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Archive for January, 2014

Winter / Spring 2014 Backpacking Season – date posted Jan, 9, 2014

Posted at January 9th, 2014
Posted by Zion National Park Motel
Categories: Park Details
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If you would like to make an advance reservation to camp in the Grand Canyon, we need at least three weeks’ notice. If your planned hike is less than three weeks away, come in person to the Backcountry Information Center and request a walk-in permit. Availability of last minute permits is dependent on the season. The South Rim Backcountry Information Center is open year-round. The North Rim office is closed until mid-May.

Be prepared for winter hiking and expect icy trail conditions January, February, and March! Plan accordingly and prepare for winter conditions. Some trails are more difficult than others to navigate in the winter. Access to all dirt backcountry roads to remote trailheads on both canyon rims will range from difficult to impossible depending on recent snow or rain and daytime high temperature. Changing conditions make it impossible to generalize about the condition of specific roads or trails. Hikers considering traveling dirt roads to remote trailheads should contact the North Kaibab Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest at 928-643-7395, the Tusayan Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest on the South Rim at 928-635-4061, or the Backcountry Information Center for current conditions.

January and February: Permits for most areas are generally available and can be obtained in person. Upper portions of trails are snow packed and icy. Over-the-shoe traction devices are strongly recommended. Access to South Bass Trailhead may not be possible when snowpack exists, from late December through mid-March.

March: Bright Angel and Indian Garden Campgrounds are full the last three weeks; some availability between the 1st and 10th.

April: Spring is a delightful time of year for overnight hiking, and consequently most corridor and threshold use areas are at capacity.

May: Corridor campgrounds are full. Hiking outside the Corridor becomes inherently more risky, especially later in the month as temperatures start to climb above 100°F (38°C) at the Colorado River.

June: Submit a written permit request starting February 1st. Hiking outside the Corridor is not recommended due to extreme heat, average highs are over 100°F (38°C) at the Colorado River.

Options for hikers who are unable to obtain a backcountry permit in advance:

  • Get a permit at the park. A limited number of last minute walk-up permits are available for Corridor Campgrounds (Indian Garden, Bright Angel, and Cottonwood Campgrounds) at the Backcountry Information Center. These permits are issued in person only, are for one or two consecutive nights, and cannot be purchased more than one day prior to the start of a hike. Review information on our website (www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm) or contact us at (928) 638-7875 between 1 pm and 5 pm Monday through Friday
  • Day Hike: No permit needed to day hike. Weather and trail conditions are variable and can change dramatically from one hour to the next. Plan Ahead and Prepare. (more info)

North Rim (Kaibab Plateau / Highway 67 / North Kaibab Trailhead): The North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park is closed to vehicles for the winter season. The park’s group campsite and a yurt can be reserved throughout the winter months. You must obtain your backcountry permit prior to arrival. Backcountry permits for North Rim winter hikes can be obtained from the South Rim Backcountry Information Center, at Pipe Springs National Monument, or the BLM Interagency Visitor Center in St. George, Utah. The North Rim will open for the summer season mid-May 2014. Locations near the 8,000 foot level such as Pt. Sublime, high elevation access to Nankoweap, and the North Bass Trailhead will not be accessible until road beds have dried and downed trees have been removed, often in late May, but possibly as late as mid-June.

Road Conditions for Remote Trailheads – date posted Jan 9, 2014

Posted at January 9th, 2014
Posted by Zion National Park Motel
Categories: Park Details
No Comments »

After heavy summer rain (July and August) or winter snow (December through March), expect impassable backcountry roads. If clear skies abound after the rain or snow, then it is often just a matter of days until the sun dries everything out. Sometimes, heavy rain or melting snow can lead to flooding, which can cause erosion of the roadbed and can delay access.

Other considerations for visitors travelling on remote backcountry roads include high clearance, such as may be needed on Forest Road 328 to South Bass Trailhead (limestone ledges) and on the final approach to Toroweap overlook (sandstone knobs and ledges).

Finally, consider elevation of the road that you will be travelling on, especially during the winter months. Roads in the 6,500 to 8,000 foot range may be impassable due to a snowpack, where lower elevations roads (below 6,000 feet) will see deteriorated road conditions due to rain.

Always check road conditions with the Backcountry Information Center before heading out to remote trailheads, tell someone where you are going and when you will be back, and be adaptable and prepared for the worst. High clearance, four-wheel drive is usually recommended for roads to remote trailheads.

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It is not uncommon for trees to fall and block access to remote trailheads. When you encounter a road blocked by fallen trees, what should you do?

  • Report the location and diameter of the tree to Grand Canyon park dispatch (928-638-7805) as soon as possible. The park will assign staff to clear the road.
  • If an appropriate (not blocking the road and not damaging vegetation) place to park is available, park your vehicle and continue to the trailhead on foot.
  • Do not drive off-road attempting to bypass the obstacle, doing so can cause resource damage.