Canyoneering Route Description

Englestead Canyon - 4B III (IV) R
Zion National Park, Utah.

Quick Facts

08-24-08, 3 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 10 hours) Pictures Icon

Time Required - 9 to 12 hours
Distance - 7.4 miles Total, 1.5 miles Technical (also 1 rap on the exit route)
Rappels - 11 Rappels, Longest Rappel 290 feet. (10 raps in Englestead and 1 in Orderville)
Elevation Range - 6430 - 4440 Feet
Shuttle Required -Yes 22.6 Miles Vehicle - High Clearance (possibly 4WD Permit Required - Yes

Distance - 7.4 miles Total, 5 miles Technical

Gear Used for Canyon

Rappelling and anchor gear, Ropes and or pull cords for rappels up to 290 feet and 60 feet of 1 inch webbing for sling placement.  At least a 3mm wet suit is recommended.  During warm days with low water you may not need it.  If there is significant water or the days are cool you will likely want one.

General Comments

This was a fun route.  The first rap is only 0.7 miles from the trailhead and starts the route out with a bang, 290 foot rap.  Walking up to the first rap feels like you are walking up to a slit in the earth dropping to the core - very cool view walking up to it.  From there it is 1.5 miles to the junction of Orderville Canyon and 10 raps in Englestead Canyon.  The upper slot has 4 raps and the lower slot has 6 raps.  Both upper and lower slots get tight and windy in spots, very scenic.  Between the upper and lower slots is a section that winds a little but is mostly flat ground with high walls on either side.

Englestead Canyon had only one section with water in it when we went through.  Looking at the lay of the land I doubt there would be any need to swim even if the canyon were full of water.  If the canyon had a lot of water there would be multiple places to wade however.

Once in Orderville Canyon continue down canyon to the Zion Narrows, then down the Narrows to exit at the Temple of Sinawava.  The lower portion of Orderville is very scenic.  More and more flowing water appears as you get closer to the Narrows.  There are a few water falls to hand line down and one spot set up as a rappel although it can arguably be done with a hand line but probably not too safe.

Orderville Canyon had a couple of swims for us and there would most likely be a couple more if there were more water in the canyon just below Englestead.  Even in low water conditions you "will" have a couple swims in lower Orderville.

Love this canyon.  As you approach the first rappel the area is wide open with sloping hillsides.  As the first rappel comes into view and you start looking at where it goes, it takes you by surprise.  It looks like the earth just split open (DEEP) and you are at the head of the fissure.  Rappel 4 is my favorite.  It drops down a fluted wall where the flute twists on its way down and you get to play in it on the way down.  Looks as good watching someone on the rap as it does while actually on it.  Travel is pretty easy over all and the scenery is great.  The lower portion of Orderville has a few scenic surprises as well.  This route covers Englestead, Lower Orderville and the Lower part of the Zion Narrows.  It's a 3 for 1.

Driving Directions

To get to the Trailhead

The trailhead is accessed by a web of dirt roads near the north eastern corner of Zion National Park.  These roads create a maze and can be difficult to navigate with written instructions.  I have tried to make these as clear as possible.  The waypoints will include points along this drive in route to assist with locating the trailhead.

  • From the East Gate of Zion National Park –
    • Travel 2.4 miles east on highway 9 to the turn for North Fork.
    • Turn Left (north) toward North Fork.
  • From the turn to North Fork –
    • Travel 5.3 miles on a paved road to the turn for the Ponderosa Ranch.
    • Turn Left into Ponderosa Ranch.
  • From the turn into Ponderosa Ranch
    • Set your trip meter or note your mileage.
    • Mileages given in the rest of these directions will be referenced from this point.
  • A little over 400 feet the pavement will end.
    • This road was ok for passenger cars at the time of this writing.
  • At mile 0.5 –
    • Continue straight on the road you were on. (toward Observation Point)
    • There is a track of some sort to the right and a road to the left.
  • At mile 0.7 –
    • You will come to a Tee in the road.
    • Turn right. (toward Observation Point)
  • At mile 1.5 –
    • Turn right. (toward Observation Point)
  • At mile 2.7 –
    • Turn right. (toward Observation Point)
    • A road comes in from the left here.
    • Travel beyond here may require a car some clearance.
    • If you need to park here, it is a 0.9 mile walk to the trailhead.
    • There is room to park 1 maybe 2 cars but it is a tight squeeze.
  • At mile 2.8 –
    • Continue straight.
    • There will be a narrow road to the right too tight for most cars.
    • If you are walking you can take this road to shave about 500 feet off.
    • If you are driving continue straight.
  • At mile 2.9 –
    • Turn right. (NOT toward Observation Point)
    • This is where you stop following signs to Observation Point
  • At mile 3.1 –
    • Turn right.
    • This right turn is onto a narrower road that almost appears to make a u-turn.
  • At mile 3.3 –
    • This is where the walking short cut would meet the driving route.
    • If walking turn right.
    • If driving continue straight.

