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Icebox Canyon

Icebox Canyon is a beautiful, arrow straight canyon that runs north - south through a deep cut in sandstone mountains of the northern section of Zion National Park. The hike is long and strenuous, and requires special equipment to descend. Starting early in the morning will help you beat the heat on the slow, tedious ascent to the North Pass entry of Icebox Canyon. Carrying plenty of water for the first 3 miles is important. In the actual canyon of Icebox, water should be available to filter or purify. Long pants should be worn on the approach, as you will be walking through heavy scrub. Carry emergency supplies and be prepared to spend a night if needed. Rappelling skills are required to navigate through this slot canyon. 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.

Zion Book: Favorite Hikes in and around Zion National ParkAt a Glance
Photo Album:
Icebox Canyon Pictures
Trail Maps: Icebox Topo Map
Day Trip:
Yes, but from dawn to dusk
Distance: The entire hike: 12.25 miles
5.75 (10 hours min.) to the arch and 6.5 (4 hours min) back to the car from Kolob Arch.
Average Hiking Time: 16 hours
Equipment: Two 165' ropes, webbing, slings, harness, rappel device, map, dry bag and a helmet. Long pants for bushwhacking.
Technical: Longest rappel: 145'
ACA Canyon Rating: 3B IV
Difficulty: Strenuous hiking, river hiking and boulder hopping. Technical rappels. During the steep approach expect bushwhacking and hiking up 1100' in .5 miles.
Permits: Required. Check the weather report before hiking this trail. Do not hike if it looks like rain
Trailhead: Trailhead for Kolob Arch (Lee Pass) at the Kolob Canyons section of the park.
Trailend: Lee Pass via Kolob Arch
Total Elevation change: 2700'
Elevation: Lee Pass: 6200'
Elevation: Grueling hillside approach: 1000' in .75 miles
Off the Beaten Path: Yes
Classic Zion Canyon: No
Best season: When the days are long and there is more daylight.


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. Icebox has a low flash flood danger.

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 Icebox Canyon Trail - Park at the Lee Pass Trailhead in the Kolob Canyons (Kolob Fingers) district of Zion National Park. The closest city is Cedar City, Utah.

Begin by walking 1 mile and descending 250' of elevation on the trail that goes to Kolob Arch and La Verkin Creek. Kolob Arch, the worlds second longest arch will be visited at the culmination of the canyon section. You will be descending a ridge for most of the time, but at the 1 mile point you will come to a drainage that the trail crosses. At this drainage turn left and walk about 100 meters until it intersects another drainage; turn left at this drainage and hike up the drainage (north-easterly) for 1.5 miles. Notice a drainage coming in from the north, identified by a large slickrock alcove. Then look for a bench of vegetation at the base of the cliff, right of the alcove.

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 Ice Box Canyon

Zion Search and Rescue veteran, Bo Beck, on rappel dropping in Icebox 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.

 

Route to the Slickrock Pass entry - This becomes the route to gain the ridge. Walk under the cliff on this bench, to the right, and soon you will find a short slab up climb to the steep slope above. Once on the slope, walk mainly easterly through the thick brush and soon you will gain a ridge that becomes prominent and easier travel than the slopes to the left. Following this ridge goes east-north-east, up and towards five very large ponderosa pine trees at the head of the Slickrock Pass entry to Icebox Canyon. This ridge is almost .75 miles, gaining 1000' from the wash bottom.

When arriving at the pass look for a steep slickrock chute. That is your descent route to the head of Icebox Canyon. While walking down the chute it will begin to open up to a large slickrock slab. Stay in the watercourse where bolt anchors appear as the angle gets stepper. You may choose to set up handline's or rappel from these single bolt anchors or bypass the first anchor (an old bolt with an old style sheet metal hanger) and continued down 100' to a newer single bolt anchor with screw-links attached.

First Rappel - At this point rappel approximately 140' to another single bolt anchor with a webbing sling and rap ring.

