a fine half-day.
Lodge Canyon is a lovely short canyon, notorious for sticking ropes. Facing north, the canyon maintains its cool in summer. Careful rigging of ropes can defeat the demons that grab and stick them. Adding the summit of Mountain of the Sun makes for a meatier day and is a fine scramble.
Lodge Canyon runs north between Mountain of the Sun and Deertrap Mountain, dropping into the main canyon south of Zion Lodge, through the alcove known as Wylie Retreat. It empties onto the road through the employee housing area of Zion Lodge. Over the years, it has accumulated numerous other names, including Employee Canyon, Wylie Canyon and Mountain of the Sun Canyon.
Mountain of the Sun catches the first and last rays of the sun, as seen from Zion Lodge. It used to be one of the Three Brothers, but "left the family" when the Lodge was built in 1925. The other two became the Twin Brothers. Before the Lodge, the Wylie brothers operated a motorcar tour with tent-camp (1917-1925) at the present Lodge location. The waterfall and glen behind the Lodge is Wylie Retreat. The Lodge was originally built and operated by the Union Pacific Railroad as part of their motorcar tour circuit.
KEY BETA: At the end, the canyon does not follow the watercourse, but crosses a buttress on the right to descend a wall with ledges. Continuing down the watercourse requires a rope longer than 300 feet.
GPS: WGS84 12S
Parking Spot/Start: 328257mE 4120556mN
Top of Spry Pass: 327532mE 4121854mN
Bottom of MOS Ramp: 327065mE 4122955mN
4A III ★★★☆☆
Add 3 hrs for Mountain of the Sun
Summer or fall. The canyon faces north and may be doable in dry winters and springs, but would be really nasty with any snow present.
200 feet (60 m)
Zion Wilderness Desk: 435-772-0170
Zion EMERGENCY: 435-772-3322
Helmets, lots of webbing and rings. Consider carrying an extra set of ropes.
COLD WATER PROTECTION
None available, bring plenty
Car spot or short hitchhike required
FLASH FLOOD RISK
Pay careful attention to rigging and extending anchors to avoid stuck ropes.
Some fixed and some natural anchors.
Approach to bottom of ramp: 2 hours
Mountain of the Sun side-trip: 2-1/2 hours
Side-trip to The Cave: 20 minutes
Hike to first rap: 15 minutes
Technical Canyon: 3 hours
Exit Hike: 15 minutes
Lodge starts where upper Pine Creek crosses Highway 9 one third of a mile (500m) east of the main tunnel. There is parking for a few cars here. If needed park closer to the tunnel and hike the road. The FIRST canyon coming from the south, above the parking lot, is Shelf Canyon, and does not lead anywhere useful. Continue past this to the major canyon that runs north with 15 minutes of walking on flat sand. This is upper Pine Creek, while the creek beside the highway is Clear Creek.
Lodge Canyon ends at Wylie Retreat, behind the Zion Lodge. Spot a car there in the off-season, or at Canyon Junction when the shuttles are running.
The approach to the bowl of upper Spry also provides access to Lodge Canyon.
Walk the wide and sandy wash about 15 minutes (1/2 mile, 800m) to where the canyon narrows. Exit the bed of the canyon left up a 4th class slickrock watercourse and climb up and a little right several hundred feet to a bench. Follow the bench north then west into a slickrock bowl below the impressive south buttress of Deertrap Mountain. Zig zag up the center of the bowl (4th class), then up and right to the top of the pass. Keep your eyes peeled for faint petroglyphs on a vertical orange wall a couple hundred feet below the pass.
From the top of the pass, looking west, left to right you see: the big peak of the East Temple; then the upper bowl of Spry Canyon; the Twin Brothers; a notch pass next to Twin Brothers, leading to Lodge Canyon; then a ridge leading up to Deertrap Mountain. From the top of the pass, traverse right and slightly down toward the slot pass and to the head of a narrow slot that cuts across the slope below. Climb into the head of the slot and, pushing through some brush, follow the slot halfway down to the canyon floor. When convenient, exit to the right and descend steep broken slabs to easier terrain. You are now in the upper bowl.
