Zion National Park Canyoneering

In Zion National Park, canyoneering and mountain climbing are the ultimate sports. If you're thinking of joining the world of canyoneering, be ready to lug a wetsuit up steep mountains, swim in dirty-ice cold water, climb up and down boulders and other obstacles, scale slick rocks and learn the technical skill and rope work required for rappelling and getting yourself through a canyon. This sport is not for the timidTanya Milligan Canyoneering in Zion and faint of heart and can be thought of as "hiking with a rope." Be sure that you never enter a technical canyon without the knowledge and skills needed to safely explore and return. Finding a canyon can require GPS and excellent map reading skills.

Canyoneering Photos

Backcountry permits are required for technical and semi-technical slot canyons located in Zion, but those canyons starting on the edge of the park can be explored without permits, as long as the exit is outside the park boundary. Obtain current technical slot canyon details and the weather report from the Zion backcountry desk before attempting any technical slot canyon.

Sources for Canyoneering
Do your research from many sources and study detailed information about the slot canyon you plan to explore. Tom Jones whom most affectionately call the Emperor of Canyoneering offers accurate information on canyoneering in the Southwest and also instructs in the Zion area.
Contact Tom Jones

Zion Search and Rescue Veteran, Bo BeckCanyoneering Gear:
A sturdy pair of shoes are recommended for canyoneering in Zion National Park. Quality shoes will help grip the rocks and prevent injury.

Zion's Canyoneering Limits: 80 permits are allowed daily for the
Subway and Keyhole. 50 people may travel through Pine Creek and Orderville daily. Only 12 people daily are allowed in the following zones: Icebox Canyon, Lodge Canyon, Kolob Creek, Imlay Canyon, Heaps Canyon, Englestead Canyon, Echo Canyon, Behunin Canyon, Spry Canyon, Mystery Canyon.

Semi-technical Slot Canyons: Subway, Red Cave, Orderville Canyon and when conditions permit, the non-technical section of Echo Canyon. These four impressive slot canyons might require some rappelling to explore and a rope is often needed to navigate obstacles. Those attempting the routes should be fit, able to navigate obstacles and swim.

Zion's Technical Slot Canyons
Keyhole is the technical canyon that normally is considered appropriate for beginners who have good rope and rappelling skills. If your skills are not up to par for technical canyoneering, try the Zion Narrows or the semi-technical canyons in Zion: Orderville Canyon and The Subway. Although many canyoneers consider Pine Creek to be an "easy canyon", the rappels are not easy and for some they are terrifying. The hike to and out of the canyon is easy compared to other canyons. Obtain proper instruction before ever attempting any canyoneering.

Desert RatCanyoneering Equipment - The kind of gear you will need for your visit to Zion National Park depends on which trails or routes you plan to do. Comfortable, well-fitting shoes and neoprene socks are a must. If hiking the Zion Narrows is on your vacation itinerary you might want to invest in a good pair of aquatic shoes. Bo Beck, at the Desert Rat, can help you with quality canyoneering gear.

Zion Book: Favorite Hikes in and around Zion National ParkImportant Notice - "I've been studying the canyon tree frogs in Zion for 3 summers now, and have just heard that the horrible chytrid fungus may be present in some frogs from Pine Creek.  I'd like to offer some simple tips that can help prevent the spread of this disease, which will likely kill a large percentage of frogs that get infected.  The main way to stop the spread is very simple: let your gear dry completely between canyons whenever possible.  The most likely way to spread the disease is to get some of the fungus on your equipment (you won't see it) and then do another canyon in a different drainage before everything is completely dry.  If your gear dries, the fungus dies. There is lots of info online about this fungus and how to prevent it from spreading and how it's decimating worldwide amphibian populations, but if our canyoneering community can just keep this one simple idea in mind, we might slow it down or even stop its spread locally."
Curt Walker - Biology Professor at Dixie State College in St. George

Canyoneering in Zion National Park

You are responsible for YOUR own safety!

