Zion National Park visitors rescued after mocking rangers, hiking The Subway unprepared

The Subway, a tubular formation in the Left Fork of North Creek at Zion National Park, Utah, Oct. 21, 2017 | Photo by Spencer Ricks, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Hikers in two separate groups visiting the popular rock formation known as The Subway in Zion National Park needed rescuing Monday after officials say they were unprepared.

At the location where a hiker received a knee injury after attempting to jump over a drop Monday, a rope is set up for the rappel into The Subway, Zion National Park, Utah, Oct. 21, 2017 | Photo by Spencer Ricks, St. George News

One hiker who received a knee injury on the hike spent the night with rescuers before being airlifted by a helicopter. Another group spent the night in the canyon after getting lost. They were found and rescued Monday morning.

The Subway is a tubular formation within the Left Fork of North Creek in the park, and because of the popularity of the canyon, there is a lottery system for permits. For hikers starting at the top of the canyon, there is a necessary 30-foot rappel that requires ropes and technical canyoneering gear. 

The Subway without ropes

One of the groups that required a rescue had disregarded and mocked a ranger’s advice when they picked up their permit to visit The Subway, according to a press release from Zion National Park.

“The ranger recommended they bring a rope and multiple harnesses for at least one of the rappels, but the leader of the group, who had been there before, said that they could cross the log and find an easier way down,” reads the press release.

The ranger told them that the log had washed out last year and once again recommended the gear, but the group dismissed the information and started the 9.5-mile hike without ropes or harnesses.

A stock image shows a helicopter making a rescue in Zion National Park | Photo courtesy of National Park Service, St. George News

When the group reached the 30-foot rappel, they attempted to make the 6- or 7-foot jump to the other side of the drop, but one person landed badly and received a knee injury.

A medic and two other rescuers responded to the scene and spent the Monday night with the patient. A helicopter from the Grand Canyon arrived to pick up the injured hiker Tuesday morning.

Zion National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said it was fortunate that the helicopter was able to respond so quickly “given the number of fires throughout the West and the assignment of aviation assets to them.”

The Subway with “inappropriate footwear”

Another group that officials say was wearing “inappropriate footwear,” got lost several times while hiking toward The Subway. They finally reached the famous formation late Sunday night, so they spent an unexpected night in the canyon.

Monday morning, they got lost again and missed the trail that leads out of the canyon to the trailhead, according to the press release. Instead, they continued farther downstream.

“At some point, they decided to try to climb a cliff face to reach the road,” reads the press release.

Heat exhaustion started to set in, so members of the group activated their emergency locator and reported a heat-related illness. Search and rescue responders were able to locate the group, give them water and help them find their way back to the trailhead.

Park officials said both rescues are good examples for visitors to plan their trip thoroughly and take their safety seriously by being prepared with all the necessary gear.

“Park rangers are here to advise and assist visitors planning challenging trips in the backcountry, but ultimately preparations and proper equipment is the visitor’s responsibility,” Bradybaugh said. “Please prepare carefully and plan ahead for unexpected events that might occur in this wonderful, but at times, unforgiving landscape.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter:  @STGnews | @SpencerRicks

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • darkgoddess August 1, 2018 at 5:38 am

    People, there’s a reason the Rangers make their recommendations. Stupid is as stupid does.

  • Real Life August 1, 2018 at 8:37 am

    Should have left them in there for a little while.

  • JOSH DALTON August 1, 2018 at 8:47 am


  • Vic August 1, 2018 at 8:49 am

    I was just wondering….. do they get billed for the rescue?

  • LunchboxHero August 1, 2018 at 9:10 am

    Disrespectful idiots. I wonder if they were filming footage for their “vlog”.

  • yikes August 1, 2018 at 9:25 am

    I hope these people were billed the cost of their rescue. Perhaps the permits should start stating the cost of a rescue to get people to think before they leap.

  • comments August 1, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    It’ time to start charging for rescues.

  • utahdiablo August 1, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    If they don’t want to listen….F’ them….coyotes got to eat too

  • PlanetU August 1, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    Arrogant idiot(s). I agree with everyone else, cough up some money, a hole.

  • Red2Blue August 1, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    Let them pay! Let them pay! PAY for the time, rescue equipment, all resouces. It would serve the stupid right.

  • Mike P August 2, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    I agree with pretty much everyone here, CHARGE them, not “for costs” but “for and with profit” to help with general operating expenses. If not I agree with utahdiablo , If they don’t want to listen….F’ them….coyotes got to eat too!

  • Foxyheart August 2, 2018 at 7:24 pm

    The rangers should set a minimum of supplies needed for each permit. If it requires ropes and harnesses, the people requesting a permit should provide proof they have them or no permit.

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