Zion at Night
Run by moonlight as you take in the solitude of the desert. A half marathon that runs through the night - choose your time and run on top of Gooseberry Mesa overlooking the desert floor below with views of Zion. Introduced in 2020 this small group half marathon style is back by poplular demand, but with a new course!
Zion at Night on Gooseberry will treat you to one of the best trails in southern Utah. Don't miss out on this chance to run under the stars.
Start/Finish Line and Parking:
Ruby Rider Ranch in Apple Valley, UT
There will be no expo, but you can pick up your bib near the start line just before your race time (up to 30 minutes before your time slot)
Date: September 24-25, 2021
Starts/Ends: 6:00 pm on Friday Sept. 24th through 7:00 am on Saturday Sept. 25th
Runners will sign up to run their half marathon during a specific time slot. Each time slot allows up to 150 runners in each race. Beginning at 6 pm on Friday, September 24, 2021, a new race will begin every half hour until 7 am the next morning.
Course Type: Lollipop Loop
Required equipment: Personal headlamp or light to navigate the trail
Stroller friendly? No
Spectators allowed? Start/Finish line only
Dogs allowed? No
Registration & Pricing
Early: $109 (Apr 9 - June 20)
Regular: $129 (June 21 - Aug 7)
Late $149 (Aug. 9 - Sept. 24)
Refunds available during Early Registration and Regular Registration ($10 fee).
This race will be at NIGHT. Running through the desert outside Zion under the stars and the moon with the quiet of the night, the deep canyons in the distance, silhouetted buttes, and the twinkling desert all around will be an unforgettable experience. Explore Zion by day – run it at night.
Run on some of the most famous trails of southern Utah atop Gooseberry Mesa. Just located southwest of Zion National Park, panoramic views of Virgin, Zion, and even Kolob Fingers can be seen from the mesa. This is a trail half marathon. The terrain is a mix of dirt roads, slickrock, and single track trail as you weave in and out of trees, catching glimpses of beautiful desert landscapes, and breathtaking views. Experience the quiet of the desert in a special opportunity to run either at sunset, under complete moonlight, or as the sun rises-- you choose your start time! Experience Zion at Night unlike any other trail race.
Just west of Smithsonian Butte, runners will start out from the Ruby Rider Ranch in Apple Valley, UT. You will head out toward Gooseberry Mesa on a wide dirt road. Your first aid station will be at about mile 3.6 near the Gooseberry Mesa parking area. You will continue on this road for another 1.5 miles before veering left onto the Windmill Trail. The climb may look daunting, but from the start line to the highest point on the course is less than 450 ft. of gain.
The Windmill Trail is a single track section that skirts the northwest edge of Gooseberry mesa granting amazing views of the Virgin Desert below. You will be running on slickrock, but contrary to the name, it is not slick unless there is a thin layer of gravel on the surface or if it gets wet. It’s actually hard sandstone. Watch your footing and take your time- if you are new to trail running, you may find it challenging to find a rhythm in the sections of slickrock throughout the course between miles 6-8. Slow down and enjoy the experience.
*Trail markings: Pay attention to trail markings for the race. We will use pink ribbon bundled with reflective tape to indicate the trail. There will also be arrows pointing you in the right direction at any major turns, and Wrong Way signs indicating that you should turn around to get back on course. There may be a few sections where the course runs along the same path as mountain biking trails. These mountain biking trails are often marked with white dots painted on the slickrock to help bikers navigate. Don’t get side-tracked following the white dots. Though you may see both white dots and pink ribbons simultaneously- KEEP FOLLOWING THE PINK RIBBON.
At mile 6.2 there will be a water-only station. Be sure to top off your fluids in your bottles and packs here and continue on the Windmill trail until it runs into the North Rim Trail. There will be arrows and trail markings to turn right, where you will run on the North Rim Trail for just .3 miles. You will take a left on a short connector trail to get you onto the White Road Trail. This section consists of mostly hard packed dirt with a few rocky sections. Some of the roads can get pretty rutted depending on recent rains, so be sure to watch your step as you start to descend.
The White Road will wrap up the loop portion of the course as you return to the same aid station as before. This aid station at mile 9.7 will be your final chance to refuel before heading back toward the finish.
Continue back on the dirt road heading southeast until mile 11.4 where you will veer right onto a different road. This section overall, is fairly mild but there are a handful of spots with rocks that could trip you up- so be cautious and slow down if you need to. At about mile 12.5, the course will parallel with the dirt road that you originally ran out on- stick to the path you are on and run directly south as you near the finish. At mile 13, make a hard left and return to the finish line at Ruby Rider Ranch.
