Are Flash Floods Common in Zion National Park?

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.

zion narrows

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.

The Narrows

people hiking in river in zion narrows

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.

Keyhole Canyon

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

people standing under Weeping Rock Zion

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.

Emerald Pools

Emerald Pools 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.

The pools and the surrounding area can become dangerous for hikers, as the water can quickly rise and cause flash flooding downstream.

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Kolob Canyons

kolob canyons zion

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.

How Often Do Flash Floods Happen in Zion?

stream 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.

Flash Flood Safety

Clouds surrounding top of peak in Zion

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!


ZION TRIP PLANNER: To read or watch all of our content about Zion National Park, check out our  Zion Homepage

THINGS TO DO: Don’t miss all that Zion has to offer including Emerald Pools, Angel’s Landing, The Narrows, and Kolob Canyons

WHERE TO EAT: Check out the best places to eat in and near Zion National Park

GREAT CITIES TO STAY OR CHECK OUT: Learn where to stay or camp when visiting Zion and explore some amazing cities nearby including St. George, Kanab, and Cedar City

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Find out if you need a reservation and how to use the shuttle system as well as if you can drive in Zion, which entrance to use, and how to avoid crowds

WATCH: Enjoy videos of gorgeous Zion National Park while learning our best tips for visiting by watching our Zion YouTube Playlist


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