Archangel Cascades

Zion National Park, Utah, USA

About Archangel Cascades


Hiking Distance: 8 miles round trip; creek scramble
Suggested Time: 6-8 hours

Date first visited: 2003-04-26
Date last visited: 2003-04-26

Waterfall Latitude: 37.3086
Waterfall Longitude: -113.05601

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The Archangel Cascades are a series of cascades sheeting their way down the hard sandstone bedrock as the Left Fork North Creek continued its way further downstream.

Like other similar pages in the Utah region, the waterfalls here were really my excuse at sharing the more epic adventure most people would come here for.

Subway_019_04262003 - The Archangel Cascades on the way to the Subway
The Archangel Cascades on the way to the Subway

In this particular instance, it was the Subway (also known as Left Fork of North Creek).

In case you don’t know, the Subway is a spectacular semi-technical slot canyon in the Kolob Terrace section of Zion National Park.

They call it the Subway because the slot canyon featured sections that were hollowed out by flash floods into a tubular passage that very much would resemble a metropolitan subway.

The cascades featured on this page were merely side attractions to the funky formations that have made this slot somewhat famous amongst canyoneers.

Accessing The Subway

Subway_028_04262003 - The Subway
The Subway

Within the Subway formation, we needed to secure permits (which we obtained at the Watchman Campground’s Backcountry Office).

Actually, the hike was not easy as it was about 8 miles out-and-back including a steep descent down into the canyon carved out by the Left Fork of North Creek.

Plus, following the trail was not obvious at the river level because we had frequently lost the faint paths or the spots we were supposed to have crossed the creek.

On top of all that, we had to make the steep ascent up the same path that we had gone down earlier to get into the canyon.

Subway_014_04262003 - One of the dinosaur tracks on the way to the Subway
One of the dinosaur tracks on the way to the Subway

But at least the trail was a bit more obvious to follow on the way back.

During the long hike and route-finding within the Left Fork of North Creek, we noticed some slabs of rock that had dinosaur tracks on them! That was really cool!

The constant presence of water also helped us deal with some of the warm temperatures during our April 2003 visit.

I can’t imagine how much more unbearable the conditions would be deeper in the Summer months.

Subway_042_04262003 - The series of deep pools where just around the bend was a waterfall and climbing obstacle. We were ill-equipped to proceed past this point
The series of deep pools where just around the bend was a waterfall and climbing obstacle. We were ill-equipped to proceed past this point

We didn’t get to experience much of the Subway’s scenic features outside of its lowest extremes because we needed to have canyoneering gear.

That was too bad because I understand that the most scenic part of the Subway was a little further upstream from where we had to turn around.

As for the Archangel Cascades themselves, they were located a few minutes before the mouth of the Subway.

Although they weren’t terribly impressive, we did have to climb around and through parts of the cascades in order to keep going upstream.

Subway_047_04262003 - Looking towards the mouth of the Subway
Looking towards the mouth of the Subway

Once we were inside the Subway slot canyon, that was when we found out that we needed some canyoneering gear to keep going upstream shortly after rounding the first bend within the slot.

Even if we had gotten into canyoneering, a good deal of preparation would be required as most canyoneers would’ve done this as a one-way through hike going in the other direction.

Authorities

The Archangel Cascades reside in Zion National Park near Springdale in Washington County, Utah. It is administered by the National Park Service. For information or inquiries about the park as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Subway_001_04262003 - Some dome near the Left Fork North Creek trailhead. Our Topo map labeled one of the domes here as 'Molly's Nipple.  Could that be it?
Subway_005_04262003 - Looking down into the canyon carved out by the Left Fork of North Creek. Yep, we'd have to descend into this canyon!
Subway_006_04262003 - Descending down the steep cliff to get down to the river level
Subway_008_04262003 - Once in the canyon, we had a hard time staying with the trail so we often went right into the rough and rugged Left Fork North Creek en route to the Subway
Subway_015_04262003 - Looking back at some impressive sandstone formations as we were stream scrambling beyond the dinosaur tracks
Subway_017_04262003 - The lower Archangel Cascades
Subway_018_04262003 - Context of the middle tiers of the Archangel Cascades on the Left Fork North Creek en route to the Subway
Subway_022_04262003 - The uppermost of the Archangel Cascades on the way to the Subway in Zion National Park
Subway_023_04262003 - Looking down into a groove or crack in the sandstone that the Left Fork North Creek had no trouble filling in and deepending the channel
Subway_025_04262003 - Our first look at the mouth of the Subway after having climbed the Archangel Cascades
Subway_056_04262003 - Facing the Subway during our April 2003 hike
Subway_033_04262003 - Pools and mini cascades within the Subway
Subway_035_04262003 - Closeup of one of the pools and tiny cascades within the Subway
Subway_036_04262003 - The pool obstacle that turned us around. There's a waterfall at the other side of this deep and frigid pool inside the Subway
Subway_041_04262003 - We weren't the only people who were at the Subway during our visit in April 2003
Subway_054_04262003 - Another look back at the potholes and cascades within the Subway
Subway_057_04262003 - Last look back at the mouth of the Subway before we headed back to the trailhead on our rugged April 2003 hike
Subway_060_04262003 - walking towards the top of Archangel Falls
Subway_064_04262003 - Looking back in to the Left Fork North Creek Canyon as we were making our way back up to the trailhead towards the end of the afternoon of our long return hike to the Subway

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The Archangel Cascades and the Subway are along the so-called Kolob Terrace part of Zion National Park.

Coming from Los Angeles, we’d drive east to the I-15 then northeast all the way to St George (about 5.5 hours drive without traffic or under 2 hours past Las Vegas).

Just north of St George, we’d then drive east on State Highway 9 and take it for about 27 miles (a little over 30 minutes) to the town of Virgin.

Note that from Springdale (a town right at the south entrance of the main part of Zion National Park that we usually stay at whenever we spend a night or more in the area), Virgin would be 18 miles or roughly 20 minutes drive to the west along Hwy 9.

From Virgin, we’d then leave the Hwy 9 and drive north along the Kolob Terrace Road (or Kolob Reservoir Road).

Note that there are two ways to do the Subway hike – the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead at the top end for the technical canyoneering one-way shuttle and the Left Fork Trailhead at the bottom end for the out-and-back day hike.

We’re only focusing on the Left Fork Trailhead since that’s the way we did it.

So on Kolob Terrace Road, we drove about 8 miles north to the well-signed Left Fork Trailhead.

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Tagged with: subway, kolob terrace, virgin, springdale, george, zion, washington county, left fork, north creek, wildcat canyon, canyoneering, keyhole falls, lower subway, utah, waterfall, dinosaur tracks



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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