Zion is home to incredible hiking trails such as The Narrows and Angels Landing. While exploring this national park is a must-do on any visit to Utah, adventurers should also check out Greater Zion which covers more than 2,400 square miles of towering cliffs, carved canyons and red rocks. Utah’s southwest corner is where you can take canyoneering and rock climbing trips near Zion National Park with the team at Rock Odysseys.
Led by AMGA Certified Single Pitch Instructor Gabby Olsen, Rock Odysseys is proud to be one of the only woman owned and operated guide services in the USA. Her trips include canyoneering, rock climbing, combo options and a kids program called Rock Hoppers. No matter your age or ability, these excursions enable you to have a unique private adventure in the Greater Zion Area with professionally certified instructors and guides.
Nine guides work at Rock Odysseys and each one has a passion for the outdoors, knowledge of ropes and experience working with children. Additionally, they know the geography of Southern Utah like the back of their hands. There are many gems to be found in the region where the Mojave Desert, Great Basin and Colorado Plateau converge – and canyoneering and rock climbing is the best way to discover them all.
Those with an intrepid spirit shouldn’t limit themselves to the 229 square mile Zion National Park when the wider area expands 10 fold. Plan a road trip, sleep under the stars in luxury glamping tents, venture on hikes that are off-the-beaten-track and not spoiled by Instagram location tags, and book trips with Rock Odysseys to take your adventures to new heights. A Greater Zion vacation can be whatever you make it out to be.
Best Canyoneering & Rock Climbing Experiences Near Zion
Canyoneering is where you rappel and climb down into slot canyons that are typically inaccessible by hiking. A guided canyoneering trip with Rock Odysseys transports you to the otherworldly landscapes of Utah in the safest way possible. Each tour can be tailored to suit the skill level of your group, so you won’t be pressured into doing anything you aren’t ready for. Although, the more you push yourself out of your comfort zone the better.
Depending on where you are staying, the starting point will either be a pick-up spot at your accommodation or a meeting location near the recreation site. If you have booked a lodging in Hurricane, Springdale, Rockville, Virgin or La Verkin then Rock Odysseys can collect you along the way. Much of the day is spent teaching your group how to rappel, climb and navigate the canyons, and of course all the gear is provided for.
One advantage of going canyoneering or rock climbing just outside of Zion National Park is that the usual crowds of tourists are nowhere to be seen. This means that your group can traverse the canyons in a slow and steady fashion, without having to worry about other people impeding on the experience. Utah is blessed with countless slot canyons and there is plenty of space for everyone to enjoy their own little slice of Greater Zion paradise.
Half Day Canyoneering Trip
Rock Odysseys have four options when it comes to canyoneering. They are the Half-Day Canyoneering Trip, Full Day Canyoneering Trip, Ultimate Canyoneering Day and Off Road + Canyon. The Half Day Canyoneering Trip is perfect for beginners who would like a leisurely hike plus the thrill of three to six rappels. The four to five hour duration isn’t strenuous and would suit couples or families looking for a little bit of adventure on their holiday.
Lamb’s Knoll and Diana’s Throne are the preferred spots for this activity. Lamb’s Knoll is situated on Kolob Terrace Road just outside the park boundaries. The orange and red sandstone rocks here act as a playground for adventurers with a low intensity, high thrill set of rappels and climbs to be experienced. The 60 to 100 feet rappels can be done by anyone, as long as you are in reasonably good shape and bring a can-do attitude.
Part of the enjoyment at Lamb’s Knoll is the hiking at the start which opens you up to Zion’s mid-section. Only a handful of people ever see this remote area. Diana’s Throne, on the other hand, is on the east side of the park and is characterized by well sculpted and intensely colorful passages. This small slot canyon has many different rappels and they range from 15 to 60 feet – so it’s a superb place for first time canyoneers to give the sport a go.
Full Day Canyoneering Trip
The Full Day Canyoneering Trip takes guests to more remote areas of Greater Zion with longer hiking, rappelling and climbing times. Spanning a full day of seven to eight hours, this trip is ideal for those who don’t consider themselves pure beginners and want a more extreme experience. Water Canyon, Birch Hollow and Lamb’s Knoll are the main slots on this adventure – with Water Canyon being the favorite with Rock Odysseys.
Water Canyon offers a little bit of everything. It has exhilarating rappels (some over 150 feet), fantastic hiking, natural pools and narrow slots. While there are an estimated 10+ rappels that you could do at Water Canyon, with Rock Odysseys you will focus on the best six to nine. Your group can choose whether to get wet or stay dry – but it’s always more fun to get in the water. Birch Hollow is another alternative for small groups with a 4WD.
Ultimate Canyoneering Day Trip
Up to 10 hours is the duration of this extraordinary day adventure in Southern Utah, one that you won’t be forgetting in a hurry. It can take up to two hours of vigorous hiking to reach your destination of either Water Canyon or Birch Hollow but the rewards are massive. At Water Canyon, you will be wading/swimming through water and taking on a 165 foot beast of a rappel which is located on a side tributary feeding into the canyon.
