Behunin Canyon

This wide wash with long drop-offs is located west of Mount Majestic and drains into Emerald Pools which is the end of the hike. Isaac Behunin was the first settler in Zion Canyon and this canyon was named after him.

zion National Park CanyoneeringAt a Glance
Photo Albums: Behunin Canyon Pictures
Topo Map: Behunin Canyon Topo Map
Distance: 8.5 miles round trip
Average Time: 9 hours
Difficulty: Technical canyoneering skills required. This is a drier canyon that is nice to do in the spring or fall when the other canyons are cold.
Equipment: Two 165' ropes or one rope and a pull-cord and biner block. Also webbing, harness, rappel device, sticky rubber shoes, helmet and a dry bag.
Technical: Long rappels and downclimbing. Longest rappel is 165'.
ACA Canyon Rating: 3A III
Permits: Required for any technical canyoneering in Zion National Park. Group size max: 12 which is the maximum hikers allowed in the canyon per day.
Trail Conditions: Steep but well maintained paved trail to the canyon up the West Rim Trail. November to May a narrow upper section of the trail called "Little Siberia" is usually snow packed and dangerous.
Trailhead: Grotto Picnic Area - West Rim Trail
Trailend: Middle Emerald Pool
Off the Beaten Path: Yes
Classic Zion Canyon: Yes
Best Season: It gets hot in Behunin so many enjoy canyoneering in the spring or fall.
Starting Elevation: 4320'
Elevation Gain: 2400'
Hazards: Call the Zion Canyon Visitors Center for weather conditions prior to the hike: (435) 772-3256. Hiking in slot canyons presents a very real danger from flash flooding. Do not hike this trail if it is raining. Remember a storm far off can trigger a flash flood. Behunin has a moderate flash flood danger.
Water availability: Bring your own.
Restrooms: Restrooms are located at Scouts Lookout (they close at times) and the Grotto Picnic area.
Canyoneering: Never enter a technical canyon without the knowledge and skills needed to safely explore and return. Rappelling and downclimbing skills are required to navigate through Behunin Canyon. Do not jump. Jumping in Zion's canyons have resulting in many broken bones. Many technical canyons, such as Behunin Canyon, also require excellent map reading skills to navigate.

Never enter a technical canyon without the knowledge and skills needed to safely explore and return. Rappelling and down-climbing skills are required to navigate through Behunin Canyon. Do not jump. Jumping in Zion's canyons have resulting in many broken bones. Many technical canyons, such as Birch Hollow, also require gps skills or excellent map reading skills to navigate.

Zion National Park Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Mileage - Behunin Canyon

Grotto Picnic area to Scouts Lookout: 1.75 miles

Grotto Picnic Area to the Trailhead at Behunin Canyon: 4.7 miles

Grotto Picnic Area to the first Long Rappel in Behunin Canyon: 6 miles

Grotto Picnic Area to the Last Rappel in Behunin Canyon: 7.2 miles

Total hike: 8.5 miles

Although this is mostly a dry canyon there are times you will get quite wet, but most of the time this is a great spring canyon.

Southern Utah Flash Flood info.
North Fork Virgin River - Flash Flood Info

Directions to Zion National Park

From the North: Travel I-15 south, past Beaver. exit on Hwy 20. Follow US-89 to Mount Carmel Junction. Take SR-9 to Zion's east entrance.
From Arizona: Travel US-89A through Fredonia, Arizona and Kanab Utah. Follow US-89 to Mount Carmel Junction. Take SR-9 to the east park entrance.
From the South: Travel I-15 north. Take exit 16 and travel through Hurricane to LaVerkin. Continue on SR-9 to the south entrance of the park. SR-9 through Zion National Park is always open and is also called the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway. See restrictions for RV's

Zion National Park Maps
Zion's Behunin Canyon

Most of the time this is a dry canyon.


Lodging Zion National Park
Lodging Zion National ParkLodging and services are available on the gorgeous east side of Zion National Park, where guests are close to Zion National Park (12 miles), Bryce Canyon National Park (60 miles), Cedar Breaks National Monument (45 miles), Coral Pink Sand Dunes (12 miles), and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (85 miles). It's where city traffic is absent and the skies are bright and clean.


Trailhead - The initial section of Behunin Canyon is bordered on the western side with cliff faces and on the east side by low angled dirt and slick rock. Continue south through Behunin Canyon. Gamble oak and Box Elders are the prominent large vegetation in the canyon. Social trails have developed through the canyon which make travel easier but are discouraged due to the impact on the canyon.

