A few weeks back, someone asked me what my favorite place in Zion National Park was, and I froze, not sure how I should answer. How could I pick just one place in my favorite National Park, one example of the boundless examples of natural beauty around every corner, in every tucked-away canyon, up every seemingly unremarkable streambed. When I finally answered, I offered up the Right Fork of North Creek, which seemed to catch them off guard.
While I’m sure mostof the answers people give to that question involve the Narrows or Angel’s Landing or the Emerald Pools, I went for a far less well known section of the park, and did so precisely because it was so unknown, not because I wanted to prove something by being intentionally obscure, but because a part of me felt like I had discovered it on my own, simply by picking out a spot on the map and deciding to wander one day.
Paralleling the far more popular, and well known Left Fork, where the famous Subway is located, the Right Fork of North Creek isn’t so much a trail, but rather a long slog through the creek and along its banks up to a series of progressively more impressive waterfalls. The highlight of the trail, for me, is the terraced Double Falls, the lower section of which I captured in the photo above. This waterfall marks the end of the non-technical section of the Right Fork, as a significant scramble is required to access the appropriately named Barrier Falls further upstream, but it’s a beautiful, isolated, and serene spot that I look forward to going back to, perhaps in the Spring or Summer, when the plants and wildlife along the creek’s edge are in their full splendor.
When I decided to seek out this waterfall, I knew little other than the fact it existed. I parked at the empty parking lot along the Kolob Terrace, descended a poorly marked trail down the pumice-stone embankment, and waded up the near-freezing late-November waters for around 6 or 7 miles before I finally reached the falls. Along the way I passed through a gorgeous valley, the red rocks of the cliffs alongside funneling me further upstream. I waded up a narrow slot, featuring a deep pool called the Black Hole, and almost died falling off a ledge when I slipped on a wet patch of slick rock. The whole day I spent on the trail I saw one other person, and felt the entire time like I was on my own, exploring a relatively untread area in one of the country’s most popular National Parks. It was a fantastic experience, and a memory I’ll always treasure.
Double Falls is profoundly and objectively beautiful, but what makes it one of my favorite places in Zion is not the waterfall itself, but rather the memory of the journey I took to find it. Even the most mundane places can be made interesting if the conditions in which you find them are special, and Double Falls represents this idea better than any I can think of.