Photos and Multimedia
- 5 minutes, 16 seconds
Each year, Slaven's Roadhouse in Yukon-Charley Rivers National Park serves as an official dog drop for the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, a 1,000 mile journey between Whitehorse, Yukon Territory and Fairbanks, Alaska. Well known to be one of the toughest sled dog races in the world, the Yukon Quest trail crosses some of North America's most beautiful yet unforgiving winter terrain. At Slaven's Roadhouse, mushers have the chance to take a break from their arduous journey to enjoy hot food, warm hospitality, and a quick, much needed rest. This is made possible by a dedicated team of NPS employees and Yukon Quest staff. This video shows what it's like to work at Slaven's during the Yukon Quest.
- 24 seconds
A high altitude aerial view looking straight down to the Colorado River and surrounding Tonto Platform. Slow 360 degree pivot. (24 fps, 1080p)
A River Forever "Wild and Scenic"
Discover what makes the Virgin River Wild and Scenic in this story written and narrated by Park Ranger Robin Hampton.
- 6 minutes, 12 seconds
A River Forever “Wild and Scenic”
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- Date created:
Early morning winds move downstream with the river; its soothing sounds are swept along, too. Today is March 30, 2009. Creatures living in Zion National Park don’t mark the date, but continue to pursue their ancient callings of reproduction and foraging for food.
One of daylight’s first birds—the Say’s Phoebe—gracefully swoops and cries. It’s too early in the season to see the large crop of young lizards—Plateau and Desert Spiny—scoot on top of the sand only to stop and give us the eye. If we talk to them, they listen—at least their expressions and cocked heads make them appear to be interested in a reptilian conversation.
Lustrous leaves sprout from mature cottonwoods, and with the gaining onset of tent caterpillars, the tree’s annual cycle of defoliation and sap loss begins. Hundreds of prepubescent moths start out as black dots inside wide swathes of netted cocoons clipped in at their tips to keep them webbed inside. Before long, these black dots become bluegray flecked crawlers that drop to the ground, stunned and unsure. Zion’s spring crescendo, loud with song and slither and wandering wind, pays tribute to a talented maestro—the Virgin River.
For hundreds of thousands of years this river, with its short reach (154 miles long) and steep tumble (its elevation loss is about 8,000 feet from beginning to end), has given, unhindered, its power, cutting capacity, and gifts of niches and life zones. Historically many other rivers in the United States have not fared so well, particularly those in the East. The Cuyahoga River, which flows through Cleveland, Ohio, is the most infamous. A putrid Cuyahoga was a throwback to a time when people held an unenlightened belief that water could dilute any substance poured and thrown into it. Industrial garbage, raw sewage, and animal carcasses gutted Eastern waterways, so in June of 1969, the chemically saturated Cuyahoga caught fire for the tenth time in one hundred years. It was big news because, now, federal government agencies and the general public were more environmentally savvy. It was not acceptable to change water into poison. A literal flare ignited a flame of disgust among local and national communities. Out of the outrage, the Clean Water Act was born.
What the Virgin River has that the Eastern rivers don’t are out-of-the-way slot canyons. An inhospitable but stunning terrain means some places are so isolated that getting to them requires skills equal to that of a bighorn sheep. Canyoneering, rock climbing, and backcountry travel will bring the adventurer to the edge of gaping chasms into which clamor streams, waterfalls, and the beating heart of it all—the Virgin River.
On March 30, 2009, Zion National Park’s modest runlets and the Virgin River—165 miles in all were designated wild, scenic, and recreational. A decision of this magnitude reflects the remote, undeveloped, and partially accessible attributes of these waterways.
It also carries forward an attitude of concern for the future welfare of this country’s watersheds. Congress and President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1968. That year 27 rivers were designated as wild and scenic. By 2008, more than 11,000 miles of 166 rivers in 38 states were so honored. This represents slightly more than one quarter of one percent of America’s waterways. Today’s new law expands the system by more than 50%; 252 rivers in the U.S. are now listed.
The Virgin River’s residents, however, won’t understand this piece of significant news. Beavers will continue to dwell in its banks. The spinedace, a native minnow, will flutter in its silty home. From dawn to gracious dawn, the park’s waters will rise and fall, a cadence of sweet eternal breath. We may all breathe easier now. Our treasured river, our flowing veins of life, are forever protected.
Last updated: January 19, 2018