Aztec Adventures

Zion National Park Camping & Hiking Exploration

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Left Double Quotation Mark

I had an amazing time, I was able to escape from the routine and clutter back at school and do one of my favorite activities, camping. My favorite moment was hiking the Narrows with this group of new friends.

This was my first time in Zion and it was the best experience I've had with SDSU. My favorite part of the trip was camping under the starry night sky.

About Zion National Park Camping & Hiking Exploration

Zion National Park is the first National Park of Utah. Its rich cultural history to ancient native and pioneer people provides a great background full of adventure and stories. Visions or canyons created in sandstone rise on the horizon as we enter. We will camp enjoying day hikes navigating as much of Zion National Park as possible. Opportunities abound to enhance our cultural and historical appreciation of this extraordinary National Park.

Zion National Park Camping & Hiking Exploration


Pre-Trip Meeting: A mandatory pre-trip meeting is held on a weekday evening before your outing. You will meet the leaders and other trip members, as well as cover all details such as weather, menu, safety issues, and clothing requirements.

Day 1: This trip departs no later than 9am on Thursday morning taking a good 10 hours through Las Vegas into Utah by van to arrive at Zion National Park.  We will be staying in two adjacent reserved campsites within Watchman Campground—along with hundreds of other campers.  The campsites are within close proximity to restrooms with running water.  Each campsite contains a picnic table and fire pit.  Because of limited tent space, you will be expected to share a tent with one or two people of the same gender.

Day 2:  Friday, up early and enjoying a big breakfast. With a trail lunch packed, we will make an energetic attempt to hike a section of the Narrows from Temple of Sinawava to Big Springs.  With magnificent views of the Narrows wading through the river, this will be a great day for adventure.  Return to our campsites and enjoy a delicious Dutch oven dinner and dessert before reflecting upon our day around the campfire.

Day 3:  Saturday, after another hearty breakfast, pack up our trail lunch and secure camp.  We will take off for the day to hike to Angel’s Landing familiarizing ourselves with views from above. We will continue our day hikes to the Court of Patriarchs, Emerald Pools or Kolb Arch.  Enjoy another great dinner and campfire as this will be our last night camping together. 

Day 4:  Sunday, pack up and depart after breakfast.  We will make a quick stop to day hike around the Hoover Dam near the Boulder City. We hope to return to SDSU before 9pm on Sunday evening.

Packing List

We are limited on space, and the less stuff you bring, the less you have to carry around. Ask yourself…What would I want in the coldest weather or the hottest weather? Pack to be prepared for both!

Things that should be packed inside your personal day pack
and kept with you inside the van:

  • Small day pack
  • Money for road meals
  • A warm layer
  • Headlamp
  • Travel size pillow
  • Water
  • Snack food
  • Camera




  • Sunglasses w/retainer strap
  • Personal stuff — extra contact lenses, chap-stick, sunscreen, baby wipes, baby powder, ear plugs, hand lotion, medications you usually take…
  • 2 durable crush proof one liter water bottles or a hydration pack
  • Toilet paper in a Ziploc bag
  • Small, light weight fast drying camp towel



  • Wide brimmed shade hat
  • Beanie / stocking cap
  • Bandana


  • Gloves


  • Tennis shoes with good ankle support
  • Hiking Socks
  • Hiking Shoes  Boots


  • Cotton or synthetic blend hiking shirt (breathable layer)
  • Cotton or synthetic camp shirt (a clean shirt to wear at camp)
  • Synthetic Long Sleeve Top(s) – Polypro, Capilene, or polyester.
  • Fleece jacket or sweatshirt
  • Sports bra
  • Windbreaker


  • Nylon shorts
  • Light weight long pants/ cotton or synthetic hiking pants
  • Rain Pants (Aztec Adventures can provide this if you don’t have your own!)
  • Sweatpants
  • Underwear
  • Synthetic long underwear (top & bottom)
  • Bathing suit

