Day Hiking the Narrows at Zion Canyon


One of the most unique and incredible parts of the Lower Salt River Canyon's systems is the West Rim Trail, the concrete pathway which moves over the canyon bottom, beneath the rim of the main canyon. To the chagrin of some long-time canyon hikers, the concrete path has been narrowed to a single lane with bicycle lanes, where motorized vehicles are forbidden - unless they follow the blue diamonds.


Yet for those who make it to the far end of the Upper Salt River canyon, few sights are more spectacular than the Narrows. The route begins at the Virginia camping area and climbs into the canyon before descending to Lower Rock Creek. From this lower creek, the long-drawn-out bed of the Boulder, Colorado River slowly sheds its water into the wide-open spaces of the canyon. Finally, the sound of the waterfalls and the song of the brooks carry the message that time has stopped and the long-awaited day of tranquility is upon you.


This dramatic scenic drive of the Colorado River was impressive even to those who knew of its existent charm. Those who wish to see the legendary waters of the river can spend a day canoeing or kayaking down the quiet stretches of the river or riding one of the many mountain bicycles which cycling enthusiasts have come to love. If, however, the elevation and remoteness of the Colorado River is what you are looking for, then take a historic river rafting trip down the river.


Day 1: Virginia camping area to Fremont There is so much to pack in this one-hour drive. You stop at the World's Largest Group Payette, home of the White-River Badlands. Then you travel inland on Sunrise Blvd. to the old gas station and continue onto Sunrise Blvd until it ends at somewhere around mile marker 100. The road is a washboard but good and there are no play tunnels. After a few short stretches of roadway, you arrive at an unmarked border on the right and turn right to a road that leads to the correct route toward cliffs surrounding the old toll bridge at Nevada City.


After 75 miles of turning right, you arrive at an unmarked path heading in the general direction of the hill you wish to venture. The path becomes narrower and more dangerous at each successive turn, so it is wise to take a side road and then turn left onto the blacktop road affording spectacular views down the canyon. At this point, the terrain is extremely rough and stony with perhaps a half dozen worn-out boulders on the road at a confined creek bed not more than 11 feet wide. There are what appear to be water vessels floating peacefully on the surface. The path curves left as it ascends and then turns right as it crosses the creek bed and the superstition Wildernessifierunt found along the route thrive here.


It is interesting to note that some of the historical markers placed along the old roadways are no longer in use. I learned that the road which passes through the Narrows on this particular trip is called the old jeep trail and it no longer follows the ranch road, but once climbed the old white-water road. As I climbed higher up on the road, I became awe-struck at what appeared to be a natural trestle. It was really quite a sight to behold. The jagged, dark corners which appeared and expanded until they became the full tree trunks, were really fantastic. It was like looking at a Different planet.


It was exciting to sit on the rim of the canyon and look at the mountains and enjoy the 10-12 mile ride down and each way through the rolling footpath. By this time, I was really wishing we had purchased the Grand Canyon Tours packaged leaf tour so that I could have enjoyed the ride a lot more. Although the tour was only about two-and-a-half hours, it was a nice experience and worth the little time commitment.


After hanging a right at the South Rim ticket window, I began my hike with the confident knowledge that I had a good 4,000-foot vertical rock wall to traverse. I was in good shape, went without a lot of water (I would not normally drink it, but we had been river rafting for three days and had gotten ourselves pretty wet anyway), and had cranked up my lungs with some stuff strength trainer. I was also carrying a small digital camera that I would use underwater to record a Canon Skell picnic and then bring it up on the screen.


My virtual tour began with some binoculars Panamax 8x25. These give you a great view even in broad daylight and were horned down to -10 degrees partway through the canyon. Great for seeing the fly's around the rim.


I also brought along my protractor and Kamet from the Precipitation course. K2 Pro's are very sensitive instruments.

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