Zion at Night Half Marathon
THIS RACE IS IN THE VAULT
In 2023, we are not hosting the Zion at Night Half Marathon.
Instead, we're re-thinking how we can share this course with you. Plus, we may be looking into a wider variety of night races for you in the future.
Scroll down for event details
Apple Valley, UT
Mixed Road & Trail
Weather: 82/48°F (nighttime weather applies)
Spectators? Start/Finish line only
Stroller/wheelchair friendly? No
Required equipment: Personal headlamp or light to navigate the trail
Travel to Apple Valley, UT
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 La Verkin, 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.
Zion National Park
We realize that the races in this series are out of the way for most runners, and it may be the only time that you visit these breathtaking areas. One of our biggest desires is that you walk away from this event having fully experienced what the region has to offer.
While in the area we encourage you to continue the adventure and spend time in the parks!
Zion Explorer Club
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 possible. We have created a scavenger hunt made up of all kinds of adventures and experiences you can have here at the park.
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 National Park 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 at the park, you should be able to plan an amazing itinerary with these suggestions!
Download the Neocaching app to start exploring!
1. Get Started
Download the app and join the correct Explorer Club for your park.
2. Choose Your Own Adventure
Use our curated list of local hikes and activities to create an unforgettable weekend. Then - get out there and explore!
3. Log Your Activities
Log enough activities to earn 1500pts within 7 days of your VR to become an official Explorer Club member (and receive a special badge!)
Recommended Hikes & Activities
Note: You are responsible for your safety if you attempt to participate in any of these activities. Always check the weather before starting a hike, and speak with a park or forest ranger for updated information regarding trail conditions, closures, and permits.
Angels Landing: This popular hike offers spectacular views of the main canyon from 1,500ft above the valley floor. Click here for trail description.
If you have any energy left and you are looking for more miles after making it to the overlook, we would encourage you to continue up the amazing West Rim trail, which you will be using to access the Angel’s Landing spur trail.
The Narrows/Riverside Walk: This is a “must see” while you are here if the spring runoff is in your favor. Your feet will get wet on this one, and other than the approach on the paved river trail, there will not be much running involved. Click here for a trail description of the Narrows.
*April runoff can make it difficult to get very far up into the narrows. If that's the case, you can substitute this hike with an exploration of Hidden Canyon. Click here for Hidden Canyon trail description.
Taylor Creek: This would be an easy and beautiful warm up run that you can check off if you're coming from the north on I-15. It's a stunning and scenic 2.5 miles in (5 miles round trip) w/ little elevation gain. It is less than 5 minutes from I-15 to the trailhead via the Kolob Canyons entrance to Zion National Park. (It has always amazed me how little use the trails in this area of the park get when they are so close to the freeway. They are tucked away and well hidden from view from I-15 although very accessible.)
Parunaweap: An out and back down to the river via the Checkerboard Mesa Escape Route requires some route finding skills. This canyon is pristine and seldom seen and well worth the effort.
Eagle Crags: This is one of the BLM trails located in the Mt. Canaan wilderness area adjacent to the park that is every bit as scenic as trails located within the park boundaries. Beautiful views into Lower Parunaweap Canyon from the overlook.
Water Canyon–Squirrel Canyon: If you’ve seen it all in Zion or want to get into the rarely visited outreaches of the backcountry, this 11 mile loop is one of my favorites of all time.
The Subway: If you're one of the lucky ones to obtain one of the 80 daily issued permits to hike the Left Fork of North Creek, don’t pass up the opportunity.
Trans Zion (Zion Traverse): Anyone crazy enough to do this epic route within a week from race day deserves major props! As always, check with the park to ensure each trail section is open and accessible to the public, and watch the weather forecast.
This race is held 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.
Get a feel for the terrain and landscape that await you out on the course!
Note: The majority of the race takes place at night and becomes quite remote and difficult to access. For that reason, race photos may not be offered at this event.
Zion at Night Logistics
Come here to prepare for your race weekend!
Maps & Elevation
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.
**Note: If you ran this course last year, there is a slight change at about mile 5. You will be turning onto a connector trail to reach the rim to get onto the Windmill Trail. This alternative trail to reach the rim is less than a half a mile.
