Friday, September 14, 2012

Thursday Adventure: The Subway (Zion National Park)

In the fall, my thoughts always turn to canyoneering. Crisp desert air, golden-leafed cottonwood trees lining the washes, azure sky without a single lurking thunderstorm to trouble the would-be canyoneer...ahhh.  This fall I'm particularly caught up in dreams of Utah's red-rock desert, as I gear up to start work on the third book of the Shattered Sigil series.  As you might guess from my working title (The Labyrinth of Flame), I'm planning a little canyon fun for Dev and Kiran this time around.

I've shared some canyoneering pics here before, but mostly from dry desert slots.  Zion National Park features a different style of canyoneering than much of the rest of Utah.  Zion's canyons feature full-flowing streams, and require a lot more swimming and wading in addition to scrambling and rappelling.  Some experienced canyoneers scoff at Zion's popular routes as being "kiddie rap-n-swim canyoneering," since most of the major canyons have bolts placed in the rock at all the rappel points, and require little in the way of anchor-setting skills.  (In the rest of Utah, canyoneers hold to a "no bolt" ethic, to maintain the wilderness feel of the canyons.)  But Zion's canyons are so beautiful, I don't see how anyone can possibly sneer at them.  To prove it, here are some pics from a trip I did through one of Zion's most popular canyoneering routes: the Subway (a.k.a the Left Fork of North Creek).

Swirling slickrock on the hike to the canyon

Walking down the slickrock

Fall colors in the canyon

Preparing to negotiate a drop. (I'm the one in front, my husband Robert behind, followed by two other friends.)

Ooo, the water is cold! (You need at least a thick wetsuit to prevent hypothermia.  Specially-made canyoneering drysuits are preferable; you can rent them in the town outside Zion's gates for a reasonable daily fee.)

Robert negotiating a narrow section

Robert and I, enjoying the canyon

Start of the famous "Subway" section

Playing around in a pool. The fun part about drysuits is that they're really poofy and make floating a snap.

Walking through the Subway

Another Subway view

Sliding down waterfalls in the lower canyon
Towering canyon walls


  1. You look like Hercules in your poofy suit. :-)

    And such an awesome place. In fact, I just saw the Subway on Art Wolfe's photography show, "Travels to the Edge," and you can see part of his Southwest episode here, with the Subway at the six minute mark.

    1. Oooh, thanks for the link! Man, I really need to explore more of the Vermilion Cliffs area. We've done a backpack trip through Buckskin/Paria Canyon (which was absolutely stunning), but I know (and the video certainly shows!) there are tons more cool places to see in the vicinity. Utah is just so incredible.