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Topic: Grand Canyon/Southern Utah in March, Weather?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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cweston Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 09 2013, 2:12 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

We're thinking of a travel trip (not primarily a hiking trip, although some dayhiking will be included) to the Grand Canyon and some of the southern Utah parks in late March, over my spring break.

I know that that is not peak time, and the weather can be quite unpredictable at that time. Are there decent options for dayhikes in these areas in March? I know that the Narrows at Zion is out, unless one has a drysuit, I imagine.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 09 2013, 2:36 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

There may or may not still be snow in southern UT through the end of March, at least at Grand Gulch and Comb Ridge.  The same is true for the GC rims.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 09 2013, 2:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(big_load @ Oct. 09 2013, 1:36 pm)
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There may or may not still be snow in southern UT through the end of March, at least at Grand Gulch and Comb Ridge.  The same is true for the GC rims.

My assumption is that even if there's still snow on the ground,  trails near the popular attractions would be well-tracked and hikable, at least near the trailheads. Is that not a good assumption?
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 09 2013, 3:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Many of the South Rim trails will be iced over, or post holed.  Any misstep there could be bad.  I would assume there would be snow on the ground at the Rim, so camping in the tent at Mather would be cold.  Last trip I did in the Canyon during a March, we had some snow and ice, but not bad, until we dropped about 1000' on the trail  After that, wonderful weather.  

Same might be true with Buckskin Gulch, or the Waves.  Snow or cold, or beautiful March weather.  Who could tell?


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 09 2013, 3:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Some years anyway by mid-March the north wall of Zion is largely snow-free for dayhike distances for sure, farther on toward Potato Hollow etc. and it can be a plunge step drag.... Angel's landing for one (though I'd be on the lookout for ice were the overnight temps low).

On general roadtrip principles Utah 12 is a great ride with lots of side trip potential in slot country.

http://www.utah.com/byways/highway_12.htm
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 09 2013, 3:56 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(cweston @ Oct. 09 2013, 2:47 pm)
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(big_load @ Oct. 09 2013, 1:36 pm)
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There may or may not still be snow in southern UT through the end of March, at least at Grand Gulch and Comb Ridge.  The same is true for the GC rims.

My assumption is that even if there's still snow on the ground,  trails near the popular attractions would be well-tracked and hikable, at least near the trailheads. Is that not a good assumption?

I've seen fairly snow-free conditions in Grand Gulch by mid-March (apart from a lot of high water), and I've seen the trailheads unreachable and the trails several feet deep even in the last week of March.   There can still be a couple feet of snow on the ground in Flagstaff then, or it could be starting to clear up.  

Lower elevations in AZ are fantastic in March.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 09 2013, 5:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

OK, I'm getting the idea that maybe this isn't a great plan. This is a potential trip with my wife, who would be way less into post-holing or hiking in cold rain than I would be. Since we have no flexibility about the timing of the trip (spring break is when it is), we'd be kindof SOL if the weather/snow conditions were poor.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 09 2013, 5:53 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm thinking you'd be just fine as long as you had a plan B that you were looking forward to as much, or nearly so, as plan A -- and were willing to call the audible as the conditions/weather cycle clarifies just before your trip.

(this is said from a backpacker's persecutive)

Plan B would be lower elevation, probably further south.

Note Big Load's comment: Lower elevations in AZ are fantastic in March
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 10 2013, 5:07 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Have two plans.  I have been I Grand Gulch, Arches, Maze, Dark Canyon, Escalante, Western Grand Canyon the last of March many times......but there have been many times they have too much snow to get in.  Just have to watch the weather beforehand.   There are usually a lot of people around S Utah during spring break. usually no snow at Comb Ridge / Butler Wash....good ruins and glyphs and lower down.  Slickhorn Canyon lower access. Personally I'd bag Zion and Bryce. But just depends on the snow year.....  go to Bogley.com......more local info than here.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 10 2013, 6:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(bbobb169 @ Oct. 10 2013, 5:07 pm)
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usually no snow at Comb Ridge / Butler Wash....good ruins and glyphs and lower down.

I agree.  One really cool thing about Comb Ridge (at least on the Utah side) is to take a close look at the loose rocks on top.   There's a whole bunch of little ones that don't belong there.  Careful inspection reveals that big swaths of the ridge are covered in toolmaking debris.  People must have sat up there enjoying the view while they chipped away.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 11 2013, 5:44 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Go for it - I've done a few trips in that area that time of year and had mostly mild weather.  Here was the last, in 2009

http://www.tarol.com/azut


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 12 2013, 2:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Keep in mind that the area gets little precipitation, even in winter, so while there is still the chance that you'll get unlucky and be there for that one snowstorm in March, it's still unlikely.  By the end of March, the days are warm enough that residual snow and ice on the trails are usually not a problem.  I was at the Grand Canyon at the end of March this year and it was gorgeous -- perfect hiking weather, imo.  We saw small traces of snow they'd gotten the week before, but no ice at all.

