Canyoneering Route Description

Behunin Canyon - 3B III
Zion National Park, Utah.

Quick Facts

05-17-09, 5 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 12 hours) Pictures Icon
09-12-10, 4 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 11.75 hours) Pictures Icon
08-04-12, 4 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 9.25 hours)
12-25-22, 6 people, 1 Day (travel time in route 10 hours)

Time Required - 10 to 12 hours
Distance -  6.8 miles Total, 2.2 miles Technical
Rappels -  9 Rappels, Longest Rappel 170 feet.
Elevation Range - 4280 - 6300 Feet
Shuttle Required -No  Vehicle - Passenger Permit Required - Yes

Gear Used for Canyon

Rappelling and anchor gear, two 200 foot ropes, 200 foot pull cord (just in case), 70 feet of 1” webbing for sling placement.  Wet suits may not be needed during warmer months or when the canyon is mostly dry but they are definitely recommended in cooler months.

General Comments

Behunin Canyon in my opinion ranks high on the must do list.  It is a fun route and from start to finish just looks amazingly scenic!  It does not get a deep, tight twisted, pothole feel that some have come to expect from Zion canyons but is still deep and narrow in places.  One my favorite sections involves a very long walk (about 0.3 miles) down a narrow corridor like section with a flat sandy bottom.  One of the rappels at the end does require some extra care as it is awkward to get to and on a sloped rock surface.  

 The canyon can hold a fair amount of water.  If there have been recent rains filling the canyon or better yet you are lucky enough to do it under flowing conditions you may want to consider a wet suit, especially if doing it in one of the cooler months.

I can not place exactly why, but Behunin is one of my favorites.

Driving Directions

To get to the Trailhead

Park your vehicle at the Zion visitor center.  From there take the shuttle to the Grotto stop to begin the route.

To leave the Exit Vehicle / Escape Pod

There is no need to leave an exit vehicle.  The Zion Shuttle will bring you right back to the visitor center.


GPS coordinate information listed at the bottom.  For information about waypoint naming and map symbols, refer to the Glossary page.

Map Link Icon
Click the links for maps of the route.
Map of the entire route.


The Approach:
After getting off the shuttle at the Grotto stop (wGrottoBusStp), walk across the road and start down the trail to Angel’s Landing.  The trail starts out flat and easy for a while but soon starts to climb switchbacks as it climbs to Refrigerator Canyon.  Continue on the trail through Refrigerator Canyon.  Next will be a series of 21 short but steep switch backs called Walter’s Wiggles (sWaltrsWiglsTp).  A short distance after getting to the top of Walter’s Wiggles you will come to Scout’s Lookout which is about 2.1 miles from the trailhead.  From Scout’s Lookout follow the signs pointing to the West Rim Trail (not Angel’s Landing).  

As you continue up the West Rim Trail you will come to a section of slick rock where it would be easy to lose the trail.  A few sign posts along the slick rock with a boot print on them have been placed to mark the way over to the continuation of the trail.  After crossing the trail-less slick rock area, the trail will begin to descend again.  About 1.2 miles after Scouts Lookout the trail will have a bridge (cWstRmBridge) that crosses a stream.  

As you continue on from the bridge the trail will slowly begin to climb again through wide open spaces with lots of views to take in.  About 0.75 miles after crossing the bridge the trail will begin to get steeper as it starts into an area with more vegetation (some of which had recently burned in a fire).  The trail will no longer be in a wide open area but will have walls on both sides.   

The trail will start up a series of gentle switch backs with an overall direction of southwest.  About 1 mile after crossing the bridge is where the switch backs will top out at an area kind of like a saddle.  At this saddle the trail will turn from an overall direction of southwest and start up northeast.  This is where you will leave the trail (yBehuninTp).  You will not be going up the trail to the northeast.  Look over the saddle to the southwest to see into Behunin Canyon.

The Canyon / Technical Section:
From the saddle where you leave the main trail (yBehuninTp), follow a use trail down the slope and to the right (west or northwest).  This use trail will work down the slope toward the canyon floor at the top of Behunin Canyon.  

