A more friendly Slot

Slot Canyon, eastern end of Zion NP

Slot Canyon, eastern end of Zion NP

No need for any special equipment in this slot.  You might have to scramble over a few boulders now and then or wade through a little water, but there’s no rappelling.  Even I can do it, and I’m getting old……..

Actually, this particular slot canyon is part of the same system as Pine Creek Canyon; a fairly long wash (or draw) runs from the eastern edge of Zion to the Zion Tunnel area, where it drops down into the main canyon of Zion and into the Virgin River.  Slots like this are created as the water (and rocks and trees and other debris) cut through Navajo sandstone cliffs.  It’s not all like this, of course.  The draw sometimes widens into a wide, flat, boulder strewn area where the sandstone cliffs have been significantly eroded or were never there in the first place.

Water seeping through red sandstone, Zion NP

Water seeping through red sandstone, Zion NP

In some places you can see water seeping into the slot from the cliffs themselves.  The sandstone is porous, so rain that falls on the tops of the cliffs will eventually find its way to the bottom.  It then leeches onto the ground, forming small (or even large) pools of water that help nourish plant and animal life.

Slot canyon walls, Zion NP

Slot canyon walls, Zion NP

And then there’s the color.  In some places the walls exhibit various shades of red, yellow, brown, and blue.  Yes, blue.  At least that’s how it looks in places.  I suspect it’s a form of “desert varnish”, but I’m not sure.  Sometimes you just have to stand there and stare at it.  And if you stand still enough, and it gets really, really quiet, I swear you can hear water moving through the rock.

Rock deposits in the slot, Zion NP

Rock deposits in the slot, Zion NP

One of the most fascinating things (to me, anyway) as I wander through slots like this is the ubiquitous presence of rock piles.  If you happen upon a point where the draw makes a turn you’ll find scenes that look like this.  The side of the slot that the water hits will be extremely smooth, like it’s been polished.  There will also be a fair amount of fine sand, with rocks on top of it.  And some of the rocks are fairly large.  The big one in the foreground of this image is roughly the size of a football.  So it’s heavy.  These rocks didn’t fall from the top of the cliff, either.  Water brought them to this point, and then dropped them when it slowed down making the turn.

While I wouldn’t want to be in this canyon during a flash flood, I have to say I wouldn’t mind witnessing such an event.  That has to be something to see.

My apologies to anyone who’s seen any of my previous posts about slot canyons.  I have a feeling I’m repeating myself here.  But guess what?  Next time I’m at Zion I’ll be down here again.  It always looks different, especially after there’s been heavy rain.    




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