Rock Canyon |

Zion South Side

Canyoneering Rock Canyon - Zion South Side Canyoneering Rock Canyon
Zion South Side

Overview | Getting There | Route | Photos | Maps | Comments


TICKS & TODOS: 2 Todo Lists / 3 Ticks
LENGTH: 3-4 hours
GEAR: Standard Technical Gear
RAPPELS: 5 to 34 m ( 112 ft. )
WATER: Little or none.
SEASON: Spring or Fall
Tue Hi:75 Lo:41 Wed Hi:80 Lo:43 Thu Hi:83 Lo:47 Fri Hi:82 Lo:46 Sat Hi:79 Lo:46
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If it weren't for the difficulties required to reach the trailhead, Rock Canyon would be one I would recommend much more highly. As it is, the 1+ hour of sand driving will deter all but those with some decent driving skills and a capable 4wd. Having grown up on a steady diet of Dukes of Hazard reruns, I will admit I found the sand sections, banked turns, and whoop de doos a lot of fun!

The canyon is short, and easy access once you get to the trailhead. A few rappels, a riparian section, and a pretty good petroglyph panel make for a winning combination. All rappels are straightforward with easy starts, making it a good beginner route with competent leadership. Reaching the rappel anchor for rappel 3 is slightly tricky, but not really.

Overall, a fun experience a long way from the main park. If driving from Springdale/Zion National Park main entrance, expect 2 or 2 1/2 hours driving time.

A few sand driving tips for the unaccustomed:

  • Visit after recent rains and in cooler times of the year. Spring and fall will often find the sand much more consolidated and firm. A hot July day when it hasn't rained in weeks? The sand will try to swallow your car whole!
  • Lower your tire pressure. If you typically run tires at 30 psi, you can drop them to 20 psi, or even 10 psi and get much better traction. The general recommendation is to not go below 10 psi or you risk tire damage. Reinflate as soon as you get back to the pavement with a cigarette lighter tire pump (or you can ruin your tires running them on firm ground at low pressure).
  • For short deep sand sections, a bit of speed can help carry you through. This is less useful advice for this drive, however, because pretty much the whole road for miles is deep sand.
  • Start and stop slowly to avoid digging in on start or building up a pile of sand in front of the tire when braking that makes it harder to get started again.
  • Stay in existing tracks if there are any, they will be slightly more firm.

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