Orderville Canyon

The sport of canyoneering has gained momentum in Utah the past decade as intrepid explorers have been lured into dimly lit passages - caverns recessed into the earths thick crust. These channels form when flowing water detects a weakness in soft rock, then it gnaws away at the stone, creating twisted labyrinths and misshapen formations as it forces a path downward. Fantastic things have resulted - imagine if you can; vaulted cathedrals with towering arches born of sandstone. But it is not just the structural architecture that captivates us, it's also the intrinsic designs. Tiny whimsical waves, curves and whirls are splattered throughout long tunnels, and in many places, layers of hardened sand have been stripped away revealing slashes of color. These are not dark caves, but are fantastic slot canyons where light radiates from above resulting in an eerie incandescence that might just be the most seductive place in all of nature.

Zion Book: Favorite Hikes in and around Zion National ParkAt a Glance
Photo Album:
Orderville Canyon pictures
Trail Map: Orderville Canyon Topo Map
Day Hike:
Distancw: 10-12 miles depending on where you are able to park.
Average Hiking Time: 8 hours
Equipment: Bring water and a means of water purification, high energy food, extra clothing, trekking poles, 50 feet of rope and wear shoes with sticky rubber soles and quick dry clothing.
Sun Exposure: Full Sun in most places.
Technical: short rappels and - or down-climbing.
Trail Usage: 80 permits are given out daily, less use in the cold months of the year.
Permits: 80 permits are given daily. However, if they are all taken, then you can begin at the Temple of Sinawava and travel to the first obstacle within Orderville Canyon without a permit, just as you can explore the lower part of the Zion Narrows without a permit. Call the Visitor Center for permit and weather conditions prior to your trip: 435-772-3256
Rating: 3B III
Difficulty: This is a technical slot canyon. Be prepared to climb down obstacles into cold pools of water and use a rope as a hand-line or be able to use a rappel device to get down short obstacles.  River hiking is required.
Trailhead: East Zion off North Fork Road
Trailend: Temple of Sinawava in Zion Canyon
Trail Access: The dirt road to the trailhead is impassible if wet.
Best Season: mid-June to mid-September when the water is warmer. 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. Slot canyons can change dramatically in a short time due to flash floods and water levels. These directions are only a general reference. Be prepared for variations in the canyon.
Off the Beaten Path: A Zion Classic, but only 50 users are allowed in the canyon daily

Call the Zion Canyon Visitors Center for weather conditions prior to the hike: (435) 772-3256. The Left Fork of North Creek is a slot canyon and like any slot canyon there is 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. Flash flood danger is high.

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
Landmarks in Orderville Canyon

Birch Hollow - 2 miles - left side
Walker Gulch - 2.5 miles - right side
Esplin Gulch - 3.5 miles - right side
Englestead Gulch - 4 miles - left side
Bulloch Gulch - 5.75 miles - right side
Zion Narrows - 7.5 miles
End of Riverside Walk - 9 miles
Temple of Sinawava - 10 miles

Don't under estimate Orderville Canyon
Although this is a semi-technical canyon it's chock full of obstacles, like the one pictured, that require rope skills and - or downclimbing skills. Unprepared hikers end up jumping off many of the obstacles, breaking bones and getting injured. Be smart and go prepared. Don't ever Jump!


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.

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Zion's Orderville Canyon

Kane Country SAR Vice Commander, Dean Kurtz waits on top of the first obstacle in Orderville Canyon and Bo Beck is below.


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.


link to me pleaseDirections - Orderville Canyon is an adventure through a slot canyon, so spectacular that it rivals the grandest of them all - the Zion Narrows. At the start of the route, juniper and pine trees abruptly give way, as hikers drop into a brushy waterway and see their first glance of a waterfall, if it has been a wet year. Rock walls and waterfalls slowly start to populate the stream as towering vertical barricades enclose the canyon. A trip through this slot is not a meager undertaking. Several obstacles requiring competent down climbing skills, and rope work complicate the 10 to12 mile trek. This one-way 'hike' begins outside the eastern boundary of the park and ends at the Temple of Sinawava in Zion Canyon.

Shuttle Setup - Park one car at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and drive another car to the Orderville Canyon Trailhead. To get there go 2.4 miles past the park's east entrance, turning onto North Fork Road. Drive 5.2 miles to the Zion Ponderosa. Continue past the resort where the paved road gives way to a dirt road. The turn-off to the trailhead is 6.2 miles past the Ponderosa or 11.4 miles from Highway 9, on the left side of the road. From this point a 4WD is required even in dry conditions, otherwise park at the gate and walk. Past the gate the road can be washed out, slippery and difficult to navigate. Most 4WD's can go about 2-miles, leaving a half-mile of hiking to get to the riverbed where this route begins.

Orderville Canyon -Walk in the waterway for a little over a half-mile, then follow the beaten path, heading left on top of the ridge, then drop into the canyon. The descent is about 175 feet. If water is flowing, look upstream to see the waterfall. Some canyoneers opt to rappel down this usually dry fall. Just over one mile into the hike, the canyon walls rise and move closer together.

zion National Park CanyoneeringInitial Obstacle - The first obstacle you should run into will be a large boulder. Locate the bolt on the right side and secure your rope. Those with proficient skills can go through the opening in the center of the rock, and then "chimney" when near the bottom. To chimney put your back on one wall and feet on the opposite wall, then work yourself down. Never jump!

Beyond the first obstacle there are several down climbs or short rappels to navigate along the way to the intersection with the Zion Narrows, including the following:

Log ladder - There should be an anchor present for this 15 foot drop. Set up a rappel, hand-line or climb down.

Logs - Logs in the waterway tend to be very slippery, so take care when going down them. Hand-lines or rappels are safer than trying to otherwise navigate them.

Moki-Steps - Experienced climbers can make their way down the steps, but a rope is safer even for climbers, since this area tends to be mossy and slippery. Don't jump!

Optional Bottom Entry - To avoid obstacles, hikers can explore a portion of the canyon from the bottom. A permit is not needed to do this. Take the shuttle to the Temple of Sinawava and take the casual stroll to the end of the Riverside Walk, then hike up stream, turning where Orderville Canyon enters on the right. A posted sign prohibits going farther than the "moki steps.' You don't need a permit to begin at the Temple of Sinawava and travel to the first obstacle within Orderville Canyon, just as you can explore the lower part of the Zion Narrows without a permit.

Hiking in slot canyons presents a danger from flash flooding. Do not enter this or any canyon if it's raining. A storm far off can trigger a flash flood where you are. Be prepared for variations in the canyon since flash floods rearrange obstacles.

zion National Park CanyoneeringGPS Coordinates WGS84 Datum

Turn left off of the North Fork Road
37°20.2231 N
112°49.7777 W

Trailhead: end of the washed out road
37°19.9386 N
112°51.7370 W

First waterfall after dropping into canyon
37°19.5532 N
112°52.1716 W

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

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

Suggested Equipment: A sturdy pair of shoes are recommend to hike a long distance in the Subway. Many quality shoes will help grip the rocks and prevent injury. Experienced hikers and Canyoneers often prefer a good quality rubber shoe like Sportiva Exum Ridge. Other prefer the Aqua Stealth Rubber Shoes or 5-10 Canyoneers but these are not as good for hiking. You might want to try wearing neoprene socks with them for added comfort if they are not already part of the shoe. Canyoneering Rope is required for this semi-technical canyon.


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