What the River Knows: Virgin River, Utah

What the River Sees. (Photo by Basia Irland and Derek Irland.)

In this series, “What the River Knows,” by Basia Irland, the artist and water activist writes from the perspective of each river, using the first person. Installments are published in Water Currents every other week on Mondays. The first post is about the Ping River in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Other posts include the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok; Kamo-gawa River, Kyoto; Siem Reap River, Cambodia; Yaqui River, Mexico, where the eight Yaqui tribal villages do not have water due to agricultural corporations; the superfund site on the Eagle River in Colorado, polluted with heavy metal runoff from a mine; and the Virgin River as it flows through Zion National Park.

Please feel free to add your comments at the end of each post.

The North Fork of the Virgin River at Zion National Park, Utah–I flow out of a cave at 9,000 feet elevation near Navajo Lake at Cascade Falls, Utah, descend toward Lake Mead at 1,000 feet, and empty into the Colorado River. The length of the Virgin River is 180 miles, however I am only the 33-mile stretch of the North Fork.

I could tell you tales of other parts of my course, but the favorite section of my journey is the 8½ miles through the steep Navajo sandstone canyon walls located in the Colorado Plateau Mojave Desert ecosystem of southern Utah at what is now called Zion (place of sanctuary and safety) Canyon, formerly known by its Paiute Indian name, Mukuntuweap or Mu-Loon’-Tu-Weap.

What is experienced as I travel the stretch from where the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive road ends at the Temple of Sinawava (a Paiute word for the Coyote God), until the South entrance at Springdale, is an amazing adventure! I have the opportunity to look up and view 3,000-foot high red rock walls, many of them with vertical —> Read More