SALT LAKE CITY — The bodies of two Nevada men who planned to float a dangerous river in Zion National Park have been identified, authorities said Tuesday.
Authorities recovered the bodies Monday. One was at the exit of The Narrows, a turbulent section of the Virgin River’s north fork. The other was 2½ miles downstream, park ranger Ron Terry said.
The National Park Service and sheriff’s deputies were withholding the identifies of the men, both in their 20s and from the Las Vegas area, until later Tuesday as a courtesy to their families.
Family members told authorities the men set out Wednesday or Thursday and planned to hike into the top of The Narrows, then ford the river to an intersection with Deep Creek, where they planned to build a log raft and float to Hurricane, Utah, a distance of some 50 miles. The men failed to return from the trip Sunday as expected.
They didn’t notify rangers about their plans or try to obtain any permits, Terry said.
The Park Service would not have issued a hiking permit in The Narrows because of the danger of high water, nor would officials have approved the plan to build a log raft, he said.
Neither man had cold-water gear or a life vest, and there was no evidence of a raft. They would have had to swim much of The Narrows in deep water that is around 40 degrees, Terry said.
The manner of death for each man wasn’t immediately obvious, and the bodies were taken by the Utah medical examiner’s office, Washington county sheriff’s Detective Nate Abbott said Tuesday.
“We can put two and two together and assume these were the gentlemen their families were looking for,” he said.
“It’s anybody’s guess at this point” what happened, Abbott said. “We could probably come up with 20 different scenarios.”
The deaths were the first in The Narrows since 1998, when a flash flood killed two hikers, according to the Park Service.
Zion National Park is about 140 miles northeast of Las Vegas.