Zion National Park Hiker Freezes to Death During 16-Mile Route Through the Narrows

by Sean Griffin
(Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A woman died in Zion National Park after freezing to death while hiking with her husband. In the tragic incident, a husband, 33, and his wife, 31, started an overnight camping trip in the national park on Tuesday. However, temperatures started dropping drastically into the night, and the woman started showing signs of hypothermia. Moreover, the man had apparently injured himself on the hike.

While hiking a 16-mile stretch through the Narrows on Wednesday morning, they decided to stop and split up so the husband could retrieve help for both of them.

He left his wife at their stopping point. She was located about a mile-and-a-half from the north end of Riverside Walk in the park. Riverside Walk is a paved trail leading from the Temple of Sinawava to the Narrows. 

Eventually, the husband found park rangers on the path. He quickly alerted them to their dire situation, and they brought him to seek medical attention.

Zion’s rescue teams arrived back at the stopping point to find that other visitors had already found the woman unresponsive. They gave her CPR, but unfortunately, it was too late by the time her husband and the park team returned.

Authorities have not released the identities of the couple. 

“First responders administered emergency aid, but they determined she was deceased,” park officials said in a news release. “Zion National Park’s response involved more than 20 search and rescue team members.”

Authorities Release Statement on Deceased Hiker at Zion National Park

The cause of the woman’s death is currently under investigation by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Utah Office of the Medical Examiner, and the National Park Service.

Reportedly, the high on Tuesday in Zion National Park was 49 degrees Fahrenheit. It dropped to 19 degrees overnight into Wednesday morning.

“The man reported they became dangerously cold overnight and experienced symptoms consistent with hypothermia,” the National Park Service said in a statement.

The husband continued down walking trail to seek help at the popular Riverside Walk, officials said.

At that point, the pair was about 1.5 miles from that main passageway. Riverside Walk is paved and contains facilities. It’s not immediately clear if the couple knew they were so close to the passageway.

The Narrows consists of a 20- to 30-foot-wide trail lined by thousand-foot sandstone walls and centered by a river known to overflow.

Unfortunately, this hiking death wasn’t the only one to occur this week.

The 33-year-old woman passed away on the same day that rescuers found the body of a teenage girl who froze to death after becoming lost on a hike. 

Emily Sotelo, 19, died in Franconia Notch State Park in New Hampshire. Her body was found on Wednesday after an intensive four-day search. Sotelo apparently got lost in the wilderness after taking a wrong turn on a trail.