To leave the Exit Vehicle / Escape Pod

For an exit vehicle park a car at the visitor center in Zion.  When you have completed the route you will exit the Zion Narrows at the Temple of Sinawava.  From there you can ride the shuttle to the visitor center to the exit vehicle.


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 drive into the route.
Map of the entire route.


The Approach:
Start hiking to the north from the trailhead 10 to 40 feet until you see an ATV track heading east.  Follow the ATV track east down a grade 0.2 miles until it levels off and starts to veer right (wEnglestdRP-01).  Do not turn right but instead turn left and leave the ATV trail and travel almost north through the trees and look for a path worn in with foot traffic. 

About 450 feet after leaving the ATV track start working a little way down the slope on the right (northeast).  Look for a well traveled path heading mostly east down the steep slope toward Englestead Hollow (wEnglestdRP-02).  The path had a couple cairns along the way when we were there.

About 500 feet after starting down the path you will reach the bottom of Englestead Hollow (yEnglesteadTp).  This will be at mile 0.4 from the trailhead and is marked on the map as the top entry for the canyon.

The Canyon / Technical Section:
After getting to the bottom of the hollow, travel down canyon to the left (north west).  Travel is easy to Rap 1 which is about 0.3 mile from where you dropped into the wash.

When you reach Rap 1 (dEngelSteadR1) you will be greeted with a great view down a chasm where the floor of the hollow just drops off a sheer cliff.  This is quite interesting to look at.  It looks like the earth just has a huge tear in it as you are walking up to.

Rap 1 is 290 feet and is anchored by webbing from a pine tree LDC of the drop off. 

While rigging Rap 1 it is tempting to look down into the 290 foot deep chasm.  It is a very good idea to tie in a safety at the pine tree when doing this.  It would be easy to momentarily lose your balance looking into the canyon below.

We tied the 400 foot and 200 foot ropes together, located the middle to place in the rapids and tossed the ends to the canyon floor.  The lighting at the canyon floor is low making it hard to see the ropes at the bottom.  After wiggling the ropes around a lot we could tell they were on the bottom.

When starting this rap it almost feels like you are disappearing into a hole in the center of the earth.  About 60 or 70 feet down is another rap sation.  The rap station was about 10 feet to the right of the natural hang line of the rap.  The rap station there is more of a hanging station.  There are some spots to stand but you will need the assist of being tied in to the anchors to be able to stand there.  There were 2 bolt and hangars there that looked like they had been there a while.  Looking at them they did appear solid though.  The webbing tied to them was not new but was still in good condition.

About 30 or 40 feet from the bottom of the rap is a huge ledge.  If the ropes did not reach bottom but did reach this ledge there are 2 more sets of anchors to rap from.  This ledge is big enough for quite a few people.

Hanging your pack while on this rappel would be a good idea.  The length of the rappel and it being vertical with some long free hanging sections add up to your pack feeling pretty heavy on your way down if you decide to wear it.  There was about 10 feet of rope left on the ground so we guess the rap to be about 290 feet.  Our 200 and 400 foot ropes are actually a few feet longer and easily account for the length the knots take up.

Rap 2 starts about 40 feet down canyon from Rap 1.  Rap 2 drops 35 feet to the gravel floor below and is anchored from a boulder at the top of the rap.

Rap 3 starts about 40 feet from rap 2.  Rap 3 drops about 30 feet and is anchored from a boulder.  It starts out RDC of the boulder it is anchored from and begins with a bit of a tight squeeze.  Along the drop is a log to bypass.  This log is about 8 feet from the floor and serves as the anchor for rap 4.

Rap 4 is anchored from the log about 8 feet up from the bottom of rap 3.  Webbing is stretched from the log to the top of Rap 4 about 25 feet away.  It drops a total of about 100 feet in two stages.  The first stage is about 20 feet to a gravel filled pothole and the second stage is about 80 feet to the floor below.  This second stage of Rap 4 I thought was particularly scenic.  It descends down a relatively flat wall with few features.  Running down the center of the wall is a flute carved out by water.  It gets a bit wider as it descends and twists a little.  The fun part is you get to play in this flute on the way down since the natural line is right down it.  You feel closed in and secluded in this area since the lighting is low from the high narrow walls. 

Between Rap 4 and Rap 5 (a little under a mile) the canyon starts with some narrow twisting walls with level wash gravel on the floor.  It quickly straightens out but stays flat and narrow.  There are a couple long straight portions broken up with some tighter twisting sections and one easy down climb.  This section is easy travel and the distance goes fast.

