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Old 11-16-2010   #1
GearDog's Avatar
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 397
Virgin River/Zion Narrows Beta Request

I am looking for some first-hand solid beta for the the Zion Narrows on the Virgin River in Utah. All of my present information has come from "Whitewater of the Southern Rockies" guide book.

I am looking to run this next Spring as an overnighter with 4-6 hardshell kayakers. I am also wanting to do the full 15 miles as described in "Whitewater of the Southern Rockies". I am looking for some information from other kayakers that have recently ran this, hopefully as recent as this year, Spring 2010. Here are a few questions I have and any additional information would be greatly appreciate.

Best on-line gauge to monitor flow?
Is April the best chance for Medium type flows?
Best camping near put-in or take-out?
Best spot to camp on river for 4-6 boaters?
The Class IV waterfall portage, book says simple, details?
Running the Class IV waterfall, details?
Any additional hazards?
Best recommended side hikes?

I appreciate those of you that have ran this recently and are willing to post solid information. My wife is considering running this with me and the more comfortable I am with the information the more comfortable she will be. If a phone call is a better way for you to communicate, please do not hesitate to call.

Thank again, Lenny.

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Old 11-16-2010   #2
tallboy's Avatar
Telluride, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 175
Expect III+ whitewater in a class V can become epic quickly and rescue is not a guarantee. Your group should be comfortable class IV paddlers and you shoudn't have any issues with the rapids.

Timing is a challenge with the narrows. The north fork runs early, so expect to scrape and drag your boats for at least 5 hours. Also plan on arriving early the day before you plan to put in, so you can go to the ranger station and get a permit. You won't be starting off on the right foot if you try and get the permit the morning of launch, as it takes about an hour and a bit to get from the headquarters all the way to the ranch. Camping in the park is crowded that time of year as well, so plan a reservation in advance too.

We hit peak flow day in 2009 (around April 23) and it was about 18 cfs on the north fork. We put in at 8am. Once we finally made it to deep creek confluence (I think it was 3pm) the flow went to 450 ish? The rangers didn't allow camping in the narrows (due to high water...uh, we are in boats?) which made for a really long day. 18 cfs would have sucked even more with a loaded boat, but I guess it would be better for taking your time and enjoying it in there longer.

The waterfall portage is a piece of cake, you'll almost be scraping to the lip so getting out in time isn't a problem. Running it is straight forward as well...plugged it and didn't hit anything.

As for the real rapids below the confluence, just heads up read and run III+, with one portage around a log jam as the book says, also easy to see ahead of time. The best rapid is at the end of the narrows and gets really good on down the satan's staircase stretch.

Good luck, make sure your group is solid as there have been too many issues there these past 2 springs and we want to keep it open to paddling...PLEASE GO TO THE NPS SURVEY ON ZION/VIRGIN RIVER AND FILL IT OUT!

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Old 11-16-2010   #3
GearDog's Avatar
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 397

This is exactly the kind of information I was looking for, thank you.

So can you tell me where you would recommend to camp the day before? I would plan to arrive during mid-day, of the day prior to put-in, and complete permit stuff and hang-out. Where would you recommend we camp?

What Ranger Station did you get your Permit from?
What was the cost of your Permit?

If camping in the Narrows is allowed, where would you recommend we camp for a party of 4-6?

Can you share any details as to why the other parties you mentioned had "issues"? Poor planning? Inadequate skills? Unexpected water increases?

As you can tell I'm in the early stages of Trip Planning, so these details are greatly appreciated.

Thanks again Conor, Lenny.
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Old 11-16-2010   #4
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 772
Give this thread a read and you will find out what the "issues" were. Mostly Evan and Kyle are sandbaggers.

Problems on N.F. Virgin River Narrows

The biggest issues you should encounter have to do with access which is why the NPS survey is important.

Read through some of the old threads about the narrows and some of your questions will be answered.
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Old 11-16-2010   #5
Colorado Springs Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 254
There's free camping before you get to Springdale along the river. Can't remember for sure but I think it's about 5 miles before town at mile marker 24. Just keep your eyes open and you'll see it. It can get crowded so no guarantee you'll find a spot but I've camped there numerous times.
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Old 11-17-2010   #6
wasatchbill's Avatar
Riverdale, Utah
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 228
The AW run description is good:
American Whitewater - NWRI - Virgin, N. Fork 1) Chamberlain Ranch to Temple of Sinawava (Zion Narrows)
The tabs for Flow Info, Rapids, Comments, etc have good info.
Dragging your boat in for 6 to 8 miles does not sound like a great plan to me, considering all the broken boats in the recent epics. I'd plan on being able to carry your boat that far, wear good hiking shoes, and bring a patch kit of some kind. Plan for an unexpected bivy; and have a lighter in your PFD. Consider that you might have to help rescue someone in your group, or another group.

Cemartins thread has some good recommendations, if you read far enough.
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Old 11-17-2010   #7
no tengo
mania's Avatar
Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,768
don't separate from your boat and don't require rescue I think are the main points. consider a team of 4 rather than 6 so you can keep it tight.
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Old 11-17-2010   #8
GearDog's Avatar
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 397
Thanks to All for Posting

I want to thank everyone for posting, I greatly appreciate different perspectives. I'm the kind of guy that mentally completes the trip numerous times before I ever even leave, if you know what I'm saying. So these post, and the previous thread from cemartin have been ideal.

Keep the newest and updated information on this spectacular run flowing.

Thanks again, Lenny.

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narrows, river, virgin, zion, kayaking

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