Birch Hollow lies by the eastern boundary of Zion and is a great choice for the Ultimate Canyoneering Day. The fluted rappels, striking descents and twisting passages that compose the side canyon of the Orderville Canyon (Birch Hollow) makes it unique. As many as 12 rappels can be completed, so you will need a good night’s sleep before you go. Decent walking shoes are a must and a change of clothes in the likely event that you get wet.
Off Road + Canyon Trip
The Off Road + Canyon odyssey guides you to Rock Canyon, which is right by the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. If you thought the crowds were small in the surroundings of Zion then you will be even more taken aback by the lack of human presence at Rock Canyon. The trip kicks off with an off road drive before reaching the canyon. Once here you will be rappelling on five to seven occasions, wading/swimming through pools and seeing petroglyphs.
Conditional at the time of year you go, water can be flowing in the canyon – making the experience more fun. The driving distance adds extra time to the Off Road + Canyon trip. Hence, a maximum of 10 hours needs to be set aside for the day. Keep in mind that hotel pick-up isn’t offered on this excursion. A meeting point needs to be arranged with Rock Odysseys prior – either at the Jem Trailhead or at the Elephant Cove off road parking area.
Rock Climbing Trips
Rock Climbing is just as exciting as canyoneering in Zion and Rock Odysseys is, once again, the best operator for this activity. Whether this is your first attempt at rock climbing or your fiftieth, no other destination competes with Southern Utah for scaling rock walls. Climb to heights that you feel comfortable with and get climbing tips from the experts at Rock Odysseys. Safety is their priority – they will be guiding you the entire way.
Like the canyoneering trips, you can get picked up at your accommodation or meet near the site. The only thing you need to bring is food, water, a bag, and appropriate clothes and shoes. Everything else will be provided such as helmets, harnesses, climbing shoes and belays. The guides are all Wilderness First Responder Certified and have extensive knowledge to set you up on the ropes, teach you how to belay and coach you on climbing.
After a few practice runs, you will gain the confidence to go alone. Rock climbing is a physically and mentally beneficial exercise. You need to plan each course before taking the next step. The more you practice, the quicker your thinking becomes. Surveying the rock wall, and determining which holes to plant your hands and feet into, is a challenging yet rewarding experience. Below are the rock climbing trips that Rock Odysseys offers.
Half Day Rock Climbing Trip
The Half Day Rock Climbing Trip is an unforgettable four to five hours spent in the fresh air of Southern Utah. Rock Odysseys can cater it to beginner, intermediate or advanced climbers – depending on your skill level. Climbing meccas like Grapevine Wall, Prophecy Wall, Lamb’s Knoll or Virgin take you to heights between 30 and 100 feet – with three to five different single-pitch climbs to be knocked off before returning back home.
Full Day Rock Climbing Trip
The same destinations are on offer on the Full Day Rock Climbing Trip but this time you get up to eight hours to scale the walls and admire the views from the top. A full day gives beginners the chance to drastically improve their skills and by the end of it they will leave as confident climbers. Feeling the sandstone, limestone and basalt on your hands, sunshine on your face and fresh air filling your lungs will revitalize both your body and mind.
Multipitch Rock Climbing Trip
Rock Odysseys have put together the ultimate expedition for intermediate to advanced climbers in the Greater Zion Area – the Multipitch Rock Climbing Trip. Routes up Prophecy Wall or Lamb’s Knoll will be tackled and there will be two to five different pitches to finish. Some of the walls are 500 feet high with immense views on offer once you make it to the top. Those with little rappelling experience should opt for the half-day or full day trip.
Combo Trips & Rock Hoppers Program for Kids
In addition to canyoneering or rock climbing, Rock Odysseys do combos where you can get the best of both worlds. Groups of four or less will love the Half Day Combination Trip as it gives each person enough time for two activities. For larger groups, the Full Day Combination Trip is the way to go. There is also a kids program called Rock Hoppers which enables kids 12 years and under to experience the thrill of rappelling and rock climbing.
Final Thoughts on Canyoneering & Rock Climbing in Greater Zion
God clearly had canyoneering and rock climbing in mind when creating Zion National Park and its surroundings. There is simply no better way to get up close and personal with this landscape than on a trip with Rock Odysseys. Their highly skilled guides have a passion that is contagious – you won’t be able to stop at one rappel or climb. This energy is mixed with kindness, helping you put your fears at ease and embrace the adventure.
Rocky Odysseys hires career guides whose expertise builds year after year. They are trained in first aid and rock-rescue, so you can be assured that you are in good hands. Whichever sport you gravitate to – be it rappelling into narrow slot canyons and waterways or climbing up rocky walls that reach up into the sky – the sense of wonderment and awe felt on each trip is indescribable. Words can’t illustrate how spectacular Southern Utah is!