About The Virgin River
Rio Virgin Ranch features over ¾’s of a mile of the Virgin River which is a tributary of the Colorado River. The river originates in Southwestern Utah’s Dixie National Forest, north of Zion National Park, and is formed by the confluence of the East Fork Virgin and the North Fork Virgin River which both flow through or near Zion National Park. The Virgin flows in a southwesterly direction, passing south of the old historic townsite of St. George where the Santa Clara River joins the Virgin at a place the Paiutes called Tonaquint. During the centennial celebration of Zion National Park in 2009, the Virgin was designated Utah’s first “wild and scenic” river.
The Old Spanish Trail followed the Virgin River for part of its length from St. George to the point it ascended the Mormon Plateau to cross to the Muddy River in present-day Nevada. Despite flowing through the arid Southwestern US, the Virgin River is home to an incredible and diverse array of plants and animals. The exceptional landscapes and habitats of this region harbor unique plant and animal communities. The Virgin River supports hundreds of wildlife species including Virgin River chub, Virgin spinedace, desert sucker, and Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. Many of these species are endangered or are considered sensitive species within the State of Utah. The Virgin River Program was established to preserve this unique river ecosystem. In recent years, The Nature Conservancy has purchased property adjacent to, and downstream from, the Rio Virgin Ranch.
About Zion National Park
Rio Virgin is located just 12 minutes from the entrance to the iconic Zion National Park. The 229-square-mile park feature’s Zion Canyon, a 15 miles long canyon adorned with reddish and tan-colored canyon walls. The park has a unique geography and a variety of life zones that allow for unusual plant and animal diversity. Visitors to Zion will enjoy the visual beauty of the park’s mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rivers, slot canyons, and natural arches.
Zion is located on the Markagunt and Kolob plateaus, at the intersection of three North American geographic provinces: the Colorado Plateau, the Great Basin, and the Mojave Desert. The northern part of the park is known as the Kolob Canyons section.
The 8,726-foot summit of Horse Ranch Mountain is the highest point in the park; the lowest point is the 3,666-foot elevation of Coal Pits Wash, creating a relief of about 5,100 feet.
The road into Zion Canyon is 6 miles long, ending at the Temple of Sinawava, which is named for the coyote god of the Paiute Indians. The canyon becomes more narrow near the Temple and a hiking trail continues to the mouth of The Narrows, a gorge only 20 feet wide and up to 2,000 feet tall.
The Kolob Terrace area, northwest of Zion Canyon, features a slot canyon called The Subway, and a panoramic view of the entire area from Lava Point. The Kolob Canyons section, further to the northwest near Cedar City, features Tucupit Point and one of the world’s longest natural arches, Kolob Arch.