Canyoneering Route Description
Mystery Canyon - 3B III
Zion National Park, Utah.
10-01-09, 3 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 9 hours - Start from
Weeping Rock trailhead)
Time Required - 7 to 9 hours
Distance - 7.6 miles Total, 1.8 miles Technical
(starting from Weeping Rock trailhead).
Rappels - 11 Rappels, Longest Rappel 135 feet.
Elevation Range - 4440 - 6820 Feet
Shuttle Required - No - if starting from
Weeping Rock Vehicle - Passenger
Permit Required - Yes
Rappelling and anchor gear, Ropes and or pull cords for rappels up
to 135 feet and 50 feet of 1 inch webbing for sling placement.
Wet suits are only needed in the cooler months.
Mystery Canyon has a lot of variety.
The entry to the head of Mystery Canyon
starts out with a steep drop down loose terrain in to the canyon. This drop
will get and definitely deserves your attention. It is easily descended but
care must be taken not to slip and slide along the way. After the steep
descent, the canyon levels off a bit where you will encounter some unnecessary
anchors. Each of these can be bypassed by climbing around to the right
(RDC). About 1 mile from the head of the canyon is the first mandatory
rappel and the start of the narrow section of the canyon and starts a series of 5 rappels
in close succession to the
sharp left turn in the canyon. After the left turn the canyon opens a bit
and a few more rappels will get you to a seasonal lake. The seasonal lake,
if dry is a nice walk or maybe a muddy mess. If the canyon has high
water levels the lake can be a very long
swim. The lake is created by a huge dirt / rock slide just down canyon.
The canyon is wide open with lots of views for a short distance after the
lake dam before getting to the final section. The last section of Mystery
is like an oasis since the bottom of the 135 foot rap 10 is where a year
round spring starts. The last rap is less than 0.5 miles below the spring.
The spring fed section is very beautiful but very short so take time to
enjoy it because it will be over so quick you may feel you got ripped off.
After the final rap of 120 feet to the Narrows the route is completed by
enjoying about 0.5 miles of the narrows then the river walk sidewalk. If
the canyon had a longer spring fed section I would rate it higher on my
revisit list, but it doesn’t.
Note on getting to the correct canyon head:
At times people drop into the wrong canyon while looking for Mystery
Canyon. While looking for Mystery Canyon, some have accidentally
dropped into NotMystery Canyon (sometimes called MissMe Wash) which is
west of Mystery or have accidentally dropped into Mis-Me Canyon which is
east of Mystery. To be sure you do not drop into the wrong canyon,
refer to the notes in the route description.
Not Mystery (the one
west of Mystery) is the only one you definitely do not want to drop into
by accident. Not Mystery has a very large drop or rappel sequence at
the end that drops down to the River Walk trail below. Since it is a
popular trail below the lower portion of NotMystery is closed. Also if
you drop into NotMystery by accident you will likely have insufficient
rope to get down the last drop anyway. Doing this has left some parties
stranded and requiring rescue.
When viewed from the head, some of the
down canyon walls of NotMystery are higher than you are while looking
into it. This is not the case for both Mystery and Mis-Me Canyons where
the down canyon walls are lower than you are while looking into it from
For more on locating the correct canyon refer to the route description.
To get to the Trailhead
Park your vehicle at the Zion visitor center. From there take
the shuttle to the Weeping Rock stop to begin the route.
To leave the Exit Vehicle / Escape Pod
No exit vehicle is needed. After exiting and returning to
the Temple of Sinawava trailhead, ride the shuttle back to the
GPS coordinate information listed at the bottom. For information about waypoint naming and map symbols, refer to the
Click the links for maps of the route.
Map of the entire route.
Map of the technical section.
From the Weeping Rock shuttle stop get to the trailhead sign for
Weeping Rock and Observation Point (tObpntWpRk). Follow the trail
leading toward Observation Point. The trail here is paved and
starts up a series of steep switchbacks.
