Photo: Joe Braun Photography

I first heard the word canyoneering when the story of Aron Ralston made national headlines in April 2003. You may recall that Ralston was on a canyoneering trip in Blue John Canyon in southeastern Utah when he was trapped by a boulder.


ACA Rating Matrix
Technical – Rating 1 (hiking) to 4 (advanced canyoneering)
Water Flow (Volume and Current) – Rating A (dry) to C (normally holds water with strong current and waterfalls, swimming deep pools. Wetsuit or drysuit may be required, depending on temperature)
Time Required – Rating I (requires a couple of hours to complete) to VI (expected to take two or more days)
For a more detailed rating system go to

So, when I found myself traveling to Zion National Park in May 2006 to go on a 10-day canyoneering trip with friends, you can be sure that Ralston’s story of survival through a 127-hour period was in the back of my mind. Little did I know that the first days we spent in Zion that year would transform me into a diehard fan of the canyoneering way of life. (Ralston’s harrowing story has been made into a major motion picture – 127 Hours.)


Just the drive into Zion National Park is amazing. On the first trip to Zion, we logged more than 65 miles of hiking and canyoneering, and the highlight of the first trip became a staple of subsequent trips.


The stories that follow recount the challenges, fun, and exhilaration of our canyoneering trips to Zion National Park.


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