Southern Utah’s Narrow Canyons

March 23rd, 2011

Outdoor adventures

Southern Utah has many attractions. The narrow canyons that lace the area are one of the most popular. The movement of water over a long period of time formed these slot canyons, often called “narrows”. The water wears down the sandstone, and this creates a deep, narrow canyon. Today most of the narrows in Southern Utah have no running water, this makes them fun and safe to explore.

The most famous network of narrows is found in Zion National Park. Zion has the largest number of visitors of any park in Utah, and many people come specifically to explore these slot canyons. What is not commonly known, however, is that there are many other narrow canyons across all of Southern Utah. For instance, the majority of canyons in Capitol Reef’s Waterpocket Fold contain narrows. So the question is asked, which narrows are the best to see? That depends on what you want to experience.

In general, the narrows in Capitol Reef National Park and the surrounding area are larger and more open. This means less of a squeeze. More room means you can pack more gear with you. This is ideal for professional and amateur photographers. Because of the geology of this region, the narrows are not as deep or dramatic, but they are no less fun.  Another bonus is the fact that the area is less well known which means the hiker can experience more opportunities for solitude.

There is a reason that the narrows of Zion National Park are famous. They are stunning! They are also more demanding. The narrows in Zion can be extremely tight in some areas. Some contain water pockets year-round. This might mean you will have to swim to access certain parts of the canyons. The narrows can get a little crowded at some seasons, so use caution.

To really know which network of narrows is best, you have to compare them yourself. If you’ve got the time, try to experience as many slot canyons as you can. You won’t regret it.

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