East Zion Cabins
Zion RV Park
St. George Rental
Zion National Park
Pink Sand Dunes
& Favorite SW Sites
The Ultimate Southwest Vacation includes Zion National Park, Utah!
Stay in Mount Carmel Junction, the heart of the parks, and
visit the treasures of the Southwest.
Zion Park 12 miles
Plan your Zion National Park Vacation with our Utah Maps and
Grand Staircase 9 miles
Sand Dunes 11 miles
Dixie Forest 22 miles
Cedar Breaks 45 miles
Red Canyon 47 miles
Coyote Butte 57 miles
Bryce Canyon 60 miles
North Rim 85 miles
Toroweap 90 miles
In these pages you will find insiders information on Zion National
Park lodging, adventures and hikes. This detailed guide includes road maps, park
maps, pictures, trail beta, backpacking, history, fees, geology, flora, fauna,
campgrounds, things for kids to do and even information on Zion's hidden treasures.
Making summer memories in the Utah National Parks and National
National Park Map
Directions to Zion National Park
From Salt Lake City: Travel I-15 south, past Beaver.
Exit on Hwy 20. Follow US-89 to Mount Carmel Junction. Take U-9 to Zion's east
From Arizona: Travel 89A through Fredonia, Arizona
and Kanab Utah. Follow US-89 to to Mount Carmel Junction. Take U-9 to the east
From Las Vegas: Travel I-15 north. Take exit 16 and
travel through Hurricane. Make a right on U-9 at the second traffic light in
LaVerkin. Continue on U-9 to the south entrance of the park. U-9 through Zion
National Park is always open and is also called the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway.
Canyon Shuttle Information
Fat Man's Misery Canyon
Fat Man's Misery has some difficult downclimbing which makes
this canyon a bit more adventurous than your average slot canyon.
Powell Plaque Exit
This Exit from Fat Mans Misery is a little over four miles and
ascends 1600' to the pass between Checkerboard Mesa and Crazy Quilt Mountain
and then descends 600' to arrive at the trailhead on Highway 9 in Zion National
After exiting Fat Mans Misery and intersecting with the East Fork of the Virgin
River, turn right and walk downstream for nearly .35 miles. A peninsula
of sand and vegetation will appear on the right.
The Powell Memorial Plaque is imbedded in the sandstone face at the western
most end of this peninsula and Labyrinth Falls is just another short .25 miles
further down stream.
At the peninsula look for the trail behind the vegetation heading uphill.
Begin the exit by following the trail up 50' onto a shoulder above the river.
Steer right, hugging the cliff on the right. There will be a couple of steep
but short 4th class sections on the featured rock as elevation is gained. Continue
north, following the weaknesses that make the steep hiking easier and safer.
After about .25 miles a saddle is gained with steep sandstone slickrock on the
left. It will be necessary to travel up and traverse a narrow ledge system to
the north on this slickrock . The exposure of the bowl on the right may become
a bit intimidating. Traverse the small ledge, in the watercourse from the left,
to gain the short scramble to a well-beaten dirt path. This is the trickiest
and steepest section of the entire exit hike.
Travel to the north on a fairly well beaten path. It will periodically travel
some slickrock sections that are well cairned, and gains elevation steadily as
a north - south running ridge becomes the path to follow. After about .75 miles
the slope eases and travel requires less effort. Staying left of peak 5534, but
maintaining elevation, soon yields views of the left fork of Fat Mans Misery
on the right and another canyon on the left. Continue north on the ridge. After
another mile of travel it will be necessary to drop into the drainage below and
on the left, crossing over and climbing another ridge. Travel north on this second
ridge for a short time, and start steering for the southern slickrock nose of
Checkerboard Mesa. Soon it will be necessary to drop a short distance down into
another drainage on the left and travel in a northwesterly direction, still aiming
for the southern tip of Checkerboard Mesa. Begin looking for the well-beaten
path that heads north to the drainage that separates Checkerboard Mesa on the
right and Crazy Quilt Mountain on the Left. Once the path is located it becomes
easy to maintain travel on the well beaten trail, up and over the saddle and
the 600' vertical descent that will soon end at the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway (SR-9)
in Zion National Park.
Trailhead Parking Lot
GPS coordinates are only references and may or may not be accurate. Do not rely on GPS coordinates as the sole method of navigation. Always have an accurate, detailed map at hand and have the proper map reading and navigation skills before setting out on any hike. Many of the hikes listed in this guide travel into canyons where a GPS has limited capabilities. Always check your position with a detailed map before dropping into a canyon.