Aid Stations: 2 full aid stations, 1 water-only station
Time Limit: 4 hrs.
Course Map & Elevation
The event will be timed. The first race will begin at 6 pm, with a new race continuing every 30 minutes until 7 am the next morning. Each race will have a rolling start to help spread out runners. Due to the nature of varying start times through the night, we will not have an official awards ceremony. After the event, we will verify and mail out age group awards to the top 5 in each of the following age groups: 11 & under, 12-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70 & up
Pricing and Registration
Want to run for a great cause? Fundraise for your chosen race and your registration fee could be waived. All funds go to Wander Project to support efforts in and around the communities that host our events. We primarily fund three project areas including: preservation and conservation of public lands; education around local ecology and stewardship; and the promotion of health and well-being. Learn more about Charity Bibs here!
Race Rules and Etiquette
• In order to put on the event, we are following Utah's state and local guidelines for the health and safety of the general public. Runners assume the risk inherent in public gatherings.
• Physical distancing of 6 ft. will be enforced.
• Runners should bring a mask for times when they might not be able to properly distance themselves from one another.
• Staff will be wearing masks, and we will be modifying several elements to the event in order to prevent overcrowding and ensure safety for everyone.
• Runners may arrive no earlier than 30 minutes prior to their assigned start time, and can start no later than 30 minutes after their assigned start time. Each race will have a rolling start to help disperse runners, avoid congregation, and thin the crowds.
• This is not a spectator-friendly course. Spectators may meet their runner at the finish line, but are discouraged from hanging around while the runner is out on course. We need to prevent crowds- even at the finish line.
• This is a cup free event. Though the race will have 3 aid stations, runners will need to bring their own form of hydration to refill. Hydrapouches will NOT be offered.
• Due to the nature of this event and how start times are spread out through the night, we will not be offering race photography at this race.
• A headlamp, flashlight or some sort of light is required. This race takes place at night! The course will be marked, but not lit. This is both for your safety and that of the other runners.
• When passing on course, do so with consideration and communication.
• Trail shoes aren't required, but highly recommended.
You will receive a personalized bib and a race shirt before the race, and a glow in the dark finisher's medal upon finishing your race. Runners will also receive a food box at the finish line. No Hydrapouch will be given- runners must bring their own means of hydration to refill at the aid stations and finish line.
Because of the nature of our timing system for this event, results won't be instantly available. Please allow about 48 hours for us to get the results posted online.
Results from the 2020 event can be found here.
The race takes place on a property in Apple Valley, less than 25 minutes from Hurricane, and less than 50 minutes from Springdale. Runners will park near the start/finish off of Main Street at Ruby Rider Ranch, prior to running the course on Gooseberry Mesa. There are no shuttles for this race.
If you are flying to the area for the race, look for flights into:
- St. George Regional Airport (SGU)
- McCarran International Airport (LAS)
- Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)
- Cedar City Regional Airport (CDC)
From Las Vegas
Head north on Interstate-15 through Nevada to enter Utah. Take exit 16 in Washington, UT onto Highway 9. Take Hwy 9 all the way to Virgin, UT (you will take a right at 500 N in La Verkin, UT to stay on Hwy 9).
From Salt Lake City
Head south on Interstate-15 toward southern Utah. Take exit 27 in Toquerville, UT. Continue on UT-17 through Toquerville and turn left onto Highway 9 (500 N) in La Verkin, UT. Continue on Hwy 9 all the way to Virgin, UT.
Head north on Interstate-17 toward Flagstaff. Take exit 340A to merge onto I-40 E. Take exit 201 toward US-89 N/Page. At Bitter Springs turn left onto US-89A N to Fredonia. Turn left on AZ-389/Pratt St. in Fredonia. Continue on AZ-389 to the Arizona/Utah border where the same highway turns into UT-59/State Street. Remain on UT-59 toward Apple Valley and turn right onto Main Street (dirt road) in Apple Valley. The staging area will be along Main St. on your left.
We recommend staying in Hurricane, UT but LaVerkin, Springdale or even St. George has plenty of options(depending on if you’d rather stay closer to the race, or closer to the park entrance). Other good sources for planning your stay include the A to Zion website, and the NPS website.
There are many hotel options in the area, but please plan accordingly for travel time to get to the start line for your race's time slot! The race start is located in Apple Valley, UT. There are numerous hotels near the south entrance of Zion National Park.