Rap 5 drops about 20 feet down a log jam and is anchored from a log at the top.  After rap 5 is more easy travel with one down climb before Rap 6 which drops about 10 feet down another log jam.

A few hundred feet of easy travel after rap 6 is a rock fall area.  Rap 7 is in this rock fall.  It is anchored with a sling around a boulder and about drops 15 feet.  From there continue down climbing the rock fall and head down canyon. 

Rap 8 is shortly after the rock fall and is anchored with a sling around a boulder about 10 feet off the ground RDC.  Rap 8 drops about 15 feet.

Shortly after rap 8 is Rap 9.  Rap 9 is anchored by a sling wrapped around a half buried log at the top of the wrap.  It drops about 10 feet.

Below rap 9 are more tight walls and mostly easy wash walking.  There are a couple down climbs.  One we used a handline to drop over some boulders about 8 feet down.  This down climb had some webbing slung around a boulder so it could be rappelled if desired.  Another down climb was through a loose log jam.  There was also a tight winding section to get down with some water at the bottom.  Where the water had collected was also a window eroded into the sandstone walls.  While getting through the water you also pass through the window, which I found entertaining.

Next is Rap 10 which is the last rap in Englestead.  Rap 10 is anchored from a small choke stone.  The rope is then tossed over a log wedged in the slot at the top of the rap.  Rap 10 drops about 20 feet. 

A couple hundred feet beyond rap 10 there is a drop off RDC.  No need to descend this drop.  Climb up and over LDC then down climb to the canyon floor.  Once at the bottom of this climb over, you are in Orderville Canyon.

The Exit:
From the Junction of Orderville you have two options.  You can go up Orderville or down Orderville then out the Zion Narrows.

To exit by going through the Zion Narrows, turn left (west) and start down canyon in Orderville.  The first part of Orderville has high walls but is pretty wide.  As you travel downstream it begins to get narrower and a lot more scenic.  The lower portion of Orderville is very scenic and easy travel. 

About 1.2 miles down canyon of Englestead Canyon is the junction to Mis-Me Canyon.  This is the 3rd drainage on the LDC side after Englestead. 

About 0.9 miles down canyon of Mis-Me Canyon is Orderville Rap 2 which is about 2.4 miles down canyon of Orderville rap 1. 

Rap 2 in Orderville has a huge (house sized) choke stone overhead that has a tree and bushes growing on it.  The rappel drops about 12 feet to a pool below and is anchored from 2 bolted hangers LDC.  This is one of my favorite rappels.  It is short but has very high wow factor with the huge rock over head and the pool below.  It is just very pretty.

Down canyon from rap 2 in Orderville the canyon has more and more water.  The further down canyon you go the more the water is flowing.  This is some of the best scenery in Orderville.  There are also more down climbs.  One of the down climbs drops into a pool that requires about a 30 foot swim.

About 1 mile below Orderville rap 2 is the junction with the Zion Narrows. 

From the Narrows junction turn left (south) and travel 1.4 miles down the narrows to the steps leading to the sidewalk.   Follow the sidewalk another 1 mile to the Temple of Sinawava Shuttle stop.  From there it is a shuttle ride back to the visitor center.  Pick up your vehicle there to go get the vehicle left at the Birch Hollow trailhead.

