A deal has been made to help keep the full length of the Zion Narrows trail permanently open to the public! The 16 mile long trail will remain open for the foreseeable future, according to the parties who were involved in the deal negotiating passage through one mile of the trail which was still owned privately.
The pact which was formed between a private developer, a nonprofit conservation group and public agencies was reached to allow for the $1.5 million purchase of the previously privately owned area, Simon Gulch. While this deal has secured the purchase of the area of Simon Gulch, it allows for the family to continue to own the 880 acres that surround the gulch under a legal agreement to permanently limit any development on that land.
The Simon Gulch area that is to be purchased, was the last mile of The Narrows trail. In 2018, the Bulloch family, owners of the trail, were cutting off access and posting no trespassing signs to stop the flow of Zion National Park visitors from entering their property. A temporary agreement was reached in January that allowed public passage through their land until all parties involved could come up with a more permanent solution.
Throughout the closure of the Simon Gulch area, the Bulloch family stated that their goal was to make sure that the land was protected.
Their statement read, “The Zion Narrows trail attracts visitors from around the world, and we are happy that it will now be properly protected and managed in its entirety. We are proud to formally share this area with the world both now and into the future.”
Under the deal, all 16 miles of the trail will remain open without interruption.
Victor Iverson, a commissioner for Washington County who helped with the deal stated, “We talk a lot about right of ways for motorized vehicles. This is a right of way for people.”
The deal was spearheaded by the nonprofit conservation group The Trust for Public Land. CEO, Diane Regas, stated that the deal will ensure that the Narrows remain permanently protected.
“It took extraordinary commitment from many partners with diverse views to protect this majestic place for people and shows we can do tremendous things when we work together,” stated Regas.
The National Park Service states that The Narrows is the smallest section within Zion Canyon, with canyon walls measuring at a thousand feet tall as the river runs through the middle of the canyon. Visitors to the park are asked to remember that the bottom portion of the trail is always open to the public to hike without a permit, but those wishing to hike the upper areas of the trail, including Simon Gulch, are required to obtain a permit. As the canyon is prone to flooding, always check the weather and water levels before starting your hike up The Narrows.
Funding for the acquisition of the Simon Gulch area was achieved through help from Washington County, the U.S. Forest Service, Quality Growth Commission of Utah, the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation, the National Park Foundation and the Federal Highway Administration.