Personal Equipment:
Provided by Aztec Adventures

  • 20? sleeping bag and Thermarest sleeping pad
  • Ground Tarp
  • Tent with rain fly (sleeps 2-3)
  • Head lamp
  • Camp chair
  • Rain gear (if you don’t have your own)
  • Coffee mug, bowl, and utensils
  • Pack Bag: to hold all of the above items PLUS your personal gear and clothes

Group Equipment:
Provided by Aztec Adventures

  • Expedition First Aid Kit
  • Ground Tarp
  • Stoves, fuel and all cooking gear-pots, pans, utensils, spice kit etc.
  • Repair kit for tents, stoves, packs, etc.
  • Water bags — 2+ gallon bags for camp use
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts
  • Satellite Phone
Zion National Park Camping & Hiking Exploration


We take great pride in the equipment we provide our trip members. We fully realize that sleeping warm and comfortable, staying dry and being able to see in the dark, just to mention a few items, is essential to a successful and safe trip. We carry top of the line tents, sleeping bags, foam pads, backpacks, dry bags, rain gear, head lamps, wetsuits, spray jackets, and much more. The cost of your trip includes group-gear outfitting.


Aztec Adventures aspires towards a sustainable future. We work hard to prepare meals that are nutritious, delicious and sustainable. Most of our menu consists largely of vegetarian meals as we believe eating lower on the food chain is both healthier for us and the planet in the long run. Our primary goal is to expose and educate our trip members to the joys of eating good food while camping and adventuring. We have found, over many years that our trip members thoroughly enjoy the food we prepare and serve and do not miss a meat centered diet. In addition, when travelling by vehicle to and from our outdoor destinations, we make every effort to stop at locally-family owned restaurants and eateries so as to ensure the majority of the money we spend stays in that community and with the family.

We will be staying in two adjacent reserved campsites within Watchman Campground at Zion National Park-along with hundreds of other campers. The campsites are within very close proximity to restrooms with running water, however there are NO showers. Each campsite will also have plenty of space for our tents and each contains a picnic table and campfire pit. You will have the option to share a tent with one or two people or sleep out under the cover of the stars. Light weight tents, warm synthetic sleeping bags, foam pads and ground tarps will be provided to ensure a comfortable night's sleep. The ground consists of hard rock. Reminder that afternoon showers are always a possibility and can lead to flashfloods. It is important to be sure to keep oneself clean and dry. It is recommended to bring clothes just for camp to change into removing hiking clothes to be hung and dried. Additionally, we require that all individuals clean/ sanitize their hands before every meal and snack. Personal hygiene will be addressed at the pre-trip meeting to keep oneself healthy and clean in the wilderness.

Physical Challenge

All of our Aztec Adventure Outings programs have a level of physical challenge associated with the type of activity. Each program is rated on a scale from 0 to 3. A rating score from 0 to 1 indicates our least strenuous adventure reserved mostly for beginners. Moreover, a rating score from 1 to 2 indicates a moderate trip or intermediate level. (most of our trips align with this rating). Finally, a rating score between 2 to 3 refers to strenuous trip or advanced level. We encourage everyone to find a trip that best suits your skills and abilities. Please note the specific trip notes below and any prerequisites announced for this trip.

Trip members should be in good physical condition for hiking on very steep terrain and capable of carrying a daypack of approximately 10-15 pounds filled with water, lunch and other essentials (covered at pre-trip meeting). From now until the trip begins, we highly encourage you to get in shape. Locally speaking, if you can comfortably hike up and down Cowles Mountain with a 15 pound pack in a matter of a couple of hours—consider yourself prepared for the hiking portion of this trip.

TRIP RATING 2 out of 3

Hiking in Zion is strenuous on the legs. The trail conditions, while maintained, are steep, exposed and slippery due to winter weather at certain heights or time of day. We could be hiking for the better part of six hours a day. Staying well hydrated, taking your time, resting when necessary (but not for too long), and keeping your energy level high is essential.


Each participant enrolled in an Aztec Camping & Hiking Adventure must be able to carry a day pack weighing approximately 10-15 lbs and be physically fit to hike in three to six mile trail systems.


