A Classic Introduction. Rapid-fire rappels, beautiful soaring walls, and constantly changing light and water conditions make Pine Creek a wonderful learning experience for the intermediate canyoneer, or a delightful jaunt on a summer evening for the grizzled veteran.
Pine Creek demonstrates the ever-changing nature of Zion canyons. Full of water from spring runoff or recent thundershowers, it is a freeze-fest requiring thick wet suits or drysuits to prevent hypothermia. After a period of extended drought, it can be completely dry. Be sure to check at the Backcountry Desk for current conditions and, more importantly, believe them when they say you NEED wetsuits.
Pine Creek is divine, though the thunder of traffic in the tunnel kind of cuts into the wilderness experience. The technical section is done by competent small parties in an hour or less, and struggled through by large groups of incompetents in 12 hours or more. Expect to encounter other parties when descending Pine Creek. The light is best near mid-day, so sleep in, slurp coffee -- no need for an early start.
Being adjacent to the road, Pine Creek has a higher daily use quota (50 people) and a higher allowed group size (12) than most canyon in Zion. It DOES "sell out" on summer days, but there is much less of a mad scramble for permits than for other canyons.
First descent of the canyon down the watercourse, as currently done: Dennis Turville and Dean Hanniball, September 21, 1977.