Most people have never heard the term canyoneering. In fact the dictionary doesn’t even recognize the name. So what does it mean? Essentially canyoneering is the art or experience of exploring and traveling through canyons. The similar term of canyoning is used outside the United States to describe this experience.
Canyoneering participants are most often walking, down-climbing (sometimes with ropes) and negotiating technical obstacles in canyons that often contain flowing water or in some cases, remnant pools of rainwater. With these pools and/or waterfalls, there is often also the need to swim.
There are few places in the world that offer a more magnificent canyoneering opportunity than Zion National Park. If fact, look-up canyoneering in Wikipedia and the first photo you’ll see (10-16-09) is one of Mystery Canyon in Zion National Park.
Why is canyoneering in Zion National Park so unique? The answer is that the canyons in Zion are comprised of sandstone that has been stained by oxidizing iron. The many hues of white, ochre and red sandstone provide a colorful experience not found, in such abundance, anywhere else in the world. Mix in the pine trees, scrub-oak and cottonwood trees that cling to the rock crevices and line the canyons, the blue-sky far overhead, and you have an remarkable color palette.
Some canyoneering experiences require many rappels (with ropes), and therefore also necessitate that at least one or two people in the group have strong skills with rappelling. The good news is that Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort offers skilled guides to take you on a canyoneering adventure, so that you won’t need to acquire rappelling knowledge. There are canyons to explore that require just the ability to scramble over or down obstacles or rocks that are 10 to 20 feet high. In these cases, a simple strong rope and some basic skills and agility will suffice.
Zion National Park offers some of the world’s best slot canyons for canyoneering exploration. Places such as The Narrows, The Subway, Orderville Canyon, Mystery Canyon, Englestead Canyon and others offer various levels of adventure and challenge.
In Zion National Park it is often best to start at the top of the canyon and hike down. Zion Ponderosa offers shuttles to pick you up at the end of your canyoneering adventure. You may also choose to enter the Narrows from the bottom and walk up-river as far as you choose and then turn around and come back down. With this method you can leave a car outside the park and return via Zion National Park shuttle (during main season).
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Visit our canyoneering page by clicking here to learn more about the special slot canyon adventures that we offer.