I would *definitely* try to do the Narrows if it's open!  My son and I did a COLD Narrows hike in November a few years ago and had a blast.  Just go to Zion Adventures and rent their "Narrows package" which includes a full eVent drysuit, 5.10 Canyoneers, neoprene booties (3mil, I think they were) and a walking staff.  When we went, the water was just above freezing (puddles along the shore were frozen over in the morning.)  We're both weenies about being cold, wore (at Zion Adventures' recommendation) three layers of baselayers top and bottom under the drysuits and were just fine.  The advantage was that we basically had the place to ourselves.  We floated ('turtled') large stretches of the way back -- hikers we passed were watching us like we were insane.

Bryce is at a higher elevation than either GC or Zion and, there, you may run into real winter weather.


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Eric H Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 12 2013, 8:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Tigerfan, thanks for that description of doing the Narrows in November. Something I'll remember.

Not sure the November Narrows experience transfers to late March. November flows are typically low. The plateau above Zion is 8 to 9 thousand feet high, typically builds a 6 foot snowpack (great b.c. skiing) and late March would see considerable runoff in the river.

Meanwhile, we haven't heard from the OP (cweston) in a bit so I'm not sure the "be flexible and it'll be great" premise we've been floating here works over by him.

Tarol, noticed your Lake Powell boat pictures. We did a small houseboat for my parents' 50th, at Easter a few years back. Great trip, "worked" for everyone in the family, good hikes. Sleeping on the roof of the houseboat was fun.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 12 2013, 8:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Eric H @ Oct. 12 2013, 8:37 pm)
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Not sure the November Narrows experience transfers to late March. November flows are typically low.

I would agree that chances of the Narrows being closed are much higher in late March than November.   But we were there in November right after a snowstorm and it was flowing 107cfs which was a challenging for us short/little people. :)

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 12 2013, 8:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

All good Tigerfan, I was fascinated to hear it worked well for you, drysuit availability.

Was the desert varnish flowing after the storm? We passed thru once at New Year's and a wet storm came thru, the walls erupted with waterfalls, all the desert varnish came to life.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 12 2013, 10:04 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

What week in March is your spring break? Some of us are going to Big Bend the 15th through the 20th.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 14 2013, 11:52 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Late March is my favorite time for hiking the canyons of Utah.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 14 2013, 11:55 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for all the info, folks. I'm not sure what we'll do but either way this is all very helpful.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2013, 11:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

We visited Arizona/Utah last March (first two weeks) and the weather was fine for us (I know, can be variable).  We backpacked in the Grand Canyon and encountered a range of weather. We carried microspikes and used them, but many people were without. So much sand/dirt gets thrown on the ice and with the mules walking on the corridor trails, even spots with ice weren't bad.  There was also some ice at Bryce and some trails were super muddy, but we still did some hiking (Bryce was a short stop anyway and more about viewing the hoodoos).

We liked traveling in March - temps were fine (we like it cooler, we even camped some nights) and crowds weren't bad. We often had places to ourselves.  Our trip report: AZ/UT 2012

We even visited Arizona in February several years ago and hiked in the Superstitions and Sedona. There are so many options out there, I think you would be fine. Just be willing to be flexible in case you need to change your plans or plan for lower elevations if that makes you feel better.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 19 2013, 6:21 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've gone in March off the South Rim before and wasn't bad.  One March I caught in a heat wave so I got away with a 45 degree bag on the Tonto Trail.  A little chilly in the AM but we had to get outta camp at dawn to beat the heat anyways.   My buddies had been hit with a snowstorm in March previously though, so I would take a couple different bags and see what type of cold front is moving in.

Did some tourist trips in Zion from the shuttle bus in the valley.  Typical dreary winter-type weather.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 31 2013, 6:13 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've gone to SE UT a lot in March. I've had glorious temps at Canyonlands the first week and decent snow the last week on Cedar Mesa. I'd be optimisitic but be able to punt and go south of the Tonto Rim.

Rocky Mt. High and I hiked Indian Gardens in mid March 2010. Camping at the Campground on the Rim was fairly chilly in the morning but otherwise glorious. I'd keep up with the seasonal NOAA forecasts and close to departure time. I bet your gonna luck out.


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