Our outings take place in remote areas where environmental conditions are uncontrollable. The leaders will try hard to make you aware of potential hazards, both human and environmental to the best of our abilities. Safety is an individual and group responsibility because one person’s careless injury often results in more hardship for the rest of the group not just his/her own. Please, before registering, we strongly request that you carefully read and understand our Assumption of Risk, Liability Waiver, Medical Disclosure Form and Cancellation Policies. Each outing may have prerequisites associated with the type of trip. Be sure to review the specific prerequisites can be found in the Physical Challenge section of your specific trip.

The Associated Students, Inc. of SDSU, Aztec Recreation, Aztec Adventures Outdoor Program and its employees assume no liability for any damages arising from any of our outings. Any person participating on an Aztec Adventures outing is personally responsible for his/her own safety.

There are numerous risks and hazards associated Zion National Park. Items to be aware of include: Mountain Lions and other animals (raccoons, squirrels, deer, and chipmunks). It is required to store all of our food and personal toiletries in the large steel boxes provided in each campsite, when not in use, to prevent animals from becoming habituated to humans and/or causing harm or injury. While trails are well maintained, they can still be slippery and rugged. We will be hiking up hill and downhill which always results in exposure to cliff faces and other large drop offs. Not dressing appropriately can result in hypothermia; not drinking enough water results in dehydration and not being in adequate physical condition can result in sore muscles. Trip members must make a conscious effort to be safe. One person's disdain for safety will always result in more hardship for the group. If we do have an accident or injury that requires medical attention beyond the scope of our leader's experience, the trip is immediately over without refund. Our leaders are trained to administer first aid in an outdoor environment; however, while they may be able to treat injuries they cannot always prevent them.

Emergency Care

In the event of an accident, injury, illness or missing trip member, the leaders of your outing will attempt to provide first aid to the level of their training and arrange search and evacuation assistance when determined necessary. Our leaders may or may not be carrying communication devices and emergency help may be difficult to arrange. Costs of evacuation or search (helicopter, etc.) and of medical care beyond first aid that is provided by the leaders will be the financial responsibility of the ill or injured person. Emergency services in remote areas are costly. Short term medical and evacuation insurance is advised for those without a comprehensive policy. Please check with your doctor if you have any health problems that may interfere with participation.

Zion National Park Camping & Hiking Exploration

Trip Member Expectations:

Our hope is that each trip member will commit to making a positive contribution to our group of 10 to 12. We will travel as one group, and share the work as one collective group. The leaders will at times need to make decisions based on the needs of the group—not the special needs of one individual. This is a group experience and everyone is expected to help with all the camping tasks such as cooking meals, and clean up, setting up camp, and organizing gear. The Aztec Adventures Outdoor Program is all about promoting a healthy social environment where everyone feels comfortable and is included in the process of becoming a close-knit group. Unfortunately, if you are the independent type that prefers to do things alone, our trips may not be a good match for you.

Trip Member Responsibilities:

  • Please accurately and completely furnish all personal information requested on the Medical Disclosure Form.
  • Carefully review all information about the trip. Ask questions if you have specific needs or concerns.
  • Thoroughly understand the physical and mental demands of the outing as well as the risks. Acknowledge and accept those risks to be encountered.
  • Equip yourself in accordance with the packing list and recommendations of the Aztec Adventures staff.
  • Follow Leave No Trace practices and safety guidelines established by the trip leaders and land management agencies.
  • Respect the customs of locales to where we will travel and visit.
  • Always respect the rights and privacy of other trip members.

Since our outings travel in small groups, we have found that all it takes is one person disregarding policy to create a negative and/or dangerous experience for the whole group. Our leaders do not enjoy being disciplinarians, but will take action when someone is jeopardizing the safety of others and ultimately the future of our program. At the leader’s discretion, a trip member may be asked to leave the trip if it is felt that the person’s further participation (or lack of) may be detrimental to the outing or to others. In this case, the excluded person will be responsible for signing an additional liability waiver and covering all costs related to leaving the trip.

