We go down canyons. And find out what is there. And have fabulous adventures.We use ropes, often. Our hands and feet, quite a bit. Our shoulders, elbows, hips, thighs, calves, backsides - also quite a bit. Our cleverness, our wit, our fortitude, our sense of humor, our pluck, our desperation, our relationships with one-another, our spirit of adventure - all these at times, we use, on these adventures of the spirit.Wandering around in the desert is a fun game. The rewards when winning are ample, the cost of losing is steep. Like all games, it has rules, both those imposed by the environment and those imposed by us'all so we can just get along. Here are suggestions on how to use this guide to help you stay out of trouble and enjoy canyoneering in Utah and beyond.
Some of the activities described in Tom's Utah Canyoneering Guide are dangerous. The information provided in this guide is accurate to the best of my knowledge, and based on my personal experience. It is no substitute for skill, common sense and good judgement acquired through your own experience. Conditions in the canyons change on a daily basis, and you may find any route to be substantially more difficult than stated. You may get lost. You may fall off something or get flash-flooded. You may pull out anchors that look very solid. Please prepare carefully for all your outdoor adventures, and use caution and judgement at all times.
"It's not really an adventure until something goes wrong." - Yvon ChouinardWe hope you understand that adventure requires some risk. Let's hope your adventures are not TOO adventurous.
There are canyons all over the Colorado Plateau. Each area has its own unique flavor. Here are the main canyoneering regions of Utah:
Cedar Mesa has lots of really great stuff - but not so many technical canyons. Covering the southeast corner of the state of Utah, the mesas and canyons were highly settled by the Anasazi 1500 to 800 years ago, and their ruins and rockart are dispersed across the landscape. Some sites are well known and well-published; some are delightfully obscure. In this guide, we list a few of the
technical canyons that grace the area. Go to Cedar Mesa
Almost heaven, the Escalante is a vast area of fascinating canyons cut into Navajo and Wingate Sandstone, with abundant arches, lush streams, and lovely vistas. It is quite a place, not the least for its vastness and variety. Both single and multiple day adventures are possible, thanks to steady supplies of beautiful water in many canyons. The number of published technical thrash-fests are few; the number of divine, incredible explorations high. Let's keep it this way! Go to Escalante
So you like 'em skinny, eh? Spend some time in North Wash, and you'll get a plentiful dose of skinny canyons. The moves involved in climbing through the bowels of the earth are fun, when you are mentally and physically prepared for the experience. There are fun things to do in a few hours, with or without a rope, and routes that will keep your attention all day. Utah canyoneering at its squeeziest! Go to North Wash
An interesting Utah canyoneering area on many explorers' radars, the Roost has been known and explored by bandits, ranchers and environmental extremists for years. The Roost has a sublime character, wild and resilient. There's something cool about driving to the TOP, descending a narrow, squeezy slot, then popping out into a beautiful, pristine, remote "backpacker" canyon. Go to Robber's Roost
Rugged, desolate, dry, hot, wild. One of those corners of the world
lost to civilization, abused by both a radium boom and a uranium boom,
and recently re-discovered for on-foot and on-ATV recreation. This is
the kind of area that has little appeal to those who are not charmed
by the desert. Oases of human-friendly environments are few and far
between. There are quite a few marvelous desert-wandering-type
adventures, but not so many good technical canyons - but I will list
what I think are the highlights. Go to the Swell
The Mecca of Utah canyoneering. Deep, spectacular canyons and lots of water. It's a good place to hide out when it's stinkin' hot. There are many dramatic and technical routes to challenge the veteran canyoneer, plus a wide selection of more moderate routes that offer more beauty than challenge. Zion is very civilized and accessible. Some official trails are paved, and facilities, rangers and tourists are ubiquitous. Go to Zion