Telephone Canyon starts out as a drainage atop the West Rim, then drops steeply to the bench level 1000 feet lower, wanders across the bench with some slotting, then drops suddenly into the Narrows in a dramatic, 900 foot drop. This technical route is the 1000 feet from the West Rim to the bench. Being at the top of the Navajo Sandstone, the drainage above runs with dissolved limestone which gets deposited on the rock in the canyon, making many of the downclimbs very slippery. Exercise caution.

Telephone is named for the telephone line that used to run from Cabin Spring (West Rim Spring) to the Temple of Sinawava through this canyon.

WGS84 UTM 12S Waypoints

Head of Canyon: 325548 mE - 4129167mN


Canyon Profile


3A III ★★★☆☆

6 to 10 hours


Spring, summer, or fall

155 feet (48 m)

General rappelling and downclimbing skills.


Helmets, rappelling gear, webbing and rapid links.


None. Bring Plenty.

Moderate – There are only a few sections of sustained narrows.

Begins and ends at Grotto Trailhead.


Getting there

Start and end at the Grotto Shuttle Stop. Chug up the Angels Landing Trail to the top of Scout Lookout. Continue chugging all the way to West Rim Spring. A small spring provided filterable water. Take the "Telephone Canyon" branch of the West Rim Trail (rather than the “Rim trail”) and hike about 1/2 mile north, passing a shallow drainage. Past there, the undergrowth opens up, and the head of the canyon can be seen down and right. Hike down the hillside Follow the rim left to the canyon, or the stream right to the head of the drop.


The Business

This canyon is a “dropper”, packing 13 mostly short rappels into a short lateral distance. Be prepared to re-rig a bunch of anchors, because they seem to need it a lot in this canyon. The canyon twists and turns, and several rappels have a second drop which may be out of sight from the top. Don’t pull your rope until you have explored ahead.

A fire in 2007 burned off the trees we used to use for the first anchor. There might be several different objects slung with webbing, but my new favorite anchor for the first rap is a big flat rock right where the water goes over the edge. Carefully inspect the webbing, and replace if necessary. (If you anchor somewhere else, the rappel might be longer than 155 feet).

R1: 155 feet (48m) down the watercourse, avoiding a pothole at the bottom.
R2: 25 feet (7m) from a jammed stone. Might be easier to combine with R1 if you have the rope.
R3: 60 feet (18m) from a two-bolt anchor.
R4: 70 feet (22m) in two stages: 40 feet from a two-bolt anchor, then another 30 feet down a slippery chute.
DC/HL5: set a handline off a jammed stump, and slither down the V-slot. Young, unbreakable men will enjoy doing this without the handline.
R6: 80 feet (25m) down a steep wall off a two-bolt anchor. This anchor is often rigged short making the pull difficult. Can pull from directly below, but many will want to continue down the steep slope beyond.
R7 – R12: numerous 20-30 foot rappels off logs, rocks and the occasional bolt anchor.
R13: 60 feet (18m) off two bolts high off the ground. The rockpile collapsed after the bolts were placed. The webbing is difficult to inspect well and replace – but do it anyway!

After a steep rappel (R13) into an area of recent rockfall, follow a game trail right across a steep wooded slope to exit onto the slickrock to the side of the canyon. Traverse slickrock to regain the West Rim Trail.


The Exit

Turn left and hike down the West Rim Trail back to the Grotto, or; turn right and hike up to Behunin Pass and descend Behunin back to the main canyon.


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