Chasing Waterfalls in Zion Sunday

1/16/2023  |  Zion National Park, Utah

The sky falls occasionally in all the right ways. The atmospheric rivers that have been pummeling California have mostly moved across southern Utah and have dropped a pleasant amounts of rain and snow. I first dabbled with these storms when they first began to arrive a few weeks ago right around the beginning of the year (see echo canyon falls below).

Echo Canyon Falls

But since that trip the snow has come and gone a few times and now the frosty wonderland has been replaced with the regular doldrum of the great tree skeletons of winter. Luckily there are a few places to still find nice views of the landscape around here in Zion, and with the right conditions all sorts of photos can be had.

This past Sunday I decided to head to Zion after church for some afternoon waterfall chasing and to show the kids something cool. Waterfalls in Zion are kind of a rare treat. My kids are relatively young and over the past few winters we have experience some extreme drought so very few good rain events have lead to safe waterfalls to experience. Because of this, my kids have never really actually experience the waterfalls of the park.

So, as the motto goes- when it gently rains, take the kids to Zion.

We began our trip with excitement as a rainbow popped up along the drive for a minute. Nothing like mother nature providing a bit of pre-excitement to a day photographing and seeing waterfalls. Luckily the rest of the drive was uneventful so when we arrived at Zion excitement building around seeing something.

The first waterfalls were mostly trickles, these include the small falls that come off Sentinel Peak and the waterfall that cascades out from between the Two Brothers Peaks. The large cascades by Court of the Patriarchs that come out of Behunin Canyon were running, but only

A wispy waterfall cascades out of Hidden Canyon next to the great white throne
Hidden Canyon Waterfall

lightly, just enough to be seen from a distance. Then came the show stoppers.

Emerald Pools is the largest and most reliable waterfall within the park. It runs most rain events and today was no exception. But we passed these at first because I knew we would catch that on our way out. We then progressed up the canyon and Echo canyon was running (Seen Above) along with the other little side canyon that drains into the same spot. The large Hidden Canyon waterfall was also going, though not as prolific as I have seen in times past.

The largest and one of the most consistent waterfalls within Zion was our last stop. This is waterfall found at the Temple of Sinewava which is the final bus stop in Zion. This cascade comes out from a crack on the north side of the canyon near the top of the cliff face. Usually you can see the the residue of the waterfall streaking the cliff to remind you that interesting things happen here. When its been a while since this waterfall flooded it is usually dirty, but since it has been flowing constantly for a few weeks now, its colors were clean and cool.

Temple of Sinewava Falls

After playing around for a bit here with the kids, we headed back to Emerald Pools because I had promised the kids an opportunity to walk underneath a waterfall. The drive was quick and even revealed a waterfall I had not seen before by Red Arch Mountain. Soon we arrived at the trail head, piled out and wandered off towards the Emerald Pools.

The trail was wet muddy, wet, and covered with fallen leaves. Everything a kid needs in order to stay healthy.

It wasn't long before the sound of cascading waterfalls filled out ears and we were rewarded by these beauties (see image below). These three waterfalls come from two sources. The two left waterfalls come off the main cascade, while the third is partially fed by another cascade that comes in from the right (That's what it looks like anyways.) So we took the kids under the waterfalls so they can officially say they got to walk under a waterfall.

I knew I was running out of light so I passed the kids off to the wife and ran up the stairs on the far side and got to the overlook that provides some nice views of the waterfalls. I took a few images but I think the crowning image of the day was this beauty below of the three waterfalls coming off the cliffs. I have only seen this a few times over the years going to Zion, and it was a treat to see it all on this trip.

A tripple waterfall cascades off of a cliff at Zion National Park
Emerald Pools

The temple of sinawava in Zion National Park. The cottonwood trees are covered in snow and the waterfall is going in the background.
Temple of Sinawava in Snow

Having a frosty Temple of Sinawava was a photo I had been shooting for for years, but the conditions never aligned where I would have a waterfall and the snow. I finally got it in the winter of 2022-2023. The southwest this winter has turned into a record snow year. The waterfalls of Zion have never run this good in what feels like ages. I have been grateful to be able to photograph it just a bit.