We recommend looking for lodging in the following towns:
- Hurricane (closest)
- La Verkin
- St George (furthest)
If camping is more your style you can find dispersed camping in the area around the race on the BLM website, here.
Explore the Park
Whether before or after the race, discover Zion's majesty!
Zion National Park is a southwest Utah nature preserve distinguished by Zion Canyon’s steep red cliffs. Zion Canyon Scenic Drive cuts through its main section, leading to forest trails along the Virgin River. The river flows to the Emerald Pools, which have waterfalls and a hanging garden. Also along the river, partly through deep chasms, is Zion Narrows wading hike.
Video courtesy of Amazing Places on Our Planet
Zion Explorer Club (new!)
If you've run any of our National Park half marathons before, you may be familiar with our "club hikes" and "trifecta" programs. The "Explorer Club" series is our new iteration of this idea! We want you to have as broad or as deep of an experience of our National Parks and their surrounding areas as oissible. We have created a scavenger hunt made up of all kinds of adventures and experiences you can have here at Zion.
The challenge consists of activities that fit into 6 categories: History, Hiking, Explore, Food/Dining, Education, and Stewardship.
Each activity is worth points towards a Zion Explorer badge! They are worth a different number of points based on difficulty and you can choose which to tackle based on your interests. Whether you have an afternoon or a week in Zion, you should be able to plan an amazing itinerary with these suggestions!
Here's how to become a Zion Explorer:
- Install the free Spark Challenges app
- Sign-up using the same email address you used to register for the race
- Join the Zion Explorer Club challenge and start completing activities
- Earn at least 1,500 points within 7-days of the race and you’ll earn a special in-app achievement with a coupon code to claim your free Zion Explorer badge
Want to complete one of our legacy Club Hike or Trifecta challenges? While we are phasing out our club hikes and trifecta challenge, these activities are still a part of our new Zion Explorer Club! For a limited time you can continue to earn the club medallions or pin in addition to earning points towards your Zion Explorer Club badge. You won't need to submit a photo like in year's past.
If you complete any of the official club hikes or the trifecta as a part of the other activities of the Zion Explorer Club, simply check off the activities within the app. If you earn the minimum points to claim the Zion Explorer badge, we'll also ship any club hike medallions or the the trifecta pins along with it.
Clubs & Trifecta
Do one of these Club Hikes within 72 hours of the race to receive a club hike medallion. Completing the the Trifecta Challenge within 72 hours earns you an official Trifecta pin!
These hikes are meant to be difficult and they can sometimes be dangerous. If you choose to attempt any of these hikes, you need to take them seriously. Please check the weather forecast before leaving on your hike, and bring lots of water.
The Eagle Crags Trail, while technically outside the park, is a beautiful and rewarding hike with amazing views of Zion Canyon. It’s a 3-5 hour hike (5.7 miles round trip) up the very scenic Vermillion Cliffs and is located just south of Rockville.
To get to the trailhead, take highway 9 out of Springdale towards Rockville. Once in Rockville, take Bridge Rd. south until you get to the Trailhead (about 2 miles).
Please note: The trail to Observation Point via the East Rim Trail from Weeping rock (within Zion Canyon) is closed indefinitely due to rock-fall. However, there is an alternative way to hike to Observation Point.
Observation Point can be accessed via the East Mesa Trail. The trail works its way out to the edge of the canyon rim and offers absolutely astounding panoramic views.
To get to the trailhead- head about 1.7 miles east of Zion National Park's border along SR-9 and head north onto North Fork Road. Follow this road for roughly 5.2 miles, then turn left onto a dirt road (Pine Angle Rd/Twin Knolls Rd) that heads west as you pass through the Zion Ponderosa gate. Stay on this road for about 1.5 miles then turn right onto Beaver Rd. Stay on this road for about 1.2 miles. At this point, depending on recent precipitation- the roads could get a little tricky. If the road looks good, stay right, driving onto Rocky Rd./Fir Rd. to the trailhead. If the road seems a little hairy at this point, find a good place to pull off and and park and walk the extra quarter mile to the trailhead. Please use your best judgement.
* This hike is 6.5 miles and can take up to 3.5 hours to complete
*Double Arch Club
The hike along the Taylor Creek Trail to Double Arch Alcove is gorgeous and historic. Located about two miles past the Kolob Canyon entrance of Zion National Park, the trail head will take you into a narrow box canyon to the extremely photogenic alcove. As you criss cross along Taylor Creek, you will also pass Larson Cabin and Fife Cabin, two homesteads from the 1930’s.
This hike will be most convenient for those who have to head North after the race, or who just want to spend time in Kolob Canyon after the race (which you should!). The trailhead is about two miles in from the Kolob Canyon park entrance!
