Zion Canyon Road
HW-9 up Zion Canyon to Temple of Sinawava


0.0  Junction of Road into Zion Canyon National Park Area with Utah State Highway 15. Turn North into Park Area Toward Lodge, The check dam area on the Virgin River above the junction and bridge is one of the local swimming areas. The park road leads northward through debris of the Moenave and overlying formation.

0.8  View up the canyon shows the various formations exposed in the park. They are, from the top down: horizontally-bedded Carmel Formation capping the rim; white cliffs of the upper part of the Navajo Formation. Kayenta Formation forms the slope zone below the Navajo cliffs and overlies the prominent ledge-forming Springdale Member of the Moenave Formation. The lower slope zone is on the Dinosaur Canyon Member of the Moenave Formation. Springdale Sandstone helps to produce rapids a short distance upstream.

1.3  Landslide area makes the narrow V-shaped inner gorge and the debris-littered slopes above. Kayenta beds apparently have slumped to restrict the Virgin River (fig. 8.16). Kayenta Sandstone blocks are strewn over the more shaly active lower part of the formation. The slump or landslide area appears to have formed a dam across the Virgin River in the past and is probably responsible for development of the broad flat bottom of the gorge in the area upstream near the lodge.

Figure 8.16. Slumped Kayenta Formation in the narrows of the Virgin River at Mile 1.3. The landslide mass has produced the rapids


2.4  Court of the Patriarchs parking area on the east. These almost half-dome appearing erosional remnants of Navajo Sandstone form the western wall of the canyon (fig. 8.17).

3.4  Junction of side road east to the lodge area. Parking area on the west side of the road provides access to trails across the bridge over the Virgin River.

4.2  Campground and picnic area. The canyon bottom is wooded with large Fremont poplar as well as a variety of smaller trees and shrubs. Road cuts on the east side of the canyon just beyond the campground are shaly beds and sandstone in upper Kayenta Formation.

Figure 8.17. View westward of the Court of the Patriarchs as seen from the parking area at Mile 2.4. Massive Navajo Sandstone forms the vertical wall and is capped by thin fossiliferous lower limestones of the Carmel Formation.


5.5  Side road to Weeping Rocks parking area 0.1 mile east of the main park road. Weeping Rocks is a spring area where water that has percolated down through the porous Navajo Sandstone seeps out on top of shales in the Kayenta Formation. Hanging gardens are growing at the contact and have helped develop a protected overhang at the cliff base.

Figure 8.18. The Great White Throne as seen southward from the parking area at Mile 5.8. The Great White Throne is composed of Navajo Sandstone capped by basal beds of Carmel Formation. Lower most slopes in the foreground are on upper units of the Kayenta Formation.


5.8  Parking Area on the South at Great White Throne Turnout. The Great White Throne is the sheer-walled monolith to the southeast (fig. 8.18), with light gray Navajo Sandstone capping the lower reddish part of the formation. Slopes in the immediate vicinity of the parking area and at the base of the Great White Throne are in Kayenta Formation.

7.3  Temple of Sinawava - Parking Area at the End of the Road at the Virgin River Narrows. A trail leads on up the Virgin River Canyon for slightly over I mile to where the river occupies nearly the entire width of the gorge. The Narrows of the Virgin River are in Navajo Sandstone (fig. 8.19), above where the Kayenta Formation goes below river level. Return down canyon toward the junction with Utah State Highway 15.

Figure 8.19. View northward from the parking area at Mile 5.8 toward The Narrows of the Virgin River, the vertical walled gorge in the lower center of the photograph. Navajo Sandstone forms the canyon walls.






from Field Guide: Northern Colorado Plateau by J. Keith Rigby - Purchase Information