Upper Telephone Canyon |

Zion Main Canyon

Canyoneering Upper Telephone Canyon - Zion Main Canyon Canyoneering Upper Telephone Canyon
Zion Main Canyon

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


TICKS & TODOS: 4 Todo Lists / 4 Ticks
LENGTH: 6-8+ hours
GEAR: Standard Technical Gear
MAPS: Temple of Sinawava, UT;
RAPPELS: 13+ to 46 m ( 151 ft. )
WATER: Generally none.
SEASON: Late spring, summer, fall
Mon Hi:47 Lo:31 Tue Hi:48 Lo:33 Wed Hi:47 Lo:30 Thu Hi:50 Lo:31 Fri Hi:58 Lo:34
View Full Weather Details

Ah, Upper Telephone is one of the canyons I kept putting off doing. The long-ish approach and short nature had led me to believe it wasn't going to be very good. Turns out it is charming and quite beautiful. This is a short canyon with a lot of rappels situated high up on the West Rim. The name comes from back when the telephone line used to be run through this canyon up to the West Rim.

Doing just Upper Telephone is a charming day and will take most groups a pretty decent chunk of time (6-8 hours). Motivated and fast groups can link Upper Telephone with either Behunin Canyon or Refrigerator Canyon to double the bang for the buck. Of the two I would recommend Behunin as the runner-up since it is a bit prettier and more interesting than Refrigerator.

Side Note: I headed up to Telephone solo and ran into a group at the first rappel. They were welcoming and invited me to join them. A big thanks for sharing the day with me, it was a good one!

Getting There

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 (2-3 hours)
How is your cardio? This approach will let you find out.

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.

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, passes the head of Refrigerator Canyon, then descends a bit and contours around Mount Majestic before it starts climbing again. Telephone Canyon is visible on the right here. Follow the West Rim trail as it makes a steep ascent up the slickrock slope to a trail junction on top.

Note: From this trail junction, the West Rim spring is 100 yards down the signed right path. It can dry up, but also can be flowing. This is a good place to try and fill up if you think you will need more water.

Take the signed Telephone Canyon trail on the right. After a few minutes, Telephone Canyon is visible on your right as a shallow canyon. Work down through the scrub oak on game and social trails to the canyon bottom, then down the canyon to the first rappel where the canyon drops quickly.


Note: From the head of the canyon, the rappels come in rapid succession. The number of rappels varies depending on what is downclimbed and what is rappelled, and which rappels are linked. The description below is how our group did it. Be sure when reaching the bottom of a rappel that you check there is an anchor for the next rappel. In some cases, several short drops will be rappelled together.

R1 - 46 m ( 151 ft. ) - The big one of the day. All others come in rapid succession.
R2 - 10 m ( 33 ft. )
R3 - 14 m ( 46 ft. )
R4 - 30 m ( 99 ft. ) - This is a low angle drop over a couple of shorter drops.
R5 - 25 m ( 83 ft. ) - Another low angle slot rappel.
R6 - 30 m ( 99 ft. ) - Big views at this rappel anchor as the canyon opens! Rappel down a vertical wall about 20 m ( 66 ft. ), then an additional 10 m ( 33 ft. ) down a low angle slab.
R7 - 10 m ( 33 ft. )
R8 - 4 m ( 14 ft. ) or downclimb
R9 - 4 m ( 14 ft. )
R10 - 12 m ( 40 ft. ) - two stage.
R11 - 8 m ( 27 ft. )
R12 - 7 m ( 23 ft. )
R13 - 7 m ( 23 ft. )
R14 - 6 m ( 20 ft. )
R15 - 6 m ( 20 ft. )
R16 - 20 m ( 66 ft. ) - Phew! The final rappel is down over two stages from the top of an old landslide. From here the canyon opens.

Continue down the canyon. A few small drops are easily bypassed on the left or right. If you keep an eye out, the West Rim trail is easy to spot when near the base of Mount Majestic. Once close, follow a social trail up to the West Rim trail and return via the West Rim trail.


Printable Maps:

12S 327000mE 4125431mN

N37° 15' 34" W112° 57' 03"

Scouts Lookout

12S 327057mE 4127158mN

N37° 16' 30" W112° 57' 02"


12S 325502mE 4128496mN

N37° 17' 12" W112° 58' 07"

Leave Trail

12S 325414mE 4129125mN

N37° 17' 33" W112° 58' 11"

Rappel 1

12S 325551mE 4129214mN

N37° 17' 36" W112° 58' 05"

West Rim Spring

12S 325518mE 4128569mN

N37° 17' 15" W112° 58' 06"


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