Zion’s Virgin River
Some say later visitors accidentally switched the Virgin River’s with the Sevier River (meant to be spelled Rio Severo) that was named simultaneously. The Sevier is a gentle, soft river that meanders into the Great Basin while the Virgin is like a teenager, fast to excite and not too concerned with the destruction that it leaves in its wake.
Whatever its original name, the river is a modern day favorite. The river and the Virgin River Gorge that it carved out, reach from the Dixie National Forest into the upper edges of Zion Canyon. The 16-mile long stretch through the park features two-thousand feet deep cliffs that constrict into a shoulder-squeezing 20-foot wide Narrows, at their tightest point.
The Zion Narrows are one of the most sought-after adventures in the West. The colorful soaring cliffs, icy waters, unexpected pools, hidden waterfalls and startling spring and fall colors are unforgettable for those who venture within. Once it leaves Zion, the river runs by St. George where it joins the Santa Clara River before flowing into the Colorado River at Lake Mead Reservoir. Spring thaws and unexpected rains can make the river hazardous. Flash floods are common and hypothermia a constant concern.
Santa Clara River
One of the Santa Clara River‘s charms is that it is one of the few undammed rivers left. In March of 2009 165.5-miles of the river and its tributaries were designated as the first Wild and Scenic River in Utah. The title prevents development or damming. (Utah hopes to add 85 more rivers to the list soon.)
Those who want wild rivers protected can join the Get Wild with a River campaign to nominate other rivers for consideration. Being a Wild River is already paying off. An immediate discussion started about building a trail system for walking and bicycling along the Virgin River Corridor from St. George to Zion.