Second Rappel - You can rig another rappel off the single bolt and rap ring and descend 120' to a double bolt anchor with webbing and another rap ring.

The above rappels are in the natural watercourse.

Third Rappel - After rigging the fourth rappel, rappel and traverse to the right (if facing out) toward a lone pine tree with two webbing slings wrapped at the base, (approximately 120').

Forth Rappel - From the tree, rappel (quite steep now), down approximately 140' to a large ledge above the canyon floor.

Fifth Rappel - The next station is a 3 bolt anchor. Rappel the last 140' to arrive at terra firma and Icebox Canyon.

The total descent to the canyon floor is .2 miles and approximately 300 vertical feet. You can now store your rope and find your way down this lush, rocky wash.

Icebox Canyon - The walls are steep and tall but as you look ahead the canyon seems as straight as an arrow. The contrast of vegetation and deep reds and shades of the rock mesmerize. The canyon will keep your attention as you travel to the south, always throwing a challenge to find the easiest path to follow. Not far into the hike - boulder hopping venture, water will begin to trickle down the watercourse, spurring even more lush vegetation. The seepage of water from the sheer cliff faces will dot the cliffs with hanging gardens and glowing mossy growth. Soon, maybe .5 miles into the hike the first canyon obstacle appears as the sheer cliff walls come together and form a slotted pool below.

zion National Park CanyoneeringSixth Rappel - On the right side of the slot, on a sloping traverse, notice one bolt with webbing and just past that another bolt. Your choice as to which to use. The drop from these bolts would surely put you in the swimming mode 30' below if it were not for a sloping ledge below that can be traversed 50' downstream after an initial rappel 20' toward the water. Feet will get wet but that should be all.

Seventh Rappel and cold water swim - Continuing down canyon a very short distance finds another even more slotted rappel, once again with the anchor on the right side of the wall when approaching. This time, unless you are very good at chimney - stemming, you will swim. It is a narrow slot, but a short 30' swim to a chock-stone then another 30' swim out of the slot to the bank downstream.

Put away the rope now, the next obstacle is a ways down canyon.

Eighth Rappel - The next obstacle is a ledge, once again on the right, that travels some distance (75 meters) before a single bolt appears around the corner. The slickrock gets stepper as you travel to gain this single bolt anchor. Below is a "lake" and it will be a short drop from the bolt to the dirt slope below, then a quick downhill scramble to the "lake".

Ninth Rappel - Heading down canyon there is one more obstacle "boulder jam" that is difficult, but possible to downclimb. Anchor possibilities are present for a short 9' drop at the jam including the use of a jammed log.

Continuing downstream will yield larger boulders to negotiate and soon the bank on the left appears to be a viable option to bypass some of the larger boulders below. This is the path to follow to gain another steep rocky drainage against the left cliff face where soon it will be apparent that this drainage was necessary to descend and bypass the large slabby slickrock waterfalls to the right. Take time to look up and scramble up as far as possible and view the magnificent falls that you just bypassed! It is now a fairly easy and short hike down the wash, until arriving at "Kolob Arch". zion National Park Canyoneering

Kolob Arch - When you see the arch, you will have traveled just over 5 miles. It is a short .5 miles now to the junction of the Kolob Arch Trail and Laverkin Creek - Lee Pass Trail. From this point walk 2 miles along La Verkin Creek, through sand and hard-packed dirt, until the ascent and final 4 miles up the ridge to Timber Creek, along the creek and finally the ridge to Lee Pass where the hike began.

GPS Coordinates WGS84 Datum

Timber Creek Junction at Bottom of Lee Pass Trail:
37 26.3256N
113 11.4654W

Scramble Out Of Timber Creek:
37 26.6939N
113 10.3461W

Freestanding Arches in Zion National Park

 

Beta: Coordinates and other trail and canyoneering information by Zion Park search and rescue veteran team member Bo Beck and www.zionnational-park.com author Tanya Milligan.

please link to meTo 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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