One of the rangers suggested a hike on one of the trails in a quieter more tranquil area of the park. We set out early to beat the heat and after reaching the community of Virgin we drove the steep Kolob Terrace Road to an elevation of 7,000 feet. At that elevation the air sure felt cooler early in the morning! From there we hiked the Wildcat Canyon Trail to the Northgate Peaks Trail, a lovely tranquil hike that took us to a beautiful view of the Kolob Plateau.
We then decided to drive to the north entrance to Zion N.P. to take the scenic drive past spectacular canyons and red rocks to the Kolob Canyons Viewpoint. The views from the top and along the drive were amazing.
The next day we rested and decided to go see the new Mission Impossible movie which we really enjoyed. Sadly this was our last day in Utah after over a month of amazing national parks and breathtaking scenery. Utah far exceeded our expectations and we can’t wait to return in the future!
Everything in Zion takes life from the scarce waters of the Virgin River which over time has helped shape the landscape of the park. As in other Utah national parks, there are signs everywhere warning of the possibility and danger of flash flooding in the narrow canyons. Visitors are warned to keep a close eye on the weather as storms far away can produce flash floods in the park. At the trailhead of the Riverwalk Trail we took yesterday there was a sign indicating what the likelihood of flash flooding was in the park for the day. The signs are similar to Smoky the Bear signs you might have seen indicating fire danger, except these signs warned of flash floods. The sign for yesterday indicated the moderate “Flash Flooding Possible” warning. This was especially important for those hiking into The Narrows where flash flooding is especially life threatening. Every year there are visitors to the Utah parks killed due to falls from cliffs and flash floods.
It is believed but not documented as fact that the Virgin River was named by Spanish Catholic missionaries in honor of the Virgin Mary. Others say it was named for Thomas Virgin, a member of the first American party to see it in 1826. John Fremont, an explorer and mapmaker named it after Thomas Virgin. This seems to be the more historically documented explanation though my research found more references to it being named for the Virgin Mary. The 162 mile river runs through parts of Utah, Arizona and Nevada. The North Fork of the river begins north of Zion at Cascade Falls which comes out of a cave near Navajo Lake, elevation 9,000 feet. The north and east forks of the Virgin River run through Zion National Park and empties into Lake Mead which then empties into the Colorado River. The Colorado River then empties into the Gulf of California/Sea of Cortez. The Virgin River was designated Utah’s first wild and scenic river.