The tall vertical wall at the head of the canyon is impressive as you get closer to its base.  Once on the canyon floor follow down canyon along intermittent paths.  In this upper part of the canyon it is usually easier to travel up on the left (south) side of the bank and out of the main water course.  When traveling in the water course and find an obstacle like a water filled pothole or a tricky down climb, look around.  There are lots of ways around these, usually up and over to the left.  

Depending on the amount of water in the canyon there may be some pools of water to get across.  Most are not very deep.  One we crossed was about waist high and might be a short swim if there were more water.  From the looks of things the depth might make it to about 6 feet for a short distance if full.  

About 0.4 miles from leaving the West Rim Trail is a pool of water with a drop before it (wBehuninRP-1).  There is no easy way to down climb into the pool since it has a bad overhang.  Climb up and over LDC (east) to get up to a bypass use trail that will take you a couple hundred feet down canyon before dropping back in.  

Continuing down canyon are a few more spots of heavy vegetation or small pools to bypass and some easy down climbs.  About 0.9 miles after leaving the West Rim Trail, the canyon turns sharply to the left (east). 

A few hundred feet beyond the left turn is a big drop in the water course where Rap 1 is (dBehuninR1-2).  Rap 1 is from a set of bolted chains RDC (right down canyon).  To get to the anchors stay high and walk along a narrow ledge RDC.  It will feel like there is nothing out there, but keep going.  You will eventually find the bolted chains about chest high as you get near the end of the ledge.  Take your time as this ledge has a few very narrow spots.  Rap 1 drops down a short vertical section to a ledge then continues down another wall that is slightly sloped with an overall drop of about 100 feet.  

We did notice some slings on trees LDC of the drop off for rap 1.  Getting over to the trees would offer a longer rappel but the traverse over to them is a bit exposed and might be risky as compared to the bolted chains RDC.  

Rap 2 is near the bottom of rap 2 and is anchored from a pine tree RDC.  The pine is on a sloped portion of rock.  One of the roots from the tree is growing along the top of the rock and provides an assist for your footing on the way over to the tree.  Rap 2 drops down a sloped wall about 100 feet.  

At the bottom of rap 2, the rock slopes off fairly steep.  To get to rap 3 walk down the steep slope to a pine tree at the top of another drop.  When walking down the slope remember the water course may be slippery.  We found it best to walk significantly RDC of the water course where it is not quite as steep.  As you get closer to the bottom of the slope you can than follow a more level ledge over to the tree.  

Rap 3 (dBehuninR3-4) is anchored from the tree at the bottom of the slope from rap 2.  Rap 3 drops a total of about 160 feet down a vertical wall with a few ledges along the way.  Rap 3 drops into a pool about ankle deep.  

Rap 4 is anchored from bolted chains on the other side of the small pool at the bottom of rap 3.  Rap 4 drops about 110 feet with a few ledges along the way.  Since Rap 4 is over 100 feet a single 200 foot rope would not reach.  Rather than use two ropes we sent everyone down single strand.  Before the last person went down we tied a length of webbing to the end of the pull side of the rope.  After the last person, pull the rope, untie the webbing and you’re done.   

At the bottom of rap 4 is the canyon floor with a nice long flat sandy bottom.  If you would like to catch a quick break with some cooler air go up canyon a hundred feet or so to a narrow slot like area.  It is cooler there.  

Down canyon from rap 4 is easy walking along a sandy bottom which soon becomes rolling slick rock.  About 700 feet down canyon from rap 4 is a large alcove elevated above the canyon floor (wBehuninRP-2).  It is an easy scramble up to it.  The alcove has a big sandy bottom which makes a good rest spot.  We took a lunch break here although not everyone liked the idea of sitting in the sand.  This would make a soft place to sleep if camping.  

Rap 5 (dBehuninR5) is about 500 feet down canyon of the alcove.  Rap 5 is anchored from a set of bolted chains RDC.  To get to the anchors walk down a rock slope to the right of an obvious drop in the canyon on your left.  The anchors are at foot level on the rock you are walking on.  The bolts feel secure in the rock but the hangers on them are very loose.  Rap 5 drops about 75 feet to a sandy canyon floor.  It starts out flat and rolls off to a vertical wall.  

