I'd visited Zion twice before this trip, in 2011 and 2012. I was blown away by the beauty of the park, and no part of it was more intriguing than the Virgin River narrows. My love for canyoneering came from some early trips I'd done that were extended, non-technical canyon backpacking trips, in places like Wet Beaver Creek and Tonto Creek. Trips that involved wading and swimming along wild waterways in incredibly beautiful settings. This is the most fun type of backpacking trip out there. The Zion Narrows, therefore, presented an irresistably beguiling challenge. Here was the absolute peak of this type of backpacking. The actual narrows were closed on both previous trips I'd taken, which only heightened my desire. I hiked in along the paved tourist trail on both previous trips, and just seeing the scenery on that section of canyon was enough to lock me in. I was GOING to do this hike, it was just a matter of when.
|This was as far as I got the first time I visited in 2011|
Finally, in 2013, I pulled the trigger. I did some research on the Zion permit system, which is not nearly as bad as Grand Canyon, and managed to secure a campsite in the Narrows for a mid-May Saturday with no problem. I reserved the Friday before off from work. I also managed to sneak out of work by mid-day Thursday, so I was able to roll into the Hurricane/St George Utah area by sunset Thursday night. Using a few different guidebooks, I put together a plan to do a variety of dayhikes on Friday before launching into the Narrows the next day. This would also give me the opportunity to pick up my permit from the Zion BC office the day before as well. I snuggled into an awesome campsite at Snow Canyon State Park on Thursday night.
|Highly recommended if you need a St George campsite|
|Petrified Sand Dunes|
The Petrified Dunes trail is a little marvel of engineering, routed right over the top of the rock formations, similar to the Devil's Garden trail at Arches.
|Snow Canyon view|
|inside a lava tube|
|Entrance to the Kanarra Creek narrows|
|This was my facebook photo for a long time|
|Upper Falls, Kanarra Creek|
I made my way back out to the highway and drove onward to Springdale. The water in Kanarra had been a bit of a wakeup call. While mid-May would have been entirely comfortable in Wet Beaver Canyon, it was still pretty cold up in Zion, and the flow was strong and steady. I decided to reserve a wetsuit at Zion Adventure Company for the Narrows, which would turn out to be a wise decision. After a fast lunch in Springdale, I entered the main part of Zion and set up camp at Watchman campground. It was now about 3:30 PM - just enough time to whip out one more hike for the day.
|Watch your step|
The hike really is perfectly safe, but it SEEMS risky, and so reaching the top is a totally exhilarating experience. It helps that the view is one of the best I've ever seen.
|Worth the effort|
|upper part of Zion Narrows|
As you get deeper into the canyon, the greenery becomes less and less frequent, and the wall-to-wall sections become longer and more and more stunning. This is the upper narrows. It's a total paradise - unlike any other place I'd visited. I walked along in total enchantment. I was grateful to be hiking alone as well, as I was undistracted by the chatter than can sometimes pre-occupy a group. Instead, I was able to quiet my mind and just soak in the beauty.
|a 12-foot falls you bypass on the south|
|In the upper narrows|
|Walking with beauty|
|huge sections of narrows|
Several miles below the swim, the river enters the lower narrows at a section called Wall Street. Somehow, this section managed to top the upper narrows, with massive walls, clear flowing water, grottoes, and light like I've seen nowhere else. I'm not doing justice to the place at all with this description. In a lifetime spent in stunning places, the Zion Narrows tops the list. Hiking through Wall Street left little doubt that this was one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
|In the tourist section of the narrows. Still not too shabby :)|