Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon.
The original name of the park appears to have been Mukuntuweap, which translates into something along the lines of "straight canyon" in the Paiute language. In the main part of the canyon where the roads and developments are found, the description is true. At the north end, things change. The walls of Zion Canyon are steep cliffs of Navajo Sandstone, the Jurassic record of a vast sand sea that once existed across several southwestern states. Where the Virgin River has cut into the underlying softer layers the canyon walls are undercut and the canyon widens rapidly (in the sense of geologic time, but also human time; rockfalls happen constantly). At the upstream end of the valley the Virgin River cuts exclusively through the sandstone, forming a very narrow winding slickrock canyon called, quite logically, the Narrows of the Virgin River.
On the hottest days, the sun barely shines into the narrows, and it is the coolest place to hide from the heat. We retreated into the shadows and waited for the sun to set. Others were hanging out in the coolness including a cute doe and fawn.
intense flooding from just over a year ago.
The only problem is the that the shuttles stop operating at nightfall. Lingering in the upper canyon as we were doing introduced the potential problem of missing the last bus of the day. We started walking a little faster in the rapidly disappearing light.
There were a few hazards, though. One year we were sitting behind the waterfalls, and a two or three foot wide slab of rock broke loose and fell just a few feet from some of my students. Another time I was walking in near total darkness, enjoying my other senses (it was a concrete pathway so it was hard to get off the trail). I was walking through the high brush and I heard rustling, not at my feet, but right in front of my face. OK, that was a bit much. I turned on my flashlight and found that I had almost walked face-first into a porcupine munching away at the shrubs...
the first one...