Jug Handle Arch
Two Pines Arch
Pa'rus Bike Trail
Fat Man's Misery
Pine Creek Canyon
North Fork Taylor Creek
Beta: Coordinates and other trail and canyoneering information
by Zion Park search and rescue veteran team member Bo
Gear: Rope, webbing, harness and rappelling device. A sturdy pair of
shoes are recommend for canyoneering in Zion . Quality shoes will help grip the
rocks and prevent injury. Experienced Zion hikers and canyoneers like the Sportiva
Exum Ridge. This shoe is great for hiking, bouldering and canyoneering.
To offer corrections, updates, etc... or for more information
please visit the Zion
National Park Forum
Parunuweap and Fat Man's Misery
Exit at Powell Plaque
This is the ideal slot canyon adventure and one of the most beautiful places
in the Zion National Park area. The hike in is decorated with charming water
filled pot holes which summer months bring canyon tree frogs to the pools displaying
all stages of development. The slot canyon lures the canyoneers to its bowels.
Fat Man's Misery twists, turns and winds, offering rock slides, a couple of interesting
rappels and enough difficulty to keep even hard core canyoneers interested. The
narrow slot canyon has it all: trees wedged between the falls, bouldering, slides,
warm pools, cold pools, sandy bottoms, towering canyon walls and a couple of
fun rappels. The East Fork of the Virgin River (Parunuweap Canyon) is as impressive
as the popular Zion Narrows but set in a more remote and wild environment. There
are few adventures that can compare with a trip through Parunuweap, one of the
Southwest's most outstanding canyons. However, this canyon is not the place for
those without rappelling, down climbing, rope and route finding skills. This
route is through a wilderness area offering little hope of running into other
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 Parunuweap Canyon. Do not jump. Jumping in Zion's canyons have resulting in many broken bones. Many canyons, such as Parunuweap also require GPS skills or excellent map reading skills to navigate.
Parunuweap at a Glance
Photo Album: Approach Photos More
Trail Map: Topo
Day hike: Yes.
Distance: 4.75 miles from Checkerboard approach to
the river. .25 miles to the Powell Plaque. Then 4.3 miles to exit.
Average Hiking Time: 12 hours
Equipment: 100' rope, webbing, harness,
rappel device, map, dry bag, helmet and lots of water.
Technical: At least 4 short rappels or downclimbs.
One optional rappel is 50'. The required rappel is 35' and overhanging'. Two
shorter rappels can be downclimbed with a hand-line.
Difficulty: Strenuous hiking, river hiking. Technical
if going through Fat Man's Misery Slot Canyon. Downclimbing skills are needed.
Permits: No permit is required because the technical
section is outside Zion National Park on BLM land. Check the weather report
before hiking this trail. Do not hike if it looks like rain or rain in the Alton
area which is near the head of the East Fork of the Virgin River.
Trailhead: The small pullout just southwest of
the main Checkerboard Mesa viewpoint.
Trailend: Powell Plaque exit back to the Checkerboard
Mesa parking area.
Trail access: The Zion-Mt. Carmel Hwy is open year-round.
Cold river temperatures and heavy current can deter most hikers in the winter
Off the Beaten Path: Yes
Classic Zion Park Canyon: No
Best Season: mid-June to mid-September when the water
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. Flood danger is highest in
August and September. Poison Ivy is present in many places along the river and
in the exit canyon.
Trailhead - Park at the second pullout southwest
of the main Checkerboard Mesa viewpoint located at the far east section of Zion
National Park. Cross the highway and look for the path of use along the narrow
There are some fun pot
holes and slick rock at the start of the hike.
Trail Beta - Follow the drainage that runs next
to the west side of Checkerboard Mesa. Quilt Mountain will be on you right.
(The unnamed mountain to the right of Checkerboard Mesa is called Quilt Mountain
by the locals.) Follow the wash until the beaten dirt path become obvious
on the left. The climb gets steep as the
one mile mark and the head of the canyon is approached. The saddle is summited
(5920'/1804m) at the one mile mark where Parunuweap is
seen to the south. Hike down hill about 150 vertical feet to the bottom of the
saddle and back into the wash. A slick rock bowl is in view. At the slickrock
bowl start heading southeast for about .25 miles and then bear east southeast.
