Water Canyon – Technical Descent – 3B III – Zion National Park, Utah 8-16-15
Canyon stats at a glance:
4.3 miles (0.7 miles technical)
9 Total Rappels, 170 ft max
~10 hrs total time
Weather was hot and the water was ice cold.
I’m not going to go into too much detail on the specifics of our descent down the Water Canyon but figured I would give you guys a short over view of how our day went. I had never done any kind of technical descent in a canyon but when Stav suggested we give it a go I was interested in trying it out. We both have quite a bit of rock climbing experience but for the sake of safety and speed, since neither of us had much canyon experience we hired a guide. This turned out to be a great move because in all honesty we would have had a hard time finding the route on our own.
The canyon itself is not technically located in Zion National park but due to its proximity to the park it is often included with the Zion Canyons. The canyon is located about an hour away right outside of the town of Hildale. The same town that was once home to Warren Jeffs and the FLDS. This was an interesting aspect to our trip that I was not expecting but it was pretty different to pass through such an infamous place that you only ever see on documentaries and Dateline episodes.
Once passing through the town you have to make your way down a very rugged dirt road which requires a 4×4 vehicle to navigate. To drive home this point on the way out at the end of the day there was another vehicle stuck in the middle of the road in the loose dirt. After a short drive you come to a small parking area which is where we left the vehicle and made our way into the canyon.
The canyon itself is very aesthetic and offered great views which only added to the overall experience. We spent the next bit of time making the short 2-3 mile hike up to the top and the start of the canyon. Along the way there are options to cut your hike short and enter the canyon sooner if you wish but on this day we did the entire thing from top to bottom.
I will not go through the whole canyon from rappel to rappel as I’m not sure I could do the description justice with my limited canyoneering experience but I do feel that once you find the start it is very straight forward to follow the rest. You essentially just follow the canyon down the path of least resistance and keep an eye out for rappel anchors along the way.
The canyon is aptly named as you do spend quite a bit of time in the water but the canyon is also fairly sunny so hanging out in the cold water was pretty refreshing at times in the summer heat and is certainly not a down side. It was a fun experience to have to purposely rappel into small ponds which were deep enough to require you to swim across. I also found it funny that in these scenarios with all of your gear on for a split second it is a bit disorienting and I had to remind myself that I knew how to swim.
Once we were into the technical portion of the canyon things went quickly and we safely and efficiently worked our way down. Some of the rappels were more interesting than others but the landscape was always unique and fun which to me made it worth it. I was not sure I would really enjoy canyoneering but the ability to see these pretty unique features in a totally different way was awesome. It added another element of adventure that is lacking in a place like The Narrows. I feel like if I had not done this particular excursion I may have left Zion feeling like I missed something important, I will have to thank Stav for pushing to make it happen! I am excited to get back to Utah soon and tackle even harder slot canyons in the near future.
Stav also did a great job editing together a nice video from our day. I think the video does our trip more justice than my words ever could!