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........
Englestead (1) -Drive to Trailhead
  1. wEngDP-01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.23934   W -112.83230        Elev: 5,869 Feet
    Turn to the North Fork off Highway 9.
  2. wEngDP-02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.27285   W -112.87304        Elev: NaN Feet
    Turn left, to the Ponderosa Ranch.
  3. wEngDP-03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.27303   W -112.87625        Elev: NaN Feet
    Pavement Ends.
  4. wEngDP-04          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.27489   W -112.88006        Elev: NaN Feet
    Continue straight. Sign saying Observation Point.
  5. wEngDP-05          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.27583   W -112.88405        Elev: NaN Feet
    Turn right at Tee in the road. Toward Observation Point.
  6. wEngDP-06          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.27944   W -112.89551        Elev: NaN Feet
    Turn Right. Toward Observation Point.
  7. wEngDP-07          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.29467   W -112.89682        Elev: NaN Feet
    Turn Right. Toward Observation Point. Possible high clearance beyond here. Tight parking 1 maybe 2 cars max. Road comes in from left. The route continues to the right.
  8. wEngDP-08          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.29610   W -112.89757        Elev: NaN Feet
    If walking you can turn right for a short cut. If driving continue left.
  9. wEngDP-09          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.29705   W -112.89941        Elev: NaN Feet
    Turn Right. NOT toward Observation Point.
  10. wEngDP-10          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.30034   W -112.89934        Elev: NaN Feet
    Turn Right. This is a smaller road that appears to almost start a u-turn.
  11. wEngDP-11          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.30073   W -112.89696        Elev: NaN Feet
    Where walking short cut meets driving route.
  12. tEngelstead          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.30102   W -112.89222        Elev: 6,430 Feet
    Trailhead for Englestead Canyon.
Englestead (2) - Approach and The Canyon
  1. tEngelstead          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.30102   W -112.89222        Elev: 6,430 Feet
    Trailhead for Englestead Canyon.
  2. wEnglestdRP-01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.30068   W -112.88947        Elev: 6,287 Feet
    Route point 1 for Englestead. Leave ATV track where it levels off and start north. Look for a path made from foot traffic.
  3. wEnglestdRP-02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.30179   W -112.88973        Elev: 6,250 Feet
    Route point 02 for Englestead. Start working down the slope to the right (northeast) and look for a well traveled path heading mostly east toward down the steep grade Englestead Hollow.
  4. wEnglestdRP-03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.30199   W -112.88876        Elev: 6,146 Feet
    Route Point 03 for Englestead. This is about half way down the steep slope just before entering the hollow.
  5. yEnglesteadTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.30248   W -112.88818        Elev: 6,040 Feet
    Top point of the Englestead Canyoneering route where the trail drops into the Hollow.
  6. dEngelSteadR1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.30502   W -112.89147        Elev: 5,995 Feet
    Rap 1 in Englestead Canyon. 290 feet Anchored from Pine Tree LDC.
  7. dEngelSteadR2-4          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.30526   W -112.89169        Elev: 5,931 Feet
    Raps 2-4 in Englestead Canyon. Rap 2 - 35 feet anchored from boulder. Rap 3 - 30 feet anchored from boulder. Rap 4 - 100 feet total (20 feet to pot hole then 80 feet down water flute) anchored from log 8 feet from bottom of rap 3.
  8. dEngelSteadR5          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.31249   W -112.89900        Elev: 5,577 Feet
    Rap 5 in Englestead Canyon. 20 feet from a log just above the floor from the top of the rap.
  9. dEngelSteadR6          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.31326   W -112.90297        Elev: 5,442 Feet
    Rap 6 in Englestead Canyon. 10 feet anchored from a log at the top of a log jam. This rap is a little awkward.
  10. dEngelSteadR7-9          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.31364   W -112.90467        Elev: 5,341 Feet
    Raps 7 - 9 in Englestead Canyon. Rap 7 - 15 feet from wedged boulder in rock fall. Rap 8 - 15 feet anchored from rock 10 feet overhead RDC. Rap 9 - 10 feet anchored from half buried log.
  11. dEngelSteadR10          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.31395   W -112.90551        Elev: 5,274 Feet
    Rap 10 in Englestead Canyon. 20 feet anchored from buried choke stones.
  12. yEngleSteadBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.31461   W -112.90599        Elev: 5,140 Feet
    Bottom Of Englestead Canyon where it meets Orderville Canyon.
Englestead (3) - Exit
  1. yEngleSteadBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.31461   W -112.90599        Elev: 5,140 Feet
    Bottom Of Englestead Canyon where it meets Orderville Canyon.
  2. yMis-MeBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.31230   W -112.92319        Elev: 4,960 Feet
    Bottom exit of Mis-Me Canyon where it joins Orderville Canyon.
  3. yBullochBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.31228   W -112.92878        Elev: NaN Feet
    Intermittent Stream
  4. dOrderVileR2          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.31167   W -112.93784        Elev: 4,820 Feet
    Rap 2 in Orderville Canyon. Drops about12 feet anchored from 2 bolt and hangars LDC. The pool has a waterfall. There is a huge boulder overhead with tree growing on top. One of my favorite rappels. This is sometimes called the Guillotine due to the huge boulder chock stone over head.
  5. yOrdervilleBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.30803   W -112.94661        Elev: 4,670 Feet
    Bottom exit of Orderville Canyon. Junction where Orderville Canyon meets the narrows in the North Fork of the Virgin River. Zion Ntl. Park
  6. yMysteryBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.29928   W -112.94447        Elev: 4,560 Feet
    Bottom exit of Mystery Canyon where it meets the Virgin River Narrows after the 120 foot Rap 11.
  7. jRiverWalkEnd          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.29672   W -112.94818        Elev: 4,560 Feet
    This is where the river walk side walk meets the river in The Narrows.
  8. tNarrowsBot          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.28535   W -112.94785        Elev: 4,440 Feet
    Bottom trailhead for the Virgin River Narrows at the Temple of Sinawava.