About 0.7 miles from the start, you will pass the junction to Hidden
Canyon (jHiddenCynBt), stay left and continue toward Observation
Point. About 0.5 miles after passing the junction to Hidden Canyon
the trail will level off and turn into a big narrow section, echo
After winding through this portion of Echo Canyon for a little over
miles the trail will start up the left side leaving the canyon
floor. This is where Upper Echo Canyon exits onto the trail (yEcho-MidBt).
About 0.3 miles later will be a trail junction for the East Rim or
East Mesa trail (jEastMesaTrl), stay left and continue on the East
Mesa trail toward Observation Point.
Continuing up from the East Mesa Junction toward Observation Point the trail starts up another series of steep switch
backs (still paved trail) as it continues toward Observation Point.
There are great views in this area so get a hold of yourself and stop
staring at the ground. After about 1.6 miles the trail will level off a bit
at another trail junction (jObservatnPt).
From the trail junction to Observation Point (jObservatnPt), turn
right (north east) and follow the East Mesa Trail (not toward
The trail from the junction starts out mostly level then soon starts
to climb again. Shortly after leaving the junction you will be
able to see a large canyon on the left (north) which is NotMystery
Canyon or sometimes referred to as Miss-Me Wash. About 600
feet after the Observation Point junction you begin to have views
down into NotMystery. The trail will continue to climb while
going around the head of NotMystery.
Differentiating Not Mystery Canyon from Mystery Canyon.
NotMystery Canyon can be seen from the trail when you are slightly
west of its apex and some of the down canyon walls of NotMystery
are notably higher than the trail. By contrast Mystery is not
seen from the trail (you need to walk about 60 to 80 feet north of
the trail to see it) and the down canyon walls are all lower than
Also of note, while going around the head of NotMystery the trail will have
some steps in it made from logs placed across the trail and filled
in with dirt. This is good to note to help prevent dropping
into NotMystery when you are looking for Mystery. Approaching
from the Weeping Rock trailhead you will need to climb up the trail
using these steps and continue along the trail to the next canyon.
If you are approaching from the east side of the park and you find
these steps in the trail you will know you have gone too far and
passed Mystery Canyon.
Note / Warning!!:
NotMystery Canyon (Miss-Me Wash) is closed since the final rappel
sequence drops down over the Zion Narrows River Walk trail.
The lower section of the canyon is closed to keep people on the
River Walk trail safe from falling debris. Some people have
mistakenly dropped into NotMystery Canon while thinking they were in
Mystery Canyon, which has resulted in emergency rescues. The
final rap sequence in NotMystery is quite long and those prepared
for Mystery Canyon do not have the rope length needed to complete
final section. They do not find this out until they have
already pulled ropes from previous rappels on their descent.
This leaves them stuck between raps and requiring rescue.
NotMystery is west of Mystery Canyon and should not be confused with
Mis-Me Canyon which is a relatively easy canyon and is to the east
of Mystery. Since NotMstery is sometimes referred to as MissMe
Wash it is easy to confuse it with Mis-Me Canyon.
About 0.7 miles after the Observation Point junction the trail will
top out and level off for a short distance then begin to lose
elevation down the other side of the top out. About 500 to 900 feet
after the top out of the trail Mystery Canyon will be on the left
(north). From the trail Mystery Canyon is not readily seen. Look
for one of a few social trails leaving the
main trail and going north over to the head of Mystery.
The head of Mystery Canyon is about 0.9 miles from the Observation
Point junction a well defined use trail
leaves the main trail and goes north to the drop in for Mystery
Canyon (yMysteryTp). The drop in at the head of Mystery Canyon
is about 80 feet off the main trail.
The Canyon / Technical Section:
From the head of Mystery Canyon the use trail starts down a VERY
steep slope. Travel here is very slow since it would be easy to
slip. If you slip here you may find yourself tumbling a little way
before you get yourself stopped. The steep slope continues for a
little over 0.3 miles before beginning to level off a little. This
sloped area is sometimes referred to as Death Gully. After the
slope levels off, travel becomes easier allowing you to take in the
sights rather than focus on your every step.