At first glance it seems someone did not tighten the nuts on the anchors enough.  On closer inspection it appears the hangars have been pulled up and down repeatedly as people have got on rappel.  This constant wiggle has eroded the sandstone away under the hanger.  The nuts were froze in place on the hangers and not able to be tightened.   

I think the placement of the anchors has caused the wear and tear.  They are positioned so that the most natural way to rig onto this rappel is by standing close it with the anchors at foot level causing those not being careful to pull up on the anchor rather than along the rock surface.  

We did use these anchors but provided a back up for all but the last person down.  These anchors are in bad need of replacement.  If these anchors are used, a backup should be provided and each person should take as much care as possible to scoot down the rock and not stand up causing an upward pull on the anchor.  

Another option for rap 5 would be to rap into the head of the drop off.  Walk back up to the head of the drop off and look for a large tree that would make a good anchor.  It would require some down climbing to get to the tree.  

At the bottom of rap 5 is the start of a long narrow corridor.  The walls are close and pretty high and the bottom is soft white sand.  The cool thing about this corridor is that it is about 0.3 miles and almost completely straight the entire length!  Soft sand in a straight narrow corridor for that far feels like walking down part of the biggest natural maze in the world.   At the end of this long corridor the canyon makes a brief jog to the left (east).   

If you continue straight instead of going left at the jog in the canyon, you can take a short side trip up another small slot just for fun.  If you go to the end of the slot and scramble up on the slope to the left (east) there is webbing tied to a tree that looks like it had not been used in a while and was maybe part of a different route down the canyon.  

Ok back to the route, turn left (east) at the end of the long corridor.  About 50 feet ahead will be a log lying horizontal next to a big drop.  There is webbing tied to the log for an anchor.  That is the first option for rap 6 (rap6a).   

Rap 6a (dBehuninR6) is from the log and drops down about 60 feet to a large pool.  Dropping in at rap 6a would put you deep enough into the pool where you would need to swim.  

Rap 6b is the second option for rap 6.  When you see the log for rap 6a look to the right (south) and notice a lot of small trees and bushes along the canyon wall.  There is a use trail through this area about 50 feet or so to tree with webbing on it.  That is the anchor for Rap 6b.  Rap 6b drops about 50 feet to the same pool.  In high water conditions this pool will be a swimmer rather using rap 6a or 6b.  Under lower water conditions, the spot you drop to in the pool is less than waist deep.  The first person will get a little wet and then be able to pull the rest of the people over to dry ground as they get to the bottom of the rap.  

At the bottom of Rap 6 is a sandy bottomed wash leading down canyon (south) from the pool.  Looking north across the pool is a long straight canyon leading north that parallels the portion of Behunin you have been descending thus far.  I plan to take a side trip up that canyon on a future trip to see what it’s like up there.  I will add a side note to this in the event I do that.  

If you like listening to canyon frogs you might enjoy taking a few minutes to sit by the pool and keep quiet.  The frogs here can get pretty loud.  It’s a nice touch I think.  

Down canyon from rap 6 is more, easy walking in nice soft sand.  There is another corridor to walk but not nearly as long or tall as the one earlier.  About 0.2 miles down canyon of rap 6 is a small pool with some log debris piled in it (wBehuninRP-3).  Down climb the logs to the pool and walk or wade to the other side then continue down canyon in more sand and a couple scrambles up on the side walls of the canyon to avoid some debris.  

