100 Days of National Parks: Day 9 – Downstream Subway, Zion National Park

Downstream Subway

Downstream Subway
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The Subway in Zion National Park is one of the most alien, spectacular places I’ve ever been.  Tucked back along the Left Fork of North Creek as it cuts through the Kolob Plateau, this short section of slot canyon creeps up on you gradually.  As you trudge upstream through the creek, up increasingly more epic cascades and waterfalls, along sandstone slick with algae and dead leaves, the canyon walls narrow, until you turn around a bend to the mouth of this amazing place.

I’ve only been up from the downstream trailhead, and it’s one of my goals in life to become proficient enough in repelling that I can tackle the descent from the upstream access point, as I’ve heard the technical section of the canyon is one of the most epic sights you can see in the U.S.

Adding to the specialness of this place is the fact that it is only accessible with a permit from the Visitor Center Backcountry desk, either through lottery or a day in advance.  While they only allow 12 groups to enter the canyon each day, I’ve found it easy enough to get a first-come-first-served permit by camping out in front of the Visitor Center entrance and getting in right as they open the doors.  Sadly, this is likely not an option in summer months, but it’s absolutely worth a shot, as the experience of being in this section of Zion National Park is a highlight of the park and the southwest in general.

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