The fall off-season wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the desert. I recently joined a group of friends on a trip to Zion National Park, a favorite spot in southwest Utah for some slot canyon adventures.
If there’s one rule regarding slot canyons, it’s that they should always be avoided when the weather isn’t good. Flash floods can kill, and some slot canyons can collect rainwater from upstream basins many miles away.
The day we drove to Zion was a wet one. As we pulled into Zion, storm clouds were building, and with no plans to be in the slots that day, we walked out to the Zion Overlook and it began to rain. The water began to slowly runoff the nearby sandstone and soundly there was water cascading off the cliffs all around us. It was quite the sight.
Interesting to me was that I was able to look down from above into a popular slot canyons called Pine Creek, and despite this weather and all the water pouring off the cliffs, the creek below wasn’t rising. I assumed it just wasn’t enough water. I took that as a good example on flash floods, maybe they aren’t as common as I thought, maybe they require big storms with a lot of rain.
After about ten minutes of rain the storm cell passed. The sun emerged and the cascades slowly stopped flowing. I shot a few more photos and then began the walk back to the car when suddenly I could hear the sound of water. I once again looked down into the slot canon below and it was filling with water. Twenty minutes after the rain stopped, the canyons were flooding I could see pour overs that were dry just moments earlier, changed into gushing waterfalls.
That was the first time I was witness to a flash flood, thankfully from above and not from within the slot. It was an interesting lesson.
So we decided to go for a few hikes the next day while we waited for the weather to improve.
Two days after arriving the inclement weather moved on, and we got on with our plans to check out some the slots. The first one we went to was Keyhole Canyon.
Here’s a short video from Keyhole Canyon:
Next up was Pine Creek.