high, making it difficult to escape the rising water.
The river can also become fast-moving and treacherous, carrying debris and boulders that can cause injury or death.
- Read more about The Narrows hike in our article Riverside Walk & The Narrows In Zion National Park.
Keyhole Canyon is a narrow slot canyon in Zion National Park that requires technical canyoneering skills to navigate.
The canyon has steep walls that can rise up to 40 feet, making it a popular spot for rappelling and rock climbing. However, during flash flood events, Keyhole Canyon can quickly become a death trap.
In 2015, seven hikers lost their lives in the canyon when a flash flood hit. Since then, the park has closed the canyon to all visitors.
Weeping Rock is a popular attraction in Zion National Park where water seeps through the sandstone cliffs and drips from the rock, creating a “weeping” effect.
During flash flood events, Weeping Rock can transform into a powerful waterfall, cascading down the cliff face in a spectacular display of nature’s power.
The water can also create dangerous conditions for hikers, as the trail to Weeping Rock can become slippery and difficult to navigate.
- Don’t miss Angel’s Landing! Another great hike in Zion.
The Emerald Pools are a series of three interconnected pools in Zion National Park that are fed by waterfalls.
During flash flood events, the waterfalls can become swollen and powerful, creating a dramatic display of nature’s force.
However, the pools and the surrounding area can become dangerous for hikers, as the water can quickly rise and cause flash flooding downstream.
Kolob Canyons is a remote area of Zion National Park that features steep canyons and towering cliffs.
The area is known for its scenic drives and hiking trails, but during flash flood events, the roads and trails can become impassable. The canyons are narrow and steep, making it difficult to escape the rising water.
The area is also prone to landslides and rockfall during heavy rain, adding to the danger of flash floods.
- Learn more about Kolob Canyons; a less crowded area of Zion.
- Find out Can You Drive In Zion? (What You Need To Know)
How Often Do Flash Floods Happen in Zion?
Flash floods can occur in Zion National Park at any time, but they are most common during the monsoon season, which typically runs from mid-July through early September.
During this time, thunderstorms can develop quickly, dumping large amounts of rain on the park’s narrow canyons and steep terrain.
Flash floods can also occur during other times of the year, such as during heavy rainstorms or snowmelt in the spring.
According to the National Park Service, Zion National Park experiences an average of one to two flash floods per year, but the frequency and severity can vary widely depending on weather conditions.
- Don’t miss Hiking In The Desert: 11 Things To Know Before You Go.
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Flash Flood Safety
Flash floods in Zion National Park are a force of nature that demands respect and caution. They can happen with little warning, and visitors should always be aware of the weather forecast and be prepared for changing conditions.
Thankfully, Park rangers monitor weather conditions closely and will issue warnings and closures if necessary to keep visitors safe.
However, with the rapid nature of flash floods, it is important to know what to do in the event of a flash flood, or while visiting locations not monitored closely by park rangers.
To stay safe during flash flood season, visitors to Zion National Park are advised to:
- Check the weather forecast and avoid hiking or camping in narrow canyons or washes when thunderstorms are in the area. NEVER enter a slot canyon when there is rain in the forecast.
- It is also crucial to be aware of warning signs, such as rapidly rising water levels, roaring sounds, or the smell of wet earth. If you are caught in a flash flood, seek higher ground immediately and avoid crossing streams or rivers.
Check the National Park Website for more information about flash floods and for alerts before hiking in the area.
What Else Do I Need to Know?
Zion National Park is crowded!
Most travelers want to visit the most popular sites and still avoid crowds. We have a detailed itinerary that gives you a step-by-step game plan so you can get to the best places at the right times.
But that’s not all! Our itinerary includes a free audio guide to listen to while driving with over 2-hours of stories about the park!
- Our Zion National Park Itinerary
- Our Zion National Park Trip Planner Page
- Zion National Park Trip Planner
- How To Hike Angels Landing In Zion
- Kolob Canyons In Zion National Park
- How To Do The Confusing Emerald Pools Hike In Zion National Park
- Riverside Walk & The Narrows In Zion National Park
- Hiking In The Desert: 11 Things To Know Before You Go
- How To Use The Zion Shuttle System
- Can You Drive In Zion? (What You Need To Know)
- Do I Need A Reservation To Visit Zion?
- Zion National Park Website