Rap 7 (dBehuninR7) is about 350 feet down canyon from the down climb to and across the small pool.  Rap 7 is anchored by a set of bolted hangers RDC.  I found Rap 7 very fun as it drops overall about 90 feet over two stages.  Below the first stage is landing with a pothole.  The pothole is small around but pretty deep.  As you rappel stay RDC to avoid the pothole.  Next walk around the pothole and start down the second stage.  The second stage is shorter than the first.  The bottom of the second stage drops into a pool that will be a bit over waist deep depending in water conditions.  The deepest part is right where the water course will drop into the pool.  When you start down the second stage try not to walk right down the water course.  Instead move a few feet LDC and rap down a smooth wall to the pool below.  This will put you in a shallower section of the pool.  Climb out the other side of the pool.   After getting out of the pool the canyon takes a sharp right where you will find another pool.  This pool can be bypassed by walking along a ledge RDC just above the pool.  One section of this ledge is very narrow and will be very difficult to pass while wearing a pack.  The best idea here is to get one person across and pass packs.   

After getting past the pool the canyon once again has a sandy floor in another short corridor.  Continue down canyon about 450 feet to get to rap 8.  You will find a rock pile leading up along the left wall.  Up this rock pile is an alternate rap station for rap 8.  To get to the rap station for rap 8 we used turn right and drop down onto a sandy area to continue along the canyon floor.  There will be a lot of large boulders in the water course.  Scramble over these (we found it easiest on the left).  As you get over a huge boulder you will see a sloped section of rock before it drops off.  That is rap 8.  The anchor for rap 8 is not visible until you start to climb down to the sloped rock beyond the huge boulder.  

Rap 8 is anchored from a choke stone under the huge boulder you just climbed over.  Rap 8 is about 100 feet and drops down a series of steep ledges.  At the bottom is a big landing.  The views from the bottom of rap 8 are great with Mountain of the Sun seen in the distance.  From the bottom of rap 8 walk out to the ledge and look down and left about 15 feet.  You should be able to see the anchors for rap 9.  

To get to the anchors for rap 9, drop down into a slot LDC.  The down canyon end of the slot has a drop down to another slot.  Drop down this second slot to where the anchors for rap 9 can be found  

Rap 9 (dBehuninR8-9) has two sets of anchors.  The first set is cluster of chains with 4 bolted hangers.  The second set is 2 bolted hangers further out on the ledge.  The chains were used as a safety tie in while rigging the rope and getting on rappel on the second set.  Rap 9 drops about 170 feet down a mostly vertical wall.  Along the way is another set of anchors with webbing attached and some hanging gardens on the wall.  Take your time on rap 9 to enjoy the view down, the hanging gardens on the wall and the great view out of the canyon and the rest of the park in the distance. 

The Exit:
After rap 9, scramble down a few rocks to a sandy bottom (yBehuninBt).  Continue down canyon from here to get to the Emerald Pools trail.  Travel down canyon from here is through a large boulder field where you will have to find your own route scrambling and down climb through the boulder field.  As you get closer to the Emerald Pools Trail you may find a few paths to the left of the drainage.  These paths are short and only bypass short sections and you may or may not find them.  From the bottom of rap 9 to the Emerald Pools Trail, plan on finding your own way through the large boulder debris.

Once at the Emerald Pools trail, turn left and walk down to the junction for the Kayenta Trail (jKayentaEmrld).  From there you can take the trail back to either the Zion Lodge or the Grotto stop where you started.  In either case, you then take the Zion shuttle back to the visitor center where you left your vehicle.

GPS Waypoint Information

Downloadable GPX files available at BG-Gear Store (easier than manual entry and a great way to support Bluugnome).
Waypoint naming convention and map symbol information can be found on the Glossary page.  Elevations are approximate.
manually entering coordinates set your system to WGS84 datum and Lat/Lon hddd.ddddd° coordinate format
Inconsistent datum's and coordinate formats will result in location errors.

