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My Experience Canyoneering Kolob Creek

Kolob Creek in Zion National Park is one of the best, and most technical canyons in all of Zion. The canyon itself offers amazing scenery as you traverse down upwards of eight rappels, until you reach the canyon floor. Many of them are done in narrow parts of the canyon and will leave you breathless as you descend down the rope. The final rappel is something else, as you’ll descend down a giant cascading waterfall that you can’t help but allow yourself to get splashed under.

On to the details of the canyon. First and foremost DO NOT do this canyon without a permit, as they let water out of Kolob Reservoir every other week, and if you’re there when they’re letting water out, the water level will rise and make it extremely difficult to traverse the canyon. Likewise do no try this without being with, or you yourself being very experienced, this canyon has claimed a handful of lives that did not need to happen if only people were prepared beforehand.

The Descent

Alright with the warning out of the way…you’ll find this hike off of a dirt road just below Kolob Reservoir that heads due east to Lava Point. There you’ll head lower until you find yourself at the West Rim Zion trail-head. Instead of heading south here you’ll start hiking north and have to bushwhack for a couple of miles until you drop into the canyon. The trail leading to the canyon is not very well marked so be aware of this, and don’t drop into the canyon at the wrong place.

Once you drop into it you’ll do what we did and suit up, wetsuits that is (another warning, this water is very cold, even in July when we did it so wear wetsuits). Here’s where the fun begins, you’ll drop down a couple of smaller rappels until you reach a larger one that will be incredibly exhilarating as you drop down the side of the canyon.

The Jump

Then we reached the rappel of Kolob Creek that you’ve seen the pictures of, and as we looked over the side one of my friends said “we’ve jumped it in the past.” To which I thought “oh hell no, get the rope out!”, as the drop was over 60 ft and you had to jump far enough to clear the rocks, but not far enough to hit the other side, all while ducking so you didn’t hit your head; needless to say I had no intention of cliff jumping that day. As we went back and prepared to get the rope another one of my friends simply said “okay then” and before we knew it had leapt from the ledge! Luckily he made it safe and sound to the bottom, but unlucky for me, I knew I couldn’t be that guy who didn’t jump and made everyone else get the rope out. So one by one we jumped with our backpacks in tow (that’s what we did, but in truth I wouldn’t recommend it, get the rope out!).

After that we got to the point where this picture was taken, as the canyon begins to open up a bit. Here the water flattens out and the slope of the canyon is at a 70 degree decline instead of a 90 degree decline, so as said before you’re dropping down this massive cascading waterfall with the sun shinning through the canyon, and you can’t help but smile with how lucky you are to be there.

After reaching the bottom you’ll put your rope away as there aren’t any other rappels, now you’ll get to walk through a canyon that in reality very few have actually seen. The massive canyon walls will make you strain your neck as you walk through the creek. Before long you’ll be greeted with another waterfall dumping into the canyon that is the Eye of the Needle canyon.

We hiked for about 2 – 3 hours through the canyon until we reached the exit called MIA on the right. Which is just a massive ascent that will test even the very strongest. But once you’ve reached the top and you are gasping for air, you’ll look down at the canyon you’ve just completed and again realize that it was amazing and that you are so lucky to have had the chance to hike it. You’ll realize that in truth only a few thousand people have actually seen what you’ve seen, and been where you’ve been; and that my friends is a wonderful feeling.