Virgin, N. Fork, Utah, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-V (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||55 fpm|
|Max Gradient||110 fpm|
|NORTH FORK VIRGIN RIVER NEAR SPRINGDALE, UT|
|usgs-09405500||150 - 600 cfs||III-V||01h05m||26 cfs (too low)|
SEASON: From mid April to the end of May. The river typically peaks around the beginning of May.
FUN FACT: The best way to experience Zion National Park
PERMIT: Entrance fee to the park and a free backcountry permit are required to float this reach through Zion National Park. It's a good idea to double check the park's river-running policy before heading out.
LOGISTICS: A shuttle road parrallels the run and park users are required to use the bus system which provides a convenient shuttle. From the last bus stop it's an easy walk on a paved trail to the put-in.
The North Fork of the Virgin is a fun river that provides the best means of experiencing one of our country's most beautiful national parks. There's some good whitewater on this run along with absolutely stunning geology.
From the put-in at the Temple of Sinawava the river starts out as mostly class II for the first 5 miles, although it can push class III at higher flows. Stay alert for wood hazards. Those who are looking for the easier trip can take out above the Birch Creek Bridge at the Court of the Patriarchs parking area. Those looking for more action can continue through Satan's Staircase which starts just downstream of the Birch Creek Bridge.
The action through Satan's Staircase kicks off with Corral Falls and then you encounter over
a mile of fun boulder garden rapids which push class V at higher water but drop down to
III/IV at the lower limit of flows.
2012: At higher flows it may not be possible to get under the riverwide wood right after Corral Falls. Watch out for other sweepers a mile below there.
The action tapers off a bit at Flannigan Diversion and calms down to class III, but the run continues for another mile and half to the bridge at the visitor center near South and Watchman campgrounds. There is some potential boating below this point but you need to be aware of private property when selecting your access point.
for additional information see:
Virgin River Runners Coalition web site which includes detailed descriptions of the different sections
Nichols, G.C. 2002. River Runners' Guide to Utah. University of Utah Press, includes an excellent and comprehensive description
National Geographic's Trails Illustrated Map 214 of Zion National Park is a good map of the river
Boating allowed when flows exceed 140 cfs