• Swirling leaves
  • The Subway 'glow'

The Express – Zion Subway

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This is the classical shot of the Subway in Zion National Park. All I have to say is: this place rocks! Seriously, the Subway is a marvel of nature with two curved canyon walls coming together to form this almost complete tunnel filled with emerald pools.

Hiking the Subway was the feature event of my week long trip to Utah. This was also the first unmaintained trail that I hiked that required bouldering, rock scrambling, stream crossings, and route finding. Despite the challenges this hike is simply awesome and now ranks as one of my favorites. Not only is the hike to the Subway from the bottom fun but the second half of the trail is very scenic with various cascades.

I originally intended to hike the Subway on Monday but weekend weather did not cooperate and hence I switched my permit to Tuesday to ensure sunny skies to get the glow in the Subway. My dad was also adventurous enough to tag along not wanting to miss this opportunity to see this natural spectacle. To ensure we maximized our time spent in the Subway we headed out of the Left Fork trailhead around 7:30 am. Along the way we made various stops to photograph various cascades, the dinosaur tracks, and the always interesting crack. We arrived at the subway by 11:30 am. From the top of Archangel Cascades I watched as the walls on both sides of the canyon came together and eventually form that tunnel, the Subway.

Once inside the Subway I was just speechless. It was beautiful with pools of emerald ponds and fallen foliage. I ended staying around in the Subway for almost an hour waiting for the sun to rise overhead. When the sun reached the proper position past noon the sunlight reflects off the canyon walls and beams into the Subway creating a wondrous glow. Thankfully my dad rented canyoneering shoes for the both of us. These shoes were like suction cups on the slippery rocks. I was able to walk up and down through the water and cascades without ever slipping. After firing off quite some shots we made our journey back. Somehow the trip back felt much faster. Maybe we were already familiar with the routes we had to take or maybe the satisfaction of me finally seeing the Subway helped pass the time. We charged on until the final ascent, the worst part of it all: a 400-ft scramble up a steep hill littered with rocks and an uneven pathway. Slowly but surely, huffing and puffing, we made it up the rigorous scramble. Those squats and sprint workouts surely helped me out here.

In the end my GPS tripometer read 10.14 miles of total hiking. My legs were tired, my stomach was growling, but my face was smiling! Stay tuned for more upcoming Zion images.

Canon 5D Mark II
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L
Hoya Pro-1D polarizer


Kelsey Lee Photo, Oli Mille, and 99 other people added this photo to their favorites.

View 17 more comments

  1. Willie Huang Photo 30 months ago | reply

    Thanks David! I think the waterflow was slightly greater the day I went compared to Aaron's. I tried getting the swirls but the leaves rather just flowed downstream. So instead I went for the cleaner emerald pool like with just some minor swirls at the sides

  2. RichGreenePhotography.com 30 months ago | reply

    Great job -- no doubt it was worth the effort. Beautiful image!

    Seen on your photo stream. (?)

  3. Christopher Brian's Photography 29 months ago | reply

    The swirling birds on the right looks a bit like a sparrow. Great image!

    Seen on your photo stream. (?)

  4. Willie Huang Photo 29 months ago | reply

    Haha good eye there...I hadn't realized that before

  5. BlueisCoool 29 months ago | reply

    Very nice work - congrats !

  6. John Couture 29 months ago | reply

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos and story. I too love the subway and was rewarded with some memorable shots after the long hike.

  7. Ewen K 29 months ago | reply

    What a fantastic place. Beautifully shot.

  8. vpanicker 29 months ago | reply

    Classical; never gets old. Beautiful contrast of colors.

  9. Fableq8 28 months ago | reply

    magnificent water movement and details

  10. Gordon Hunter 27 months ago | reply

    what an amazing place, great shot, well composed.

  11. Hviitveis [deleted] 27 months ago | reply

    Amazing shot!

  12. OM2. 26 months ago | reply

    This place looks incredible. How's that water for swimming?

  13. Walter B 25 months ago | reply

    Great comp - nice colors and textures......and another great write-up.

  14. fossiled 21 months ago | reply

    Wonderful crop and composition.

  15. sullivan06 13 months ago | reply

    10 miles round trip? I thought it was only like 7.6-- no wonder it took us so much longer than expected when i did it last week. nice shot btw.

  16. maedge1961 9 months ago | reply

    Beautiful shot. I've been to Zion before but never heard of this spot. After my knee replacement, I really want to see this in person. Thanks a lot for showing me such an amazing place. I can't wait.....Thanks again

  17. dwfphoto 7 months ago | reply

    Great shot. Beautiful light and color tones. Appreciate the description of your hike, it adds a lot of color to the photo.

  18. Ron Bernstein 6 months ago | reply

    terrific shot - about to go to Zion to visit this in two weeks, so this is good inspiration!

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