Zion National Park is a hot destination in the Southwest corner of Utah full of hiking trails and adventures. But if you want to get away from the crowds and experience more of Utah’s slot canyons, I’d highly recommend booking a Utah Canyoneering tour!
Canyoneering has been on my bucket list for, well, ever. Once my friend Jayme, known as adventureandthegirl, and I planned our trip to Zion National Park I knew that it was time to finally cross canyoneering off my bucket list.
Now, I’m addicted.
So much that I went canyoneering again 6 months later!
Now I can’t wait to share with you all about my experience and hopefully convince you to try it out for yourself. But first, let’s define the sport.
What is Canyoneering?
It is hard to define canyoneering in just a few short words, because it really is a bundle of many activities. Essentially it is the exploration of a canyon from point A to point B involving anything from hiking, scrambling, repelling, bridging, chimneying, all the way to rafting and waterfall jumping if you want to get crazy.
Instead of climbing elevation like many rock climbers or hikers, you’re actually starting from the top of a canyon and exploring down into it.
You may find yourself wedged tightly between two walls and configuring your body in ways you didn’t know you could. But don’t worry, it isn’t that scary!
Here are some benefits of canyoneering:
- Builds confidence
- You learn new techniques
- You may overcome fears
- Helps build trust and friendships within your group
- Can relieve stress
- Can burn calories, build muscle, and be a great workout!
Disclaimer: Please do not attempt canyoneering on your own unless you are trained and experienced. Canyons are always changing, certain gear is required, and it is NOT something you can just jump into on your own.
Book Your Utah Canyoneering Tour
Is your adrenaline already kicking? Good. Because I have a wonderful company who can help you- East Zion Adventures.
I could not have asked for a better experience and I owe it all to my guide David and the company I booked with. The company provides the essentials for you- ropes, harness, and hard hat. Your guide will have the knowledge of tying the ropes, securing your harnesses, techniques required, and train you as you explore the canyon.
It doesn’t matter if this is your first or third time canyoneering, they will make sure you are fully equipped and safe while having the time of your life!
Half Day vs. Full Day Tour
When booking there are two options- half or full day. If you are brand new to canyoneering, and especially if you are weary of heights, I’d suggest choosing the half day tour to start.
The half day tour is about 4-5 hours depending on the size of your group whereas the full day tour is 6-8 hours. Both tours have several repels but the full day will have larger repels and require more overall skills to traverse the canyon.
My suggestion would be to start with a half day tour if you are brand new and only choose the full day if you’ve done repelling before or are just a complete adventure enthusiast not afraid of anything!
Tip: If you’re still hesitant about canyoneering, the company also does Jeep Tours, Hiking Tours, and Horseback Riding!
What is included?
East Zion Adventures provides the transportation to and from the canyon. If you’re staying at the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort (their sister company) you’ll meet them at the Recreation Barn and leave from the resort.
If you are staying elsewhere around Zion National Park you can set a time and place to meet the guide and hop in the vehicle with them. Usually this takes place at a nearby gas station or a destination in Springdale.
Your guide will have all of the necessary rope, harnesses, and helmets for your adventure.
Preparing for Your Utah Canyoneering Tour
When planning your trip you’ll want to book your tour ahead of time since they cannot guarantee availability once you’re there, especially during the peak seasons.
Before you embark on your tour, I’d suggest calling ahead to ask if they are expecting water in the canyon. It can happen, and you’ll want to be prepared. They offer waterproof socks and shoes for a $15 rental!
You are responsible for all other supplies including water and snacks! If you adventure during the summer it will be hot, but I still suggest wearing long pants to protect your legs from the rock. Your pants should allow you to perform all the techniques, so I wore leggings.
If you visit during the cooler months you’ll want to layer up! It does get cooler down in the canyon especially since you’ll be out of the sun in some spots.
As far as shoes go, you’ll want some that allow support, grip, and flexibility. I would not recommend the typical tennis shoes, but good quality hiking shoes at the least. Unless you plan on doing a lot of canyoneering, actual canyoneering shoes are not needed.
Below is a list of everything I brought with me. Some say I am an over-packer, and some say I am prepared.
The Tour Experience
Jayme and I booked a half day Utah canyoneering tour because we were only there for a couple days and wanted to leave time for a hike afterwards. We met our guide, David, at the recreation barn on the resort at 9 a.m. to begin!
We had a small group- a very sweet couple who we later became friends with (I told you this experience will bond you with the others!)- so we had a total of only 5.
David drove us to the trailhead and together we hiked to the entry point of the Huntress Canyon we were exploring that day. Along the way David filled us with knowledge of local plants and their survival benefits- he was full of useful facts.
The hike to the entry point was short- I believe the entire tour totaled 3 miles. We geared up by putting on our harnesses and helmets, then David made sure we were all secure.
It wasn’t long until we had to learn the techniques of bridging and chimneying which was surprisingly exciting and not too difficult. Sooner than we knew we hiked up on our first repel!
David did all of the rope tying and taught us how to hold the rope to repel ourselves down. His guidance gave me the confidence to go first and what a rush it was!
The first two repels were the perfect size to lead up to our biggest repel of 75 feet. Not going to lie, my nerves were definitely present on this one, but David was at the top talking me through every step.
Not only that, my small but supportive group were cheering me on during every repel. I could not have asked for a better group for my first Utah canyoneering experience!
Once we got through the canyon we had another short hike back to the trailhead where we started. We arrived back at the resort around 3 p.m. as expected and I left feeling accomplished and wanting to plan my next canyoneering adventure!
Final thoughts on my Utah Canyoneering Tour
I’ve gone canyoneering with East Zion Adventures twice now and joined in on some of their other tours. They are a wonderful adventure company that truly enhances your experiences in the southwest!
Canyoneering has easily become on of my new obsessions. Traversing tight slot canyons and repelling down giant walls brings a whole new meaning to outdoor adventure. The half day tour was the perfect starting point in learning the ropes and getting comfortable with repelling. Now I’m ready for a more challenging canyon!