Crossing the first drainage, still maintain an east-southeasterly direction.
Continue east-southeast and cross the second drainage. After topping out
the ridge after the second drainage steer further to the east and
then head southeast to the bottom of the third drainage. Scramble
up the slickrock to view the fourth drainage which is the west fork of Misery
Canyon. It's about 3 miles from the trailhead to Misery Wash. Follow the wash
into the west fork of Fat Man's Misery.
Fat Man's Misery Slot Canyon (West Fork)
Rappelling and excellent downclimbing skills are required to
navigate through Fat Mans Misery. Remember slot canyons can change dramatically
in a short time due to flash floods and water levels in this canyon change. These
directions are only a general reference. Be prepared for variations in the canyon.
Obstacle or Rappel - Once at the bottom of the Misery
wash follow it downstream for a short distance where the canyon soon narrows
to a very narrow slot with an immediate 12' drop which can be down climbed or
there is a single bolt which can be used to set up a hand line or rappel line
located on the left side of the wall. Don't be lured to the slings that may still
be wrapped on a tree trunk above and to the left of the slot.
Obstacles - Continue down the slot canyon negotiating
boulder downclimbs. The canyon will open up periodically, then narrow down again
presenting more boulder problems and slickrock slides.
Obstacle or Rappel - Once near an open area
the canyon drops abruptly out from under, and can be followed by a 50' rappel
into potholes (May present pothole escapes) or scrambling up and to the left
to find a steep descent (route finding skills needed) into the sandy bottom open
Rappel - The final narrow section that must be negotiated
will require rappelling 35' to the slot canyon floor using webbing that has been
slung around some boulders on the left side of the head of the drop. This is
an awkward overhang start with a free hanging finish. Conditions may change and
anchor building skills may be required.
Rappels or Obstacles - Once in the spectacular final narrows,
going down canyon reveals dark rooms with a double natural arch (technically
a bridge) overhead, and the final section has potholes fed with clear warm water
spurting (sulfur spring) from a small tube in the rock. Parunuweap and the East
Fork of the Virgin River now may be heard just around the next bend. There are
four sections of Fat Man's Misery to pass through on this route.
East Fork Virgin River - Barracks
Towering canyon walls enclose the East Fork of the Virgin River in much the
same manner as the Zion Narrows. The exit is to the left, but first head to
the upper narrows section of Parunuweap. This is the section of the river called
the Barracks and is BLM land rather than NPS land. The Barracks section is a
magnificent slot canyon. Hike about .5 miles to the right to explore the Powell
Powell Plaque and ZNP Boundary
Reads as: "Major
John Wesley Powell 1834-1902 explorer, scientist, Steven V. Jones 1840-1920 teacher,
topographer, Joseph W. Young 1829-1873 Mormon pioneer leader, descended Labyrinth
Falls 1/2 mile below Monday, September 30, 1872 during first Parunuweap Canyon
traverse. Powell named this canyon from the Paiute Indian word 'Parunuweap' which
means roaring water canyon. Dedicated September 30, 1972."
Labyrinth Falls: Beyond Labyrinth Falls, to the west, is officially off limits.
avoiding the technical canyoneering section of Fat Man's Misery.
Begin at Mount Carmel Junction (on the east side of Zion National Park), and
follow the East Fork of the Virgin River, past numerous side canyons and exit
at the Powell Plaque.
Be sure to see the Checkerboard
Arch along the way.
Optional Exit - 4WD Shuttle at Elephant Butte
Trail History and Info
East Fork Virgin River
The East Fork of the Virgin River is 50 miles/80km in length and runs south, then west through the southeast corner of Zion National Park. The head of the east fork begins just west of Alton, Utah, runs through Mount Carmel Junction, then the right fork and left fork join right behind the Tree's ranch and fruit stand in Springdale. Checking the Alton weather prior to hiking the East Fork is important to get the report for the head waters.
North Fork Virgin River
The North Fork of the Virgin River is 40 miles/64km in length and runs through Zion Canyon then joins with the east fork in Springdale. The head of the north fork is near Navajo Lake on the Markagunt Plateau.
The Virgin River is made up by the east fork and north fork which meet in Springdale behind the fruit stand. The water flows to the far corner of Utah in the booming city of St. George. It then runs across the northwestern corner of Arizona, near Littlefield. The water continues its flow into southern Nevada, at the mini gambling mecca of Mesquite and then dumps into the Colorado River at the Lake Mead reservoir.