EAT GOOD FOOD - all successful expeditions throughout history have depended on good food and ample quantity. Great outdoor leaders take real pride in the meals they prepare and serve to trip members. It is widely agreed upon in our profession that food is one way extraordinary programs distinguish themselves from the ordinary. No matter the weather conditions or physical challenges of any given trip—every trip members’ attitude and enjoyment become more positive when served a delicious meal.

BE KIND - to the natural environment, to each other and the local populace or communities we visit. A commitment to teaching and embracing Leave No Trace principles and practices is vital to protecting our program areas. A perceptive outdoor leader is always kind and understanding, showing genuine concern for trip members’ wellbeing. Kind leaders greet people with a big smile; make a point of immediately learning names, and answer questions cheerfully and thoroughly. They are aware that the outing is the trip member’s big adventure and enters into their excitement—thereby renewing their own. Above all, the perceptive leader knows that sincere kindness is deeply reassuring to our trip members.

TELL THE TRUTH - about our personal limitations and abilities as well as in all of our "programmatic" endeavors. It is very important that leaders possess the integrity to acknowledge what they know and what they don’t know. Only when a leader is aware of their weaknesses can s/he work to improve. It is also vital to the future of our program to act and communicate with the utmost honesty with all of our partners whether they are public land managers, local businesses or our trip members. We strive hard to eliminate all hidden costs from our program fees and promote the facts behind our Aztec Recreation/A.S. budget subsidy.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE - in the lives of our trip members and staff through meaningful and complete outdoor experiences. Every person that makes a commitment to become involved with our program deserves the best effort we can put forth to make their time with us or trip a special experience. Leaders should always expect that the next trip they lead has the potential to make a positive change in their trip members’ lives. Our staff, in turn, should expect that their hard work and dedication will be acknowledged in ways that will continue long after they graduate or move-on from the program.

LEAVE NO TRACE – Aztec Adventure programming is committed to role modeling an environmental ethic and teaching our trip members to minimize their impact. We abide by LEAVE NO TRACE—Center for Outdoor Ethics and regulations of the places our programs visit.

LEAVE NO TRACE is a national and international program designed to assist outdoor enthusiasts with their decisions about how to reduce their impacts when they hike, camp, picnic, snowshoe, run, bike, hunt, paddle, ride horses, fish, ski or climb. The program strives to educate all those who enjoy the outdoors about the nature of their recreational impacts as well as techniques to prevent and minimize such impacts. Leave No Trace is best understood as an educational and ethical program, not as a set of rules and regulations. For an amazing amount of information visit the Leave No Trace website

Zion National Park Camping & Hiking Exploration

Our trip prices strive to be all inclusive. Round trip transportation, quality instruction and leadership, all meals, including snacks and desserts while in the field, and personal equipment outfitting are included in the cost of the trip. Of course we provide all safety and group gear, along with camping fees and permits. Aztec Adventures receives a small subsidy from Associated Students annually through student activity fees. The subsidy offsets a portion of our administrative costs. Please do not let the price be the deciding factor as our trips have amazing intrinsic value that will provide lasting memories.

In the event you must cancel from your trip the following fees apply:

  • 1-5 DAY TRIPS:
  • 21+ days prior to departure
    75% Refund
  • 15-20 days prior to departure
    50% Refund
  • 0-14 days prior to departure
    No Refund
  • 6-30 DAY TRIPS:
  • 60+ days prior to departure
    75% Refund
  • 30-59 days prior to departure
    50% Refund
  • 0-29 days prior to departure
    No Refund

Transferring from one trip to another is equal to a cancellation and must be done within the aforementioned deadline to avoid loss of fees.

Sometimes we must cancel a program due to low enrollment. In this situation we contact trip members a minimum of two weeks prior to the program and they are eligible for a full refund or credit voucher good for the remaining academic year.

In the event of cancellation due to unforeseeable circumstances (bad weather, natural disaster, or staff emergency), we will make every effort to reschedule the outing. Again, trip members are eligible for a full refund or credit voucher.

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