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Refrigerator Canyon is very tough to recommend. The canyon is split by the Angel's Landing trail into an Upper Section and a Lower Section.
The upper section tends to be steep, brushy and has two short rappels. Just when you are about to reach the Angel's Landing trail, the toilet paper piles come into view. Yuck! Apparently, hikers often step off the trail and do their daily business here. Very gross. If I haven't dissuaded you from doing the upper section, I would recommend bringing disposable gloves and a garbage bag to help clean up the area.
The lower section, below the Angel's Landing trail, is more interesting but very short. I would recommend this as an evening romp. (but would not HIGHLY recommend it). The final rappel stance for the lower section is small, 3 people will be crowded! I would recommend a small group size for this one.
As a side note: Refrigerator Canyon makes a nice descent route after doing Telephone Canyon. For an exit canyon, I would recommend it, and that is how I did the canyon. Sadly, my camera died partway down the upper section, so my pictures are all of the less interesting upper section.
The trailhead is the Grotto Shuttle stop in the main Zion canyon. During summer months, the Zion shuttle is the only way to access the trailhead.
Approach (45 for lower, 60-90 minutes for upper)
From the trailhead cross the bridge over the Virgin River, and turn right toward the signed Scout Lookout/Angels Landing. The trail begins climbing and makes a few switchbacks before entering Refrigerator Canyon. The cool shade of Refrigerator Canyon is a great respite from the heat in the summer. If doing Lower Refrigerator only, stop at the bridge crossing over Refrigerator Canyon and head down Refrigerator Canyon from there.
Continue along the Angel's Landing/West Rim trail. A few minute up Refrigerator Canyon, the trail begins climbing again up the right side, soon entering Walter's Wiggles. The Wiggles are a unique section of 21 switchbacks. Zig-Zag up them, reaching Scout Lookout. There is a toilet available at Scout Lookout, but no water.
Continue left on the West Rim trail. It climbs a bit more and passes the head of Refrigerator Canyon at a slickrock section. This is very obvious, and the canyon starts as a narrow-ish steep dirt and brushy chute.
Descent - Upper Section
Head down the steep dirt and brush gully. It is generally easy to meander down, with a lot of old debris (presumably from the West Rim Trail construction). Numerous short drops in here are easy to downclimb if you look around. The canyon narrows at the obvious first rappel.
R 1 - About 10 m ( 33 ft. )
Just down from rappel 1, a large boulder splits the watercourse at the second rappel.
R2 - 13 m ( 43 ft. ) - Walk a precarious slope on the right to a tree and anchor for the second rappel. This is easy enough, but do watch your step.
Below the second rappel the canyon continues to drop steeply before leveling out. There are no major obstacles to the bridge over Refrigerator and start of the lower section.
Descent - Lower Section
Walk under the bridge and head down canyon. A few downclimbs quickly present themselves. Beginners may want a rope.
Rappel 1 - 10 m ( 33 ft. ) to an avoidable pool.
Rappel 2 - 35 m ( 115 ft. ) to a small ledge and the anchor for rappel 3.
Rappel 3 - 58 m ( 191 ft. ), with the last section being free hanging.
From the bottom of the last rappel, work down the stream course. Once through the boulders that make up this section, look for an open area on the right. Follow a path to it, continuing across the open area, two small drainages, and onto the West Rim trail.
12S 327003mE 4125438mN
N37° 15' 34" W112° 57' 03"
12S 327057mE 4127158mN
N37° 16' 30" W112° 57' 02"
|Refrigerator Canyon Head||
12S 326823mE 4128038mN
N37° 16' 58" W112° 57' 13"