Zion Narrows

1-18 Pictures

Temple of SinawavaTemple of Sinawava (05/27/2003) The Temple of Sinawava is the last stop of the Zion Bus. A trails from here leads along the Virgin River into the narrows.

Towering Sandstone CliffsTowering Sandstone Cliffs (05/27/2003) Towering cliffs in the Temple of Sinawava.

Resting PlaceResting Place (05/27/2003) Things erode quickly in the desert as this young tree has discovered. It is now balanced on a rock.

TransitionTransition (05/27/2003) The transition from the Navajo Sandstone to the Kayenta Shale makes for some interesting rock sculpture.

Riverside WalkRiverside Walk (05/27/2003) The riverside walk into the Zion Narrows is one of the most popular trails in a popular park. The people are happy, smiling and polite. This picture was taken Memorial Day 2003.

Side PoolSide Pool (05/27/2003) A side pool along the Riverside Walk glistens in the sun.

Canyon SpringsCanyon Springs (05/27/2003) The Navajo Sandstone is porous. The Kayenta Shale is not. As a result there is a number of springs at the transition between the geological layers.

Zion NarrowsZion Narrows (05/27/2003) The Zion Narrows end when the Virgin River cuts down into the harder Kayenta layer. The canyon is a slot canyon when it is in the Navajo sandstone, but forms a U shaped valley when it breaks into the kayenta.

Hanging GardensHanging Gardens (05/27/2003) There is a large number of hanging gardens just before the narrows. The yellow flowers are columbine.

Hanging GardenHanging Garden (05/27/2003) A hanging garden at the transformation from Navajo to Kayenta shale.

Desert SpringDesert Spring (05/27/2003) The desert springs helps cool down the Riverside Walk.

Riverside WalkRiverside Walk (05/27/2003) The Riverside walk is paved and wide enough for people to pass. You see interesting flowers and rocks.

Virgin River NarrowsVirgin River Narrows (05/27/2003) The Virgin River Narrows are the most popular destination in the park (especially on hot days.) The narrows go back several miles.

Virgin River NarrowsVirgin River Narrows (05/27/2003) Hikers splash up the narrows. The river bottom is composed of large rocks...you will want a shoe with a good stiff bottom.

Canyon ForestCanyon Forest (05/27/2003) A forest of Pine finds a small shoulder to cling to.

Riverside WalkRiverside Walk (05/27/2003) The narrows is a popular place to visit on Mememorial Day weekend.

StoneworkStonework (05/27/2003) Stone work on the riverside walk.

Mule DeerMule Deer (05/27/2003) There are many mule deer living in the canyon. The long ears help dissipate heat.

1-18 Pictures

The Riverside Walk to the Virgin River Narrows is the most popular hike in Zion National Park, especially on a hot summer day. The trail is a wide paved affair that allows parties to walk four abreast. It is easy walking. When you get to the narrows you need to be prepared to stomp off into the water.

The best walking gear for the canyon is an old pair of running shoes or sneakers that you are willing to get wet. You can walk several miles up into the river...but your shoes will be worse for the wear. Unfortunately, on this trip, I did not heed my own advice and went with a brand new pair of hiking shoes. Sandals and flip flops usually do not do well in the river--even the expensive sandals seem to have problems when walking for long distances in water. It is also best to wear a swim suit when hiking the canyon, because you are going to get wet.

The trail starts at the Temple of Sinawava. This is the last stop for the park buses the run up and down the canyon. The trail starts with a please stroll along the Riverside Walk. This is a paved trail that passes many hanging gardens and desert marshes. It is a fragile ecosystem, so you don't want to get off the trail.

The geology of the area is quite interesting. The Navajo Sandstone is a porous rock. It sits atop the Kayenta Shale which is not permeable. As a result water flows along the top of the Kayenta layer and drips out in the over hanging garden.

You will notice that the narrows start at the junction of the Kayenta Shale and Navajo Sandstone. Above this geological transition the Virgin River carves a narrow canyon that runs from wall to wall, below the transformation, the river carves a U shaped valley. Again, this happens as a result of the different structure of the rocks. The Navajo sandstone is a softer rock, that the river can cut straight through, the Kayenta layer is harder.

The area at the mouth of the narrows will gradually erode into a U shaped valley.  In the future, the large sandstone walls near the transformation will shear off, crash to the ground and be washed away by the Virgin River.

You can walk several miles up the narrows. Unfortunately, I was wearing the wrong pair of shoes and had to walk in the water bare foot. Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch.

Finish Line

Context: Desert

Zion National Park (66 pictures) The narrows are in the main Zion Canyon.

Angels Landing (59 pictures) Angels Landing is another popular hike in Zion National Park.

Zion - Canyon Observation Point Trail (19 pictures) The Canyon Overview Trail is a fun walk in the park as well.

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