The canyons on this page are listed in a general order of what we consider easiest to hardest,
keeping in mind many different factors. Know your limits and stay within them.

Bo Beck, a veteran on Zion's high angle Search and Rescue Team, has wrote the canyoneering reports on this site that are in and around Zion National Park. When it comes to Zion, Hiking, Canyoneering or ropes we all say - "Bo Knows!" Visit my Bo Beck page to learn more about him.

Zion Canyoneering

Canyon Approach

Canyon Exit

Total Mileage

Average Time RT

Technical Beta

Zion Narrows East Zion - 4WD North Fork Road Temple of Sinawava
Zion Canyon
16 miles
13 hours
Slippery rocks, river hiking, some swimming.
Orderville Canyon East Zion - 4WD North Fork Road Zion Narrows to Temple of Sinawava
11 miles
8 hours
Short rappels, river hiking, down-climbing, swimming. This is one of Zion's easiest canyons.
The Subway Kolob Terrace Wildcat Trailhead Kolob Terrace - Left Fork Trailhead - Steep uphill hike
9.5 miles
7 hours
Short rappels, river hiking, down-climbing, swimming. This is one of Zion's easiest canyons.
Lower Red Cave East Zion
Mt, Carmel Jct.
3 miles 4WD or hike

East Zion - 4WD Mt. Carmel Jct.

3 miles plus slot
4 hours
3A I
Short rappels, bouldering, down-climbing
Upper Red Cave East Zion - Mount Carmel Jct.
6.3 miles 4WD or hike
East Zion - 4WD Mt. Carmel Jct.
6.3 miles plus slot
2 hours
Bouldering, short up-climbs, down-climbing, swimming
Keyhole Canyon Hwy 9 - 1.8 miles east of the Zion Mt. Carmel Tunnel SR-9 - 1.8 miles East of the Zion Mt. Carmel Tunnel
.5 miles
2 hours
3B I
Short rappels, cold, narrow canyon swimming, wetsuit suggested.
Yankee Doodle Leeds/Silver Reef area, 3.5 miles south of the I15 Zion/ Toquerville exit. End of the canyon and hike back to parking area.
1 mile
2 hours
3A I
One rappel and lots of down-climbing.
Pine Creek Canyon East side of Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. Easy Approach Third Switchback below the Zion Mt. Carmel Tunnel

1.4 miles

5 hours
Last rappel:100', swimming cold pools, awkward starts. Wetsuit suggested
Echo Canyon

Weeping Rock parking lot to Observation Point Trail to the jct with the East Rim Trail.

