Virgin, N. Fork - 02. Sinawava to South Campground (Zion NP)

Virgin, N. Fork, Utah, US


02. Sinawava to South Campground (Zion NP)

Usual Difficulty III-V (for normal flows)
Length 8.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 55 fpm
Max Gradient 110 fpm

Bottom Corral Falls

Bottom Corral Falls
Photo of Adrian Clarke taken 5/05 @ ~2500

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-09405500 150 - 600 cfs III-V 00h57m 44.1 cfs (too low)

River Description

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

Zion National Park


Permit Information

Boating allowed when flows exceed 140 cfs

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-07-09 22:23:19


Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
April 25 2011 (2790 days ago)
rhoadesphillip (149884)
Lots of sweepers in first five miles could cause problems for inexperienced boaters. Floods this
winter uprooted and bent many trees. Lower water will force boaters into cutbanks with trees
extending into main channel. Higher water, above 1200-ish cfs, could float new debris and create
new hazards.
April 15 2011 (2800 days ago)
rgauss (151284)
River-wide strainer at Birch Creek Bridge/Court of the Patriarchs. Also, the word is that some new
rocks washed into the run and/or existing rocks moved during the December flood.
May 4 2009 (3511 days ago)
Jake ZywickeDetails
Fun run at 300 cfs. A little more water would make things more fun.
April 5 2009 (3540 days ago)
x (1)
hello all, I ran this run on Sun, may 11th. it was a blast! however, this is my review: The river
is very easy from the temple of Sinwava for 5 miles then at the 3rd walking bridge get out if your
a rookie.... I should have but I'm really good at making bad decisions. Haha. I took my Seahawk
sport 400 raft the whole way down, and it was exciting to say the least. So From the 3rd walking
bridge (the court of the patriarcs) you will go over a super fun diversion dam its a 20 ft slide to
a 3 ft. drop from that point on its a different river. After the dam are a ton of boulders to
manuver around and non stop action for quite a while (lots of 3ft drops and shutes) I guess this is
Satans Staircase. Be sure to portage after the first left after the first dam, there is a huge tree
blocking the only path. After that it was all clear as my girlfriend and I thrashed this pretty
durable 10ft raft, the cfs was 230 and thats the biggest craft you'll get down this run at this
level. Watch out for Landslide Rapid! This is man made and designed to slow the river, it is a 5 ft
drop and a nasty hole. I fell out of my raft and got recycled for a min. I was pretty shaken up and
I'll steer clear of this in the future. The river will make a bend to the right And there is a 30ft
man made wall on the left, get out here on the left to scout go up on the road to check it out,
you'll here it. If you go over it get some damn momemtem!! After that is a bunch of fun rapids
until you reach another diversion dam about 1/2 mile after landslide rapid. Get through that and is
pretty much smooth sailing down to camp. Super fun day and best scenery ever!! Thanks for reading
about my weekend warrior adventure. Joe Dematzzzzzzzzz

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