Rescued teen stranded overnight in Zion National Park Narrows shares her story

Jul 19, 2023, 7:25 PM | Updated: Jul 20, 2023, 11:40 am

ZION NATIONAL PARK, Utah — A southern Utah teen is recovering after being stranded overnight in The Narrows in Zion National Park, spending the night cold and alone in the canyon. Zion National Park crews rescued the teen Wednesday morning.

Aurelia Lunceford, mother of 14-year-old Aloha Joy, told KSL TV that both the teen and her family spent a sleepless night with Aurelia worried something horrible had happened.

They had gone on a group family hike in The Narrows, but Lunceford explained that the group got split in two between some faster hikers and slower hikers. Aloha wanted to get caught up with the faster group, and accidentally turned down into Orderville Canyon.

The Lunceford family ready for their hike (Aurelia Lunceford)

“She followed who she thought was my brother into Orderville Gulch. She truly thought she was still in The Narrows,” Lunceford said.

However, the further she got, the more challenging the hike became. She got to a huge rock and was determined to scale it so she could “finish catching up with the group.”

“She finally threw her shoes up onto the top hoping to climb with her bare feet,” Lunceford said. “She bruised her knees badly in her attempts to climb the rock and in the end lost her shoes and couldn’t make it.”

At that point, she realized she was all alone and it was beginning to get dark.

“She realized she was lost so she started screaming for help,” Lunceford said. When no one came, she bunkered down for the night.

“I felt prompted to get emergency blankets and thank heavens she had that with her,” Lunceford said.

The two groups each thought Aloha was with the other group, and Lunceford explained they realized after they all finished the hike that she didn’t return.

“When our faster party finally got to us at 10:30 I still thought Aloha was with them,” Lunceford said.  “Imagine my horror when she was unaccounted for.”

They reported her missing to the National Park Service, but the park couldn’t search until the next morning.

“We sent two teams of responders into The Narrows this morning,” said Jonathan Shafer, public affairs specialist at Zion National Park. “They were looking for a party who had been reported as overdue or lost. And they made contact with that person near Orderville Canyon.”

Rescuers brought Aloha safely out of The Narrows.

“And we were very glad that our search and rescue team was able to make contact with them this morning and escort them the rest of the way down that route,” Shafer said.

Aloha was cold and hungry, but OK. Because she lost her shoes, Aloha hiked back out in her socks.

“She didn’t complain even though walking out without shoes was extremely painful. They carried her out on a stretcher when they got to the hot paved path,” Lunceford said.  “People knew about her from Facebook and cheered.”

Aloha was reunited with her family and Lunceford said they were on cloud nine and so happy to have her back. She explained that Aloha told Lunceford that she survived the night by wearing an emergency blanket and staying put once she realized she was lost.

Later in the day Wednesday, she and her family made it back home and Aloha was getting some much-needed rest. Lunceford was so grateful to the search and rescue team, and for all the prayers to bring Aloha home.

Aloha Joy and Aurelia Lunceford (center) stand with Zion National Park Search and Rescue, grateful she made it out safe (Aurelia Lunceford)

“I’m so very grateful for your help in this nightmare,” Lunceford said. “You all certainly brought light.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Americans spend millions of dollars on digital entertainment: movies, music, audiobooks, and e-book...

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage

What happens to your purchased digital movies, music, and e-books when you die?

Americans spend millions of dollars on digital entertainment: movies, music, audiobooks, and e-books. But is any of it really ours to keep? It's a question a Hooper widow is tackling after losing access to her e-books, so she decided to Get Gephardt.

16 minutes ago

The Riverdale Road Denny's is organizing community support for an employee who was hit and critical...

Lauren Steinbrecher

Denny’s restaurant stepping up to help employee injured after being struck by vehicle

The Riverdale Road Denny's is organizing community support for an employee who was hit and critically injured while walking in a crosswalk with her young brother.

28 minutes ago

emergency lights...

Mark Jones

Man killed in a auto-pedestrian collision Monday in North Ogden

A 72-year-old man was killed Monday night in a auto-pedestrian collision.

1 hour ago

(FILE) Logan police arrested a man Monday afternoon following a short pursuit in a stolen vehicle....

Mark Jones

Logan police arrest man following a short pursuit in stolen vehicle

Logan police say a 35-year-old man is in custody following a short pursuit Monday afternoon.

2 hours ago

A Gondola Works sign that has graffiti on it in is pictured near Little Cottonwood Canyon on Wednes...

Mark Jones

Group opposed of gondola project files a lawsuit

A group opposing the Little Cottonwood Canyon gondola project has filed a lawsuit, citing environmental concerns.

2 hours ago

a finger pushing a button on a fire alarm...

Brianna Chavez

Red Cross of Utah sees increase in smoke alarm installation requests, in need of volunteers

The Salt Lake Area Chapter of the American Red Cross said it has seen in increase in requests for free smoke alarm installations. The need is so great, more volunteers are needed.

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

Rescued teen stranded overnight in Zion National Park Narrows shares her story