The Chinle Trail was once called the Petrified Forest Trail as hikers will encounter petrified wood along portions of the trail. Although maybe a little less scenic than the main canyon of Zion, this is a great option for those looking for a little more solitude. Enjoy views of West Temple, Mount Kinesava, and Eagle Crags along the way. To get to the trailhead, drive southwest on highway 9 for a couple of miles out of Springdale. Turn right (north) onto Anasazi Way, then take the first right to get to the parking area. Please do not disturb or take items like petrified wood from the park.
Zion Half Marathon Trifecta
For those looking for something challenging but less strenuous, we have the Zion Trifecta! The Trifecta is comprised of 3 different activities. You must complete all 3 in order to complete the Trifecta.
These are iconic activities inside the park that should be experienced, but are doable with children. The 3 activities that makeup the Trifecta are:
- Riverside Walk
- Canyon Overlook
- Kolob Canyon (Timber Creek Overlook)
You must complete all 3 in order to complete the Trifecta within 72 hours after finishing the race. Those who complete the Trifecta will receive a commemorative pin!
Riverside Walk (a.k.a., "The Narrows")
The trail was historically called “Gateway to the Narrows” but is now commonly referred to as Riverside Walk. A nice, paved, 3 mile round trip hike. At the end of the trail you can walk as far down into the Narrows as you dare, taking in the beauty of the area.
*This hike takes about 1.5 hours to complete
Canyon Overlook is only a mile round trip hike! This is perfect for families and offers a wonderful view of the Zion canyon with a look at the famous peaks like Bridge Mountain, West Temple, and The Sentinel. As an added bonus, when you drive up to the parking lot to make the short hike to the lookout, you get to pass through the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel!
* This hike is one mile and takes about an hour to complete
*Kolob Canyon (Timber Creek overlook)
Kolob Canyon is Zion’s best kept secret. About an hour north on I-15 from the main park entrance, this part of the park is less often visited by travelers, but it’s amazingly beautiful. The Timber Creek Trail is another short hike (1.2 miles round trip) that offers amazing views of Kolob Canyon. After about a 5 mile drive up the canyon you can park in a parking lot at the trail head.
*This hike is 0.5 miles and takes about an hour to complete
*Potential Closures In The Park
Zion National Park had several closures that may impact your visit. Conditions may change by race weekend. We have included a variety of club hike options should any of these trail be closed.
•Observation Point was closed last January to due rock fall. Please do not attempt this hike via East Rim from Weeping Rock Trail
•Double Arch Alcove and Timbercreek Overlook are accessed via Kolob Canyon. Access should be open race weekend, but be prepared for snow, ice, or slush.
We are running this race at night for a few reasons:
- The trails are crowded with mountain bikers and others recreating during the day. Running at night allows us to cut down on congestion and crowding.
- The temperatures in Southern Utah this time of year can be hot. Nighttime will be cooler, comfortable running weather.
- Running at night will be unique and beautiful.
We understand the concerns regarding COVID19. This event complies with local health and safety guidelines and is permitted with the appropriate agencies. We are taking every consideration to make this a fun, enjoyable experience while also prioritizing health and safety. Among other precautions, a few steps we have taken to ensure compliance are:
- Social distancing will be facilitated and runners should wear face masks when distancing is not possible
- Spectators are discouraged from being at the finish
- Water stations will be hands-free, with a foot pedal system to dispense water and Gnarly Hydrate (electrolyte drink).
Each runner will receive a race shirt and an individualized bib. All finishers will receive a glow in the dark finisher medal as well.
There will be age group awards, but no awards ceremony at the event. These will be mailed out after the race.
Runners can show up as early as 30 minutes BEFORE their scheduled start time (and should not arrive any earlier). They may also start their race with our rolling start up to 30 minutes AFTER their scheduled start time (but should start no later).
Just like our other half marathon events, runners will have 4 hours to finish the race.
Though this course will have fewer aid stations than our typical half marathon events, we will have an aid station set up near mile 3.6, and 9.7, with a water-only station in the middle at mile 6.2. The aid stations will have water, Gnarly Hydrate, and Honey Stinger Gels. Aid stations will also have composting toilets.
Reminder- runners will need to carry their own form of hydration to refill at aid stations. Hydrapouches will not be provided.
Yes! You may use a deferment code/deferment credit from another race to run the Zion at Night (Small Group Half Marathon). If you have previously transferred from another race already, you will need to contact customer service to get a new deferment code to transfer to this race.