Friday, October 23, 2015

Zion National Park (Temple of Sinawava), 10/18/2015

Before leaving Utah, we really wanted to take the Riverside Walk along the Virgin River to the Narrows at the Temple of Sinawava at Zion National Park. Even though the day was overcast, we were determined to see what we could. 

Since it was Sunday, the park was a bit less crowded than the previous times that we had visited. The Temple of Sinawava is the northernmost stop up canyon at Zion. The only way to get there is a 40-minute ride on the park shuttle bus (free). We parked at the Visitor Center and hopped on a bus without much of a wait. 

The Riverside Walk is a 2.2 mile round trip easy hike along a paved trail that follows the Virgin River along the bottom of the narrow canyon. The area is a vertical-walled natural amphitheater nearly 3,000' deep. It is the most popular trail at Zion. The area at the bottom of the canyon is a forest due to the river while most of Zion is a desert. 

Water seeps through the stone creating beautiful weeping gardens on the cliff walls.

Rock squirrels can be seen everywhere on the rocks along the river.  


Huge rocks are strewn along the edge of the trail with huge rocks that have broken off from the cliffs above. Here is an example where it is quite obvious where this occurred. 

The Riverside Walk continues upstream and ends at the beginning of the Narrows.

Many hike The Narrows starting at this point. At least 60% of the hike requires wading, walking, and swimming (waist-deep at some points) in the Virgin River. The route is the river so there is no maintained trail. The average width of the canyon is only 20'. Checking the weather for rain is must if you plan to hike the Narrows as even a small amount of rain can cause a flash flood.

After spending some time at the end of the trail, we started the return trip along the Riverside Walk. Here is view heading south along the trail.

The overcast weather turned into light rain, then heavy rain. We had reached the shuttle bus and began the ride down canyon. By the first stop, Big Bend, it was hailing. All shuttle buses were ordered to stop until park rangers could assess (and then clear) the road from debris that covered the road in some sections due to the heavy rain. The waterfalls that spontaneously were created by the heavy rain along the canyon walls were fantastic. After about 20 minutes, the rain stopped and the sun came out creating beautiful light on the cliff walls.

This view to the west was beautiful as well.

After about an hour delay, the shuttle buses received the go-ahead to resume travel along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Mud, rocks, and debris still covered some sections of the road. 

We had previously visited the other stops along the way including the Zion Human History Museum, Court of the Patriarchs, Zion Lodge, The Grotto, and Weeping Rock. The photos from those visits were on my camera that was stolen on October 10, so I did not do a post about them. Regardless, if you are at Zion, it is well worth your time to do some hiking at each of these locations. In particular the Pa'rus Trail (from the Visitor Center or Zion Human History Museum), Lower Emerald Pool Trail (from Zion Lodge), and the Weeping Rock Trail (from Weeping Rock stop) are all easy trails that are fun and interesting. Angels' Landing can also be seen from Weeping Rock and the trailhead is at The Grotto (it is a strenuous 5.4 mile hike to the top but also very popular). 

If you visit Zion, you should definitely take the time to see the Temple of Sinawava along the Riverside Walk. It was one of our favorite forays into the park. 

Admission to Zion National Park is $30/vehicle. Our senior pass gets us in for free. We were thrilled to see this well-known and popular park (about 3.2 million visitors a year). Stop in the Visitor Center first to obtain information about the 18 hiking trails in the park and the wide array of ranger-led activities. Only one (Pa'rus Trail) permits dogs (leashed, of course). There are two large campgrounds in the park and some sites in Watchman Campground have electric hookups. Check out their website for additional information. 


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