In researching the very fine book The Kolob Tragedy, which everyone should buy and read, well, at least buy, I encountered an interesting rumor that, during the KT lawsuit, the Park had claimed officially that the rappel section of Kolob Creek was not in the Park. If true, this would mean that getting a permit to run Kolob would not be required, as there would be no technical canyoneering inside the Park.
So I went to the Federal Courthouse in Salt Lake City, to look at the file… which was actually archived in Denver, so I paid the $180.00 to have it brought to Salt Lake and came back up two weeks later to look at it. The people at the courthouse went out of their way to accommodate me. Thank you.
What I found was actually the opposite. Maps have shown the Park Boundary following Kolob Creek in this Section (Section 30) and this was incorrect. In the rappel section, both sides of the creek are inside Zion National Park, and the boundary follows the Lot Lines… well, it is complicated – see the map.
The text is very clear. In designating the Park Addition in 1960, Congress specified exactly where the boundary is. The accompanying map shows the true Park boundary in blue. Two more images show two pages from the Solicitor’s opinion of August 8, 1995, which make it clear.
So no. You CAN do Kolob Creek by staying in the watercourse and never using anything on the right wall (difficult, but not impossible), but you would still be technical canyoneering inside the Park.
Tom is the progenitor of Tom's Utah Canyoneering Guide, Utah's premier canyoneering information resource, and Imlay Canyon Gear, America's #1 maker of canyoneering-specific gear. If he's not canyoneering, he's probably snuggled up with a good book.
Posted on Jun 4th, 2018
Accidents, Canyoneering, History, Kolob Canyon, Mistakes, Zion