Field Institute classes add to Zion experience

Spring may be the best of all times to visit Utah’s Zion National Park, offering delights unique to the season. The landscape is greening up, young leaves are growing on the deciduous trees, and some of the birds can be seen nesting. Weather is often ideal for hiking and sightseeing.

You can get double your value for springtime days spent here by participating in one or more of the varied educational workshops offered through Zion Canyon Field Institute. The institute operates year-round but April is especially packed with workshops.

April 1, Spring Birds in Zion. Track and observe birds along the Virgin River, the benchlands and lower slopes of the canyon. Learn good tracking techniques while you observe migratory and year-round birds. 8 a.m.-noon. Ages 16 years and up. $45.

April 8, Mojave Wildflowers. April is the best month to see wildflowers in the St. George area. Meets at St. George Bureau of Land Management office, 345 E. Riverside Drive, St. George, Utah. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Full day, ages 15 and up. $65.

April 13, Thursday Trek. Join a naturalist for an introduction to the geology, flora and fauna and the cultural history of the park. 9 a.m.-2 p.m., ages 15 and up. $45.

April 15, Low Desert Wildflowers. Explore and learn about the Mojave Desert flora that are blooming now in the extreme southwestern area of the park. 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Ages 15 years and up. $60.

April 15 and 16, Zion Through the Lens. Field Institute Director Michael Plyler, an expert photographer, takes attendees out on the trail to learn techniques for operating your camera in full manual mode. You will need to have your own camping or lodging accommodations. 9 a.m. Saturday to 7 p.m. Sunday, ages 16 and up. $225.

April 20 or May 4, Archaeological Field Day. Go afield with a Zion archaeologist doing survey work, cataloging or other tasks. 9 a.m.-4 p.m., ages 16 and up. $60.

April 22, Zion and the Colorado River Basin. Topics covered while on the trail will be Colorado Basin geography, Virgin River management and riparian ecology. 8 a.m.-noon, 15 years and up. $45.

April 22, Zion Geology. Take short hikes and learn about the remarkable rock underpinnings of the park. You will see evidence of rock falls and landslides and the role of water in shaping Zion. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. $60.

Except where otherwise noted, the meeting place for the workshops is at the Zion National Park Human History Museum, just inside the park’s entrance. Since temperatures fluctuate greatly throughout the day and some of the excursions will reach higher elevations, be sure to wear layers of clothing which you can shed or resume as conditions require.

Reservations for classes and workshops are necessary, and they fill up fast. Contact the Zion Canyon Field Institute,, 800-635-3959 or 435-772-3264.

Many of Deborah Wall’s columns have been compiled in the book “Base Camp Las Vegas, Hiking the Southwestern States.” She is also the author of “Great Hikes, a Cerca Country Guide” and a co-author of the book “Access For All, Seeing the Southwest With Limited Mobility.” Wall can be reached at

Directions to Zion

From Boulder City take U.S. Highway 93/95 north to Las Vegas. Merge right to Interstate 15 north and drive 125 miles to Utah Route 9 (Exit 16 – Hurricane/Zion National Park). Follow Route 9 east for 32 miles to Springdale, Utah, and Zion National Park.