SPRINGDALE, Utah (ABC4 News – Zion National Park officials are warning visitors about swift water conditions throughout the park.
They say snowmelt is causing dangerously high conditions on the Virgin River.
On June 11, three people became stranded on a rock at the Temple of Sinawava and have to be rescued. A search and rescue (SAR) team responded, and a swift water rescue was performed.
A 12-year-old boy had been wading in the river near the edge and was swept away by the force of the current. The boy’s mother went in after him, as did a second woman. His mother was able to help the child onto a boulder and hold onto it for support.
Bystanders were able to rescue the second woman and help the SAR team reach the mother. The SAR team then rescued the child from the rock using a kayak and ropes.
Zion National Park closed the Virgin River including the Narrows earlier this spring, due to rising and fast-flowing waters from snowmelt.
Snowmelt closures usually only last a month or so. However, this year’s increased precipitation has resulted in a flow rate that is still too high.
Rangers caution that the water may look inviting, but at 210 cubic feet per second (cfs), it is powerful enough to sweep a visitor off their feet and into the strong current. Bradybaugh added “access to the river and the Narrows will remain closed until the river level comes down to at least 150 cfs for a full day. We think it will be 1-2 more weeks.”
Visitors are encouraged to check the current conditions for river flow at https://waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/uv?09405500 and https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/conditions.htm for the most up to date park information.