I love to get out alone. I realized today, no one knew where I was going, not even me.
No itineraries. Just let it happen.
With enough time and water, a lot of adventure can happen. In Zion in the canyon itself, a person can't get lost too easily, for too long. Both sides are steep along a narrow valley complete with river and road. Both of these major landmarks are visible much of the time from the cliffs which line this valley.
It can get pretty dangerous, however, because there are drop offs of several hundred feet. Its hot and water can become an issue if you're high above the river.
The river is a good source of water in an emergency with some form of treatment. Some use chemicals, some filters, some nothing.
I am a fan of chlorine droplets. The EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, recommends everyone have bleach (chlorine ) in case of emergency water treatment. You don't see a water filter being recommended. Chlorine is widely used for municipal water treatment. It is also used to sanitize hospital.
Its always best to choose a small stream over a river, when possible. Small streams have fewer pollutants in general, fewer sources emptying into the body of water. The Virgin River has horses tramping through it, people playing in it, and wild animals using it.
A small stream may generate from a natural spring, with little or no pollutants.
Descending slopes in a slow controlled manner is always best. A "switch" back style of hiking lessens the chance of creating an avalanche. It prevents erosion and uprooting of vegetation.