One of our favourite outings in Zion National Park was the leisurely and picturesque Riverside Walk, starting at the Temple of Sinawava, a massive stone amphitheatre that unofficially marks the beginning of the canyon.
The temple and the trail that runs alongside the Virgin River have become one of the park’s most popular destinations. Some of the gorge walls rise 1000 feet.
With lush green foliage, humbling views of towering sandstone, gurgling water and wildlife, the walk is pure postcard material.
Just over a mile in distance one way, the path is paved and mostly level. We set out in the early morning and there were almost no other walkers. Then traffic picked up.
A lot of people were outfitted in wet gear (special closed shoes, chest-high waterproof pants and long walking sticks) so they could wade into the waters of the Zion Narrows that stretch beyond the Riverside Walk. Apparently late spring and summer are the best times to tackle the narrows. That’s when the water is lowest and warmest.
Of course, we didn’t have any of the necessary gear, but after seeing that everyone was dressed almost identically, I realised it was possible to rent the gear. Maybe another time. One of our group had ventured into the narrows on a previous trip and said how breathtaking the views were. I think it’s possible to hike about two more miles into the ever-narrowing canyon.
We took our time, walking to the water’s edge a couple of times and me photographing everything around me. We got to the end in time to see some people heading into the narrows. It was a clear day and almost no chance of any flash floods, so I reckon they had an amazing outing.
There was a special treat on our return walk. I’m always scanning the distance for wildlife and I spotted a deer—as it turned out it was a female mule deer. She was drinking at the river’s edge and had her bum to us. But slowly she turned and made her way across about 50 yards of grassland.
She came right up to the fence along the path beside us and then slipped through the gap. She was aiming for the delectable leaves on a tree right in front of us. Miraculously, no one else came along to disturb the experience. We moved on after about 10 minutes, and just then she made a leap up the hill. Perhaps we were the only ones to see her.
I later learned that people often see mule deers on that walk, but we felt special and rewarded anyway.