Hike up the West Rim Trail and bypass the footbridge after dropping downhill into what is commonly referred to as "Little Siberia". Approximately 1 mile past the bridge, the head of Behunin comes into view. (Do not continue up the long switchbacks blasted into the rock face that at the top of the West Rim and West Rim Spring.) A small trail through the vegetation appears on the left of the West Rim Trail, just prior to ascending the final switchbacks to the top of the West Rim. This trail descends to the head of Behunin Canyon. The path is dirt and quite steep, but soon leads onto low angle slab slickrock. Steer to the right once on the slickrock, bearing toward the dirt and vegetation to find once again the steep trail descending to the head of Behunin Canyon. Continue south through Behunin Canyon. About 15 minutes into the canyon are some small slickrock obstacles than can be chimneyed or scrambled over. About a half mile from the head of the canyon is a small pool that is often filled with water. The pool can be avoided by scrambling along the slickrock. The sandy wash soon narrows and the canyon walls provide shade for hikers and vegetation and small pools of water add to the nice scenery.

Zion Book: Favorite Hikes in and around Zion National ParkFirst Rappel - Breaking away from the sandy bottomed wash and entering the slickrock pour off, some canyoneers choose to rappel down at this point. Others choose to follow the ledge to the east, that runs along the slickrock face, leading to a corner system that can be down-climbed to a required rappel. Note the bright webbing wrapped around the base of a large ponderosa pine tree on the south side of the wash. 165'

Second Rappel - The second rappel is done from a large ponderosa pine tree sitting by itself in the middle of the massive slab of slickrock. This rappel descends approximately 120' and at times becomes quite steep and overhanging. You will arrive at a moderately sized bowl still 75' from the bottom of the main wash of Behunin Canyon.

Third Rappel - The third rappel is accomplished by using an anchor consisting of bolts placed on the right outside of the bowl as you look out to the canyon floor below, and will bring you down approximately 100' to the sandy canyon floor.

Forth Rappel - Walking downstream for approximately .25 miles in the sandy wash you will come once again to slickrock in the wash; at this point would will want to bear right and direct yourself towards a small patch of bushes which are located in the slickrock below a large ponderosa tree. Just below this patch of bushes will be another bolt anchor to be used to descend approximately 75' into a slotted section of Behunin Canyon.

Fifth Rappel - After walking downstream for a period you will once again arrive at a drop-off to your left that cuts thru the slickrock and appears to be about a 40' drop into a pool of water below. By using a log that has fallen across the wash as an anchor, you then can proceed to rappel into the pool of water below. There is a social trail that bears off to the right at the top of this rappel ,but is discouraged using it as to minimize impact to the hillside it travels thru; at the end of this trail is a narrow ledge about 10' above the wash and a single bolt may be used to set up a handline or rappel.

Sixth Rappel - Once again continuing downstream you will soon encounter a dryfall. If you scramble up and to the left onto a ridge you will find a steep chute of loose ground which can be rappelled or downclimbed to a large rock outcropping with a tree growing from the backside, perched 40' above a Pool of water and short section of Slot Canyon. There are webbing slings wrapped at the base of this tree (not visible until you arrive at the tree) which are the anchors to rappel into the slot below. It is possible to stay out of the pool and water with climbing and boulder hopping skills. If you choose to stay dry and hop across to the rock platform below, you will then need to traverse a blatancy ledge to continue downstream.

Seventh Rappel - continuing downstream for a short distance by scrambling a few boulders, you will have two options. Either stay left and scramble up to a narrow ledge where you will find an anchor consisting of a bolt and bush, or stay in the watercourse and downclimb past a large boulder in the wash where you will find a webbing anchor underneath a large boulder/chockstone. The latter anchor makes for an easier rope-pull from the bottom. Either rappel you decide to do takes you down a slickrock wash that is approximately 100' until you arrive at a large platform overlooking the Middle Emerald Pool and trails below.

Eighth Rappel - drop off to the left of the Rock Slab into the wash once again and you may see a chimney that drops off to your right. Carefully ease down this chimney about 8' and walk out to the edge where you will find a bolt anchor system for the final 155' rappel. This rappel is free-hanging for the final 110' and piggy-backing any large packs may make for an easier more enjoyable descent.

Exit - Once you have finished this final rappel it is just a .25 mile boulder hopping/best route finding/scramble down to meet up with the Kayenta Trail out to the Grotto (1 Mile).

please link to meBeta: Coordinates and other trail and canyoneering information by Zion Park search and rescue veteran team member Bo Beck and author Tanya Milligan.

To post trip reports, offer corrections, updates, or for more information please visit the Zion National Park Forum

Suggested Gear: A sturdy pair of shoes are recommend to hike the trails in Zion National Park. Many quality shoes will help grip the rocks and prevent injury.

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