Click to show / expand the list of waypoints below........
Behunin (1) - Approach
  1. wBusStpGrotto          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.25908   W -112.95121        Elev: 4,280 Feet
    The Grotto shuttle stop on the Zion - Floor of the Valley road.
  2. tAngleLnd          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.25998   W -112.95152        Elev: 4,300 Feet
    Angel's Landing Trailhead.
  3. sWaltrsWiglsTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.27534   W -112.95128        Elev: NaN Feet
    Top of Walter's Wiggles. 21 short steep switchbacks cut into the rock for the trail.
  4. jWestRimS          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.27492   W -112.95085        Elev: 5,330 Feet
    Junction off the Angel's Landing trail for the Southern West Rim Trailhead. This is known as Scouts Lookout.
  5. yRefrigUpr-Tp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.28297   W -112.95367        Elev: 5,860 Feet
    Top entry for Upper Refrigerator Canyon. This is the top of a steep ravine about 40 feet from the trail.
  6. cWstRmBridge          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.28598   W -112.95582        Elev: 5,590 Feet
    A bridge allowing the trail to cross a stream.
  7. yBehuninTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.28253   W -112.96999        Elev: 6,300 Feet
    Top entry for Behunin Canyon.
Behunin (2) - The Canyon and Exit
  1. yBehuninTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.28253   W -112.96999        Elev: 6,300 Feet
    Top entry for Behunin Canyon.
  2. wBehuninRP-1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.27785   W -112.97060        Elev: NaN Feet
    Pool of water with no easy down climb to it. Climb up and over to the left (east) to bypass along intermittent paths.
  3. jMtMajestic          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.27176   W -112.96934        Elev: 5,780 Feet
    Junction (no trail) where the route to Mount Majestic starts out of Behunin Canyon. This is just after where Behunin turns sharp left (east) and just before rap 1.
  4. dBehuninR1-2          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.27161   W -112.96785        Elev: NaN Feet
    Raps 1 and 2 in Behunin Canyon. Rap 1 is anchored from bolted chains RDC way out on a ledge and drops about 100 feet down a slight slope. Rap 2 is near the bottom of rap 1 and anchored from a tree RDC and drops about 100 feet down a slope.
  5. dBehuninR3-4          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.27159   W -112.96719        Elev: NaN Feet
    Raps 3 and 4 in Behunin Canyon. Rap 3 is anchored from a tree and drops about 160 feet down a slightly sloped wall to a pothole. Rap 4 is anchored RDC by bolted chains and drops about 110 feet down a vertcal wall with sections of free hang.
  6. wBehuninRP-2          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.26978   W -112.96636        Elev: 5,350 Feet
    An elevated alcove on the west side of the canyon. It has a big soft sandy bottom which is great for a break. This might also make a good camp spot if you so desired.
  7. dBehuninR5          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.26836   W -112.96603        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 5 in Behunin Canyon. Anchored from bolted chains RDC but these need replaced badly. Alternately a tree can be used. Rap 5 drops about 75 feet to a soft sandy floor in a narrow section of the canyon.
  8. dBehuninR6          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.26452   W -112.96459        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 6 in Behunin Canyon has an A and a B option. Rap 6a is from a fallen tree and drops 60 feet to a large pool that would be a swimmer. Rap 6b is about 50 down a use trail to a slung tree a drops about 50 feet to near the edge of the pool where it is less than waist deep if low water conditions exist in the canyon.
  9. wBehuninRP-3          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.26188   W -112.96347        Elev: NaN Feet
    A short down climb along some logs into a pool about 6 feet below.
  10. dBehuninR7          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.26113   W -112.96273        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 7 in Behunin Canyon. Rap 7 anchored from bolted hangers and drops overall about 90 feet down 2 stages. Stay LDC on the second stage (not in the water course) to avoid a deep section of a pool below.
  11. dBehuninR8-9          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.26003   W -112.96214        Elev: NaN Feet
    Raps 8 and 9 for Behunin Canyon. Rap 8 is anchored from a choke stone and drops about 100 feet down a series of ledges. R9 is anchored from bolted anchors and drops about 170 feet down a vertical wall.
  12. yBehuninBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.25974   W -112.96207        Elev: 4,710 Feet
    Bottom exit of Behunin Canyon.
  13. jKayentaEmrld          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.25745   W -112.96058        Elev: 4,440 Feet
    Junction of the Kayenta trail and the Emerald Pools Trails
  14. tAngleLnd          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.25998   W -112.95152        Elev: 4,300 Feet
    Angel's Landing Trailhead.