, formed by the North Fork of the Virgin River, is probably the best known deep, watery canyon in Southwest, as it lies at the center of one of the top national parks, Zion
. The canyon can be explored in summer and early fall when water levels are not too high, after obtaining a hiking permit ($10). The vertical Navajo sandstone cliffs reach heights of 2,000 feet above the river, and are about 20 feet apart at the closest approach; they are mostly quite dark in color, enlivened by side canyons, frequent hanging gardens, and occasional, seasonal waterfalls. A hike through all 14 miles of the gorge is quite an undertaking, so most people just explore a mile or so at the lower end - perhaps as far as the first major tributary, Orderville Canyon.
: Along the Riverside Trail, starting at the far end of Zion Canyon Scenic Drive - details