Just west of Smithsonian Butte, runners will start out from the Ruby Rider Ranch in Apple Valley, UT. You will immediately turn left over the cattle guard and head west out toward Gooseberry Mesa on a wide dirt road. The climb may look daunting, but from the start line to the highest point on the course, it is less than 450 ft. of gain. Your first aid station will be at about mile 3.7 near the Gooseberry Mesa parking area. Please stick to the right side of the road as there may be fellow runners heading back to the finish line (depending on your start time), and we want to minimize each of you from blinding/flashing each other with your headlamps. You will continue on this road for another 1.3 miles before veering left onto a connector trail. You will continue on this connector trail for about .5 miles before reaching the rim and a junction to Windmill Trail. Please use caution when approaching the rim, especially in the dark. The trail is never right on the edge (at least an 8 ft. buffer), but it is your responsibility to be aware of the risk of running near the rim's edge.
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 slick rock, 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 slick rock throughout the course between miles 5.5-8. 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 slick rock 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 6.1 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 9.5 will be your final chance to refuel before heading back toward the finish.
Continue back on the dirt road heading southeast as you follow the same path you originally ran out on. Please stay to the right in an effort to not blind/flash oncoming runners with your headlamp or flashlight. Better yet, take this opportunity to dim your headlamp; turn it to the red light; or turn it off altogether and enjoy the night sky. For most, your vision will adjust to the dark- but use your judgement and stay safe. This section overall, is fairly mild but you may pick up speed as you descend- so be cautious and slow down if you need to. This course is a little long... At about mile 13.1 you will reach a T in the road. Cross the cattle-guard, make a right turn and head south for a hundred yards or so before turning right into the finish line chute at Ruby Rider Ranch.
Aid Stations: 2 full aid stations, 1 water-only station
Time Limit: 4 hrs.
The event will be timed. The first wave will begin at 6 pm, with a new wave continuing every 30 minutes until 7 am the next morning. Each wave 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. All awards, including overall and masters will be based on chip time.
Our course record holders receive a FREE RACE ENTRY every year that their time remains the course record! The current course record holders are:
Male Overall: Zach Smalls 1:31:59 (2021)
Female Overall: Clarissa Jauregui 1:24:34 (2021)
Male Masters: Alan Squyres 1:40:06 (2021)
Female Masters: Adrienne Koplik 2:08:16 (2021)
The aid stations for this race are fewer and more spread out - it is important that you plan to be more self-sufficient with nutrition and hydration than at our other half marathons.
Expect 3 aid stations on the course at mile 3.7, 6.1 (water and bathrooms only), and 9.5. The aid stations for this race are fewer and more spread out - it is important that you plan to be more self-sufficient with nutrition and hydration than at our other half marathons.
Aid stations at mile 3.7 and 9.5 include toilets, water, Gnarly Hydrate, Honey Stinger gels, and basic first aid supplies.
All stations are cup-free so plan to bring your own hydration solution. We will NOT have reusable cups for runners at the race.
Race Rules and Etiquette
• 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.
• 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 time wave will have a rolling start to help disperse runners, avoid congregation, and thin the crowds.
• This is not a spectator-friendly course. Spectators may send their runner off at the start line, and welcome them at the finish. Please do not try to meet or "follow" your runner on course. It will cause a lot of dust for everyone, and may endanger runners on both side of the dirt road with unnecessary vehicle traffic.
• This is a cup free event. This race will have only 3 aid stations. Runners will need to bring their own form of hydration to refill. Nathan reusable cups 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.
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 reusable cup will be given- runners must bring their own means of hydration to refill at the aid stations and finish line.
Now you can use our maps offline with a gps-enabled device!
We plan to mark the course with such rigor that you should not need your own map to help you find your way. However, we have experienced blown down signs and vandalism in the past. We recommend downloading the free Avenza app (available for iOS, and Android devices) before the event. There you can find our uploaded maps that work without cell coverage.
1. Download the free app "AVENZA MAPS" to your smart-phone or tablet while your device is online. It’s compatible with iOS, and Android devices.
2. Open the app > Tap "Store" (Shopping Cart Icon) > Tap "Find Maps" > Search for the specific distance you would like to download. Type your search exactly as it appears below:
Zion at Night Half Marathon
3. Tap on the label on the map > tap "install" and the map will begin to download.
4. The map is now ready to use “offline”. Simply open the app, click on the Map and your GPS location will appear on the map.
