Sunday, June 9, 2013
A Stroll Through the Gateway to the Narrows of the Virgin River
Zion National Park is the ultimate exposure of the dramatic Navajo Sandstone, which formed in early Jurassic time as a widespread "sea" of sand dunes extending from Wyoming to Arizona and Nevada. The formation is more than 2,000 feet thick at Zion, where it forms vertical red and white cliffs.
The cliffs have been exposed by the rapid incision of the region by the forks of the Virgin River. Where the river has reached the underlying Kayenta Formation, mass wasting and erosion has caused rapid cliff retreat, forming a wider valley with a flat floor that allows for the development of tourist facilities (the campgrounds and visitor centers and such). Things change at the upper end of the valley where the river is flowing exclusively in the Navajo Sandstone. The canyon is 2,000 feet deep, but in places is only a few feet wide. The Narrows of the Virgin River is a stunningly beautiful place.
At road's end at the Temple of Sinewava, an easy 1 mile paved trail provides access to the narrows. That's where I was the other day.
More on Zion in the next post!