Turn north and climb to the notch pass between Twin Brothers and Deertrap Mountain and drop over the other side. Descend small trails steeply through trees. Near the bottom, climb down the rock on the left rather than dirt on the right. Follow the wooded canyon bottom to an open slickrock area below Mountain of the Sun.
Hike downcanyon about 20 minutes. Bypass the first short slot on the left. At the next slot, zig-zag down ledges to the canyon floor, then cross to the right side and scramble across then down about 50 feet.
R1: 40 feet (13m) from a tied off rock pinch to a ledge.
R2: 50 feet (15m) from a tied off rock. Rig carefully to avoid sticking the rope.
Walk a few feet, then downclimb into a slot.
R3: 130 feet (40m) from a bolt anchor on the right to the edge of a large pool.
R4: 30 feet (10m) from a tied-off pinch on the left.
R5: 40 feet (12m) from a bolt anchor on the right, rap, then traverse to the top of the buttress on the right - NOT down the chute. Walk right (east) to the other side of the buttress.
R6: 200 feet (60m) from a bolt anchor at right side of buttress, rap off the right side of the buttress to a ledge. Watch out for loose rock. Ropes get stuck on this one - extend the anchor as required.
R7: 165 feet (50m) from a bolt anchor beside a waterfall to the ground.
You MUST exit the watercourse part way down rappel 5. The final drop down the watercourse is longer than 300 feet (100m). The descent route is on the other side of the buttress - be SURE to go that way.
This canyon is famous for sticking ropes. There are long slings on a couple of the anchors and they may not be long enough to place the rappel point over the edge. Rig your rappels carefully and test-pull. Carrying an extra rope or two is a good idea in this canyon and might prevent an unplanned bivy.
Loose rock falling on the last rappel station has been responsible for one fatality. Wear a helmet, clip into the belay, and pay attention to what you are doing.
Mountain of the Sun
Overall Rating (MOS and Lodge Canyon): 4A III 5.2
From the open slickrock area in Lodge Canyon, follow a huge, tree-spotted ramp up and left. Then turn right to the MOS—Twin Brothers pass (3rd class). Climb dirty slabs with brush on the right-hand corner of the south face to the base of an orange vertical wall facing Deertrap Mountain. Follow the ledge/gully at the base of the orange wall north (right) several hundred yards (200m) to near its end, where a steep gully allows easy escape up and left. Follow a faint trail up and around to the summit. Pay attention - the trail can be difficult to find on the way down. Enjoy the expansive views. Return the way you came. Allow 2-1/2 hours for the round trip from the canyon floor.
A visit to "the cave" makes a nice, 20-minute sidetrip, especially on a hot day. From the base of the ramp, follow a small slickrock watercourse west, with a little scrambling up and across the north face of Mountain of the Sun. A short hike leads to a cleft deep into the mountainside. Return the way you came.
Follow game trails down and left, past a small waterfall to the main canyon. Find a discrete way to get to the road, then follow the road to the back of Zion Lodge. You are walking through employee housing—please respect the resident's privacy as much as possible.
I first descended Lodge Canyon in August 2000 with Scott Holley. I have done it a few times since.
1999-19 - Zion NP - Falling Fatality – Lodge Canyon:
On Thursday, January 21st, Sasha S., 20, of Springdale, Utah, was killed when she fell 150 feet while climbing (sic) the Mountain of the Sun canyoneering route. S. was climbing with a group of friends and was near the end of the route. She was trying to release a jammed rope from their previous rappel when a rock dislodged, causing her to lose her balance and fall. The remaining members of the group did not have a rope long enough to complete the final rappel. At 6 p.m., an employee of Zion Lodge heard shouting from the cliffs above the lodge and contacted park dispatch. John Hannon, the first ranger to arrive on scene, found S's body. The others in the group tied ropes, a sling, belts and packs together and lowered them to rescuers, who attached a 300-foot rope which they pulled up to them. They then rappelled down. S's body was removed that evening. The five-hour operation was conducted in darkness by 15 park employees from all divisions and three climbers from the local community who train with park staff. (Note: this is the last rappel in Lodge Canyon).