Download the Map
Download the Avenza App
Zion at Night does not have a race expo before the event. Instead, runners have the following choices:
Option #1: Day of the Race
Since we have no expo at Zion at Night, you can pick up your bib near the start line just before your race start time. Please do not come significantly early. You should plan to pick up your bib packet up to 30mins before your specific starting time.
Option #2: Shipped Before the Race
There is a cost of $30 if you want to have your bib and shirt mailed to you. We do this as a convenience for runners not wanting to drive to the area early. You can add a shipped bib to your registration until one month before the race by logging into RunSignup, clicking Manage Registration, and Add Ons.
Refunds: Once your package is shipped, you are officially checked in to the race and no longer qualify for our refund, deferment, or transfer options.
This event takes places from the evening of Friday into the morning of Saturday and is typically held at the end of May. All portions of the event will take place at Ruby Rider Ranch in Apple Valley, UT. All times will be listed in Mountain Time.
Parking at the Start/Finish Line
All parking will be near the start/finish area of the race, located at Ruby Rider Ranch in Apple Valley, UT
Please do not arrive and park earlier than 30 minutes before your assigned start time.
Vehicles will enter and exit at the south entrance. When parking, please follow the directions of any staff or volunteers on-site to park in an orderly manner. Vehicles will be coming and going throughout the night, and many will be returning to their vehicles after the race, in the dark. Your cooperation in maintaining an organized parking lot will be essential.
Runners being dropped off can come directly to the staging & parking area. Vehicles should then immediately exit and head toward Hwy 59.
We expect to welcome spectators back to Zion at Night this year!
However, due to the remote nature of the event (and the fact that it will be nighttime...) we ask spectators to ONLY attend the start and finish line area to greet their runner. You'll be able to park at Ruby Rider Ranch in Apple Valley, UT.
We recommend downloading the RaceJoy app to track your runner's progress and send them cheers along the way! Once your runner has crossed the finish line, please exit the runner recovery area to avoid crowding. The beverages, supplies, and medical tent at the finish line are for runner use only - thank you!
As nature lovers, we are committed to keeping our events sustainable and managing negative impacts on the environment. Our goal is to send less than one bag of actual “trash” to the landfill after each event. We have managed to meet this goal at events with over 3,000 participants!
Here's how you can help us:
Single-use plastic is a huge source of waste at any public event. We have reduced that impact by making our events "cup-free".
What does that mean for you?
Coolers of Water and Gnarly Hydrate (electrolyte drink) are available at all aid stations, but cups will not be provided on course or at the finish line. In order to stay hydrated, we ask you to bring one of the following:
1. Reusable water bottle
2. Nathan reusable cup - These light-weight cups fold down so you can have them on-the-go. We will not have any at the race, so plan to bring your own!
3. Hydration pack - These are refillable backpacks meant for running that allow you to access fluid via a built-in straw.
ZERO WASTE CONTAINERS
You can help us reduce trash by sorting disposable items into the appropriate container.
You’ll notice three containers at our events:
Please avoid putting organic waste and compostable items in the wrong bin. It gets gross to sort through.
Visit RunSignup for current and past race results.
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.
Since start times will stretch 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. Awards will be based on chip time.
Got questions about your placement? please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We do not offer free race photos for this event - the majority of the race takes place at night and becomes quite remote and difficult to access. For that reason, we do not have a photographer on course taking participant photos.
Share your experiences with us!
Be sure to use #ZionatNightHalf in any photos you post from the race or your adventures exploring the park so we can share in the fun with you!
Exclusive Zion at Night Half Marathon merchandise will be available both at the race expo and near the finish line! When possible, we'll have race merch for sale in our online store after the race is over. Please allow time for us to add items online.
Zion at Night FAQ
Anything is possible! We hope to run under the stars at Zion in the future and listen to runner input on what destinations you want to experience.
While we initially launched this night-time race to offer you a race that would avoid crowds, we've kept it for a few reasons:
- 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! This is a chance to experience the sheer awe of the night sky.
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 3.8, and 9.7, with a water-only station in the middle at mile 6.3. 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. Reusable cups will not be provided.
Yes! You may use a deferment code/deferment credit from another race to run the Zion at Night (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.