Update: September 2, 2021 4:00 PM EDT
Zion National Park announced that the missing hiker has been found with non-life-threatening injuries. The park provided no other information about the hiker but noted that the individual was found around 12:35 PM MDT. Rescue crews are now working to help the hiker return home.
ORIGINAL STORY: September 2, 2021 2:00 PM EDT
One of Zion National Park’s most popular hiking areas is temporarily closed as park rangers search for a missing hiker. Park rangers have yet to release any further information about the hiker, but search and rescue teams have been activated to aid in the emergency response.
According to park spokesperson Amanda Rowland, the Narrows—one of the most popular canyon hikes in the park—will be closed to visitors starting at midnight on the morning of Thursday, September 2, 2021. Rowland stated that there is an ongoing search and rescue mission for an overdue hiker.
The primary goal of the temporary closure is to give search and rescue teams a better chance of finding the missing hiker in Zion National Park.
The closure of the Narrows comes at the start of what is expected to be a very busy Labor Day weekend in the park. Late summer and holiday weekends are normally busy in the park anyway, but the increase in outdoor recreation during the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to cause larger crowds than usual.
As of Thursday, September 2, all of the campsites in the park’s campgrounds are fully booked. Park officials have been encouraging visitors to take the free shuttle from the nearby town of Springdale as all parking lots are expected to fill early each day of the holiday weekend. The park is also expected to see high temperatures and potential flash flooding in the coming days.
Zion National Park Missing Hiker Incident Analysis
As of the time of writing, there is limited information available from the Park Service about the missing hiker in Zion National Park. We will update this article as more information becomes available.
However, we do know that the Narrows is one of the most popular slot canyons among Zion National Park Visitors. It is the narrowest part of Zion Canyon (hence the name), and it is a popular destination among first-time canyoneers and day hikers due to its very accessible nature.
That being said, on September 1, 2021, Zion National Park put out a flash flood warning:
The National Weather Service in Salt Lake City also put out a flash flood warning for the bulk of the park and the surrounding region:
Although the flash flood warning was lifted on the afternoon of September 1, there was also confirmed flooding of Zion Canyon between the Temple of the Sun and the Twins on that day.
It is unclear whether the search and rescue mission for the missing hiker is related to the flash flooding. However, hikers are highly encouraged to listen to all flash flood warnings. Flash floods are incredibly dangerous events that can occur with little notice. They are particularly dangerous in slot canyons, like the Narrows, where opportunities to get to higher ground are limited.
Hikers are also always encouraged to pack the hiking 10 essentials and to follow best practices for safety in the mountains. Check out our top tips for hiking safety for more information before you head out on your next hike.