Towers of the Virgin – Panorama

Towers of The Virgin - Zion National Park

Click on the image to load the panorama in a lightbox-style window without leaving this page. To view it fullscreen, click the fullscreen icon on the far right of the control bar of the panorama once it loads. The iPad / iPhone link is at the bottom of the page

While I was in Zion National Park last month, I took several panoramas that I haven’t had time to stitch or post yet. This is one of them. In addition to being the first panorama posted with the updated viewer (it should load much faster than they have previously), this is also the first one that I’m publishing the link for the iPad / iPod version of the panorama viewer.

Backstory to this shot:

One last trip for the 2010 canyoneering season

Chris Raver asked me if I wanted to go do one last canyon in Zion along with a few other guys at the beginning of September. I agreed, and we started the game of trying to pick what to do. We decided on Behunin canyon over The Subway since we’ve done the Subway nigh unto a billion times, and it would be hard to top the conditions we experienced when we did it in May of this year (high flowing water = fun in The Subway if you are prepared and have experience… kind of like I imagine an extra-angry bull is extra fun for a rodeo pro, but would be lethal to a normal guy like me).

Always wanting to stretch the trips out to get the most canyons in that we can in the time we are down there (one trip we were down in Zion for 36 hours and of those hours – all but two of them when we weren’t sleeping were spent canyoneering… we’re pretty efficient and will often bang out more than one in a day). Our favorite nightcap canyon is Keyhole canyon – which we will hit up right as the sun is setting and complete with headlamps and drysuits. This canyon takes only about an hour or two, but it’s a blast at night. Unfortunately, keyhole was out because of construction.

Another fun one to do on the night before or morning after a big trip is Pine Creek. It’s a short canyon – only 3 or so hours long (but much longer if you have a big group) – but it was also closed because of construction. So was Spry canyon, and a number of other good short options.

The plan to do Mystery canyon

Chris suggested that he would go down and sit up all night at the permit window to secure a Mystery canyon permit – and that sounded like a great idea. He drove down Thursday afternoon and sat in the window at the backcountry desk for about 12 hours before it opened (this was labor day weekend). He was the second one in line and he was able to snag the six available Mystery Canyon permits for our group (good work Chris!).

Hmm… No Mystery Canyon

So fast forward to Friday night as we are all sitting around the table at an overpriced eatery in Springdale, UT discussing our plans for the next day. I just talked to my wife who is pregnant and having bad morning sickness, and she said something to the effect of “I would prefer if you would come back early, but do what you want.” When I bring up the fact I’m going to have to bail, suddenly a lot of other people start having excuses as well… and it turns out nobody is really feeling up to Mystery anymore and we all decide to bail. At that point, we probably could have called the backcountry desk to turn in the permit to let someone else go, but our minds were more focused on sleep.

So what does that long backstory have to do with this shot?

Excellent book with lots of photo spots in Utah listed.

I wanted some sunrise shots in Zion – and this is one spot you can drive your car to even in shuttle bus season. We drove up here, I walked to this spot, and I got my sunrise shots of this area. The main reason I wanted to go here was because Laurent Martrés says in his book “Photographing the Southwest: Volume 1- A guide to the natural landmarks of Southern Utah” :

“At Sunrise, this is the most beautiful panorama in Zion.”

So, how can you argue with that? Now – he says “panorama” and then shows a clip of basically a 25-degree field-of-view of just the Towers of the Virgin, so perhaps we use the word to mean different things…. but just like I can’t pass up taking a panorama at any place called “panorama point”, I also couldn’t argue with a guy with a name that is spelt like matress and beyond my ability to pronounce.

Now that I’ve got this sunrise panorama out of the way, I’m sure some time that I’m down there I can find one that is more stunning – although I will admit I do like this one. Especially now that I can look at it without feeling my legs aching from hiking the day before.

What you see in the Panorama

From left to right when you first load it, you see the West Temple, the Sundial, the Temple of the Virgin, and the Altar of Sacrifice (the Altar of Sacrifice is easy to see – it has the flat top and the red streak coming down it). As you pan around you see other named stuff, like the Watchman, and the Human History Museum. Some guy in a Ben & Jerry’s shirt was admiring my work while I was there too ;)

The links!

Flash version

If the above link doesn’t work, you can view the full 360 panorama of the Towers of the Virgin at Sunrise in Zion National Park

iPad / iPod Version

You can use a special HTML5/CSS 3D viewer of the iPad-friendly panorama of the Towers of the Virgin in Zion National Park

Android Version

If you are on android, you can use the normal full flash link (as long as you have installed the Flash player on your Android phone) – and if you are side-by-side with an iPhone user you can rub in the fact that yours will zoom in farther since it will dynamically load images as it zooms whereas the HTML5/CSS3D viewer cannot.