- Canyoneering involves swimming, wading, climbing, rappelling, climbing boulders, steep hikes, bushwhacking and clambering in and out of narrow gorges and slots
- September is a good month for canyoneering as it is not too hot and the rivers are low
- Take a hiking stick to check water depths when wading
- Carry your sleeping bag in a waterproof bag
The rugged rocky terrain in southern Utah is riddled with canyons, gorges and caves which provide an excellent challenge for the adrenalin-pumping activity of canyoneering. This testing sport involves swimming, climbing, rappelling, climbing boulders, bushwhacking and clambering in and out of narrow gorges, slots, cliffs and other rock formations. It may include steep hikes and backcountry camping whilst enduring the elements.
Where to Go Canyoneering
Escalante River Canyon
The Escalante River canyon system with its 400,00 acres of sandstone cliffs, grottoes and slot canyons is the perfect location for canyoneering.
From Harris Wash Trailhead, off Hole-in-the-Rock Road Escalante, following the Escalante River Canyon to Coyote Gulch is 70 miles and will take 10 days to complete, or just do a section of it.
These are some of the main Escalante Slot Canyons:
- Big Horn Canyon - Colorful ravine in a secluded area
- Brimstone Gulch - One of the darkest canyons in the southwest
- Coyote Gulch, Dry Fork - Features a long stream and several narrow passageways
- Davis Gulch - Features a very large natural arch with testing features
- Egypt 3 - Comprises some excellent slot canyons in three sections
- Harris Wash - An interesting slot canyon with classic Navajo sandstone drainage
- Little Death Hollow - A remote location with very narrow, challenging canyons
- Llewellyn Gulch - A hidden canyon worth seeking out. Long but not particularly enclosed
- Neon Canyon - The lengthy Neon Canyon ends at the golden cathedral
- Peek-a-boo Gulch - Lots of erosion with many pools and arches
- Red Breaks - Few visitors find this secluded canyon which is long but not especially enclosed
- Spooky Gulch - A collection of unique rock formations in a claustrophobic canyon
Zion National Park
Zion is a great place in South Utah for canyoneering in the towering sandstone cliffs and gorges of this amazing national park. More challenging trips will include hiking, rapelling, climbing over obstacles and squeezing through narrow passages.
This 9.5 mile hike is through one of the most beautiful slots in Zion. It will involve swimming through several deep pools, short rappels and down climbs. It starts at Wildcat Canyon Trailhead and ends at Left Fork Trailhead.
Orderville Canyon, Zion
A winding slot canyon that is a tributary of the famous Zion Narrows. It requires short rappels and lots of swimming.
Mystery Canyon, Zion
A favorite of technical canyoneers, only 12 climbers per day are allowed access. Canyoneers require two 140' ropes, harness descending equipment, emergency ascending equipment, emergency overnight gear and plenty of water to do this hike.
Pine Creek, Zion
This technical slot involves rappels of up to 100 feet, wading and swimming. It will take 4 hours to complete. Canyoneers require a 60-meter (200 feet) long rope.
Guided Tours and Rentals
Canyoneering is fun even for families with children but beginners are advised to use the services of a local outfitter or tour company and start with a half-day trip. Explore the suppliers, tour companies and shops listed below, who provide equipment and expert guides as part of a tour