Jct of Echo Canyon and Observation Point Trail to Weeping Rock parking lot
5 miles
5 hours
Several short rappels, down-climbing, awkward starts, swimming in cold water. Wetsuit suggested
Das Boot Kolob Terrace Wildcat Trailhead Kolob Terrace
Left Fork Trailhead
10.8 miles
10 hours - includes Subway
Rappels up to 40', awkward down-climbs, swimming, cold water wetsuit required.
Behunin Canyon Grotto to West Rim Trail 4.5 miles Middle
Emerald Pool
8.5 miles
9 hours
Many long rappels up to 165', some down-climbing.
Mystery Canyon East Zion - North Fork Road. Steep, difficult loose scree down hill hike. Zion Narrows to Temple of Sinawava
6 miles
8 hours
Many long rappels up to 130' some down-climbing, one mild waterfall to rappel.
Parunuweap Canyon Checkerboard Mesa East Zion - 4WD Mt. Carmel Jct.
9 miles
12 hours
River walking in wilderness setting, difficult route finding.
Fat Man's Misery Checkerboard Mesa East Zion - 4WD Mt. Carmel Jct.
9 miles
12 hours
Short rappels up to 40', difficult down-climbs, route finding, swimming.
Birch Hollow East Zion - North Fork Road. Drive right to the Trailhead. Orderville Canyon to Zion Narrows to Temple of Sinawava
6.2 miles
12 hours
Almost a dozen rappels, the longest is 100' and lots of down-climbing. Dry in Birch but swim in Orderville and possibly the Narrows.
Englestead Hollow East Zion - 4WD North Fork Road Orderville Canyon to Zion Narrows to Temple of Sinawava
8.5 miles
12 hours includes Zion Narrows
Long rappels up to 280', difficult starts, river walking, down-climbing. Dry in Englestead but swim in Orderville and possibly the Narrows.
Spry Canyon Canyon Overlook Parking lot on the east side of the tunnel. Pine Creek Waterfall to the Pine Creek Bridge.
4.3 miles
8 hours
Many challenging rappels with difficult starts, one cold water swim, 95' mostly free hanging rappel finish.
Lodge Canyon
(Mountain of
the Sun)
Canyon Overlook Parking lot on the east side of the tunnel. Zion Canyon near the Zion Lodge
4.3 miles
6 hours
Challenging rope work gives this canyon a more severe rating. Rappels up to 190' with 15' extended anchor.
Ice Box Canyon Kolob Canyons - Lee Pass - Steep, long bushwhacking Kolob Canyons Kolob Arch to Lee Pass
13 miles
16 hours
Physically demanding, long day with route finding. Cold pool swim. Rappels up to 140'
Kolob Canyon Kolob Terrace to Lava Point Kolob Terrace - MIA. Extremely steep uphill hike to Lava Point
10 miles
13 hours
Long day, dozen rappels. Difficult starts, down-climbing, cold water swimming, river walking, route finding, challenging rope work. Wetsuit required.
  Key: [East/South of Canyon Junction off hwy 9] [Cliff-side: Exposed scramble or ledge]
[Slot: Slot Canyon or Narrows] [Boulders: Climbing over boulders or up steep slabs]
[ Scrambling: Hiking/Climbing up or down steep slick rock]
   [Semi-Tech: Rope and climbing skills] [Technical: Advanced climbing or canyoneering]


linkHistory of Canyoneering - Bo has always been an avid outdoors man and living near Zion he spent a lot of time exploring the parts of the park that few others even knew about. I can't imagine a time that Bo is not willing to share beta, carry a rope, swim in ice cold water and explore the unknown.

The first time the term "canyoneering" was probably used to refer to the modern form of exploring canyons was by Steve Allen in a book called "Canyoneering the San Rafael Swell" which he published in 1992.

The people that have been the most vocal about the sport and who have wrote and shared the most beta would probably be Steve Allen, Michael Kelsey, Christopher Brennan, Rich Carlson, Tom Jones, Shane Burrows, Todd Martin and Steve Ramras who is better known as Ram . Through the early years of canyoneering, the men would share their trips in the "Black Book" that is kept at Zion's backcountry desk. You can find most of these guys in all three of the outdoor communities listed below.

Bo and I look forward to having our first book on shelves in the Summer of 2011, and although its on the Zion area it covers mostly hiking but it does have a couple of canyons included.

Utah Canyoneering Forums


Best Western
East Zion Lodge


Zion National Park Lodging

East Zion Lodge
Vacation House
Group Lodging
East Zion Golf
East Zion RV Park
Vacation Packages
Family Reunion
Bus Tours
Business Retreat

Mileage from
Mt. Carmel Jct.

Zion National Park 12
Bryce Canyon 60
Grand Canyon 85
Cedar Breaks 45
Grand Staircase 9
Dixie Forest 22
Sand Dunes 11
Coyote Butte 57
Red Canyon 47
Tuweep 90

Stay in the heart of the parks, Mount Carmel Junction, and visit the treasures of the Southwest and Utah.

Zion Hiking

What is a Slot Canyon?

Slot Canyons in Zion


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I don't know who Tanya is, but I mean
It's a better site than the NPS's anyway."

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