Along the way will be a bolted anchor over a drop of about 20 feet.
This anchor is not needed as there is a very easy route to climb
around the drop RDC (east). A little further down canyon will be a
cairn style anchor over another short drop. This anchor is also not
needed as there is an easy route to climb around the drop to the
right (east). A little further down canyon is another bolted anchor
over a drop of about 40 feet. This anchor is also not needed as
there is an easy climb around route to the right (east). A little
further down canyon is a log jam at the top of a drop. There is an
anchor after the log jam to rap the drop. This anchor is not needed
either as there is a well worn climb around path that leads around
the log jam and drop.
A short distance after the 4 unnecessary anchors (about 1.0 mile
from the head of the canyon where you left the main trail) will be
another anchor consisting of two glue-in style anchors. If you have
not been counting the unnecessary anchors along the way you will
still know this one is the first mandatory rappel. The anchor is in
a tall narrow section where it is obvious you will not be climbing
around this one. This drop is Rap 1 (dMysteryR1-3).
Rap 1 drops about 50 feet and is anchored LDC by 2 glue in anchors
about head high on the wall. Rap 1 has a slight overhang near the
top as the rappel drops over a boulder then continues the rest of
the way down a smooth fluted wall.
Rap 2 is about 50 feet down canyon of rap 1. Rap 2 is anchored from
two anchors, one a glue-in and one a bolted anchor. The anchors are
RDC about head high. Rap 2 drops about 40 feet.
Rap 3 is about 50 feet down canyon of rap 2. Rap 3 is anchored from
two glue-in style anchors about head high on the wall LDC and drops
about 40 feet. Rap 3 drops along another smooth slightly fluted
About 50 feet down canyon of rap 3 is a very old (looks homemade)
anchor LDC just above a down climb of about 8 or 9 feet. This is a
pretty easy down climb so the anchor is not really needed but it is
interesting to see that some have rappelled off of what looks like
nothing more than a bolted metal strap. About 50 feet down canyon
of this down climb is a short down climb to the top of rap 4
Rap 4 is anchored RDC by a single (looks a bit old) bolted anchor.
Rap 4 drops over large boulder choke stone with some overhang under
it. The total drop is about 15 feet.
Rap 5 is close to the bottom of rap 4. Rap 5 is anchored RDC about
head high from two anchors, one bolted and the other glue-in. Rap 5
is a 2 stage rap with a few rocks to step over to get to the next
stage. The drops for Rap 5 are 10 feet for stage one and about 15
feet for stage 2.
At the bottom of rap 5 the canyon is finishing up its hard left turn
to the west. The canyon also starts to open a bit and loose the
tight dark slot feel. A couple hundred feet and a few fun down
climbs after rap 5 and the canyon turning westward, is the top of
rap 6 (dMysteryR6).
Rap 6 is anchored RDC by two bolted anchors about chest high. Rap 6
drops about 20 feet. From the top of Rap 6 you can see the canyon
is about to open up a lot.
A short distance down canyon of rap 6 is a down climb down a log.
Near the bottom of the log are the anchors for Rap 7 (dMysteryR7-8).
Rap 7 is anchored from two bolted anchor RDC. Rap 7 drops about 50
feet by starting over a boulder then continuing down a smooth rock
Rap 8 is about 60 feet down canyon of rap 7. Rap 8 is anchored from
a single bolted anchor RDC. Some will find this a pretty easy down
climb, while others will not want to down climb it, so for this
route description it will be counted as a rappel. Rap 8 drops about
25 feet and as stated can be down climbed if desired.
Travel down canyon of rap 8 is easy with a couple quick simple down
climbs. About 0.25 miles from rap 8 is a seasonal lake created from
a huge rock slide. When there is not water in the lake it is an
easy walk along a wide wash to a tall rock / sand slope (which is
what dammed up the canyon to form the seasonal lake). If there is a
lot of water in the canyon you will be greeted with a LONG swim of
around 800 feet. If exceptionally full of water part of the swim
will be through a section of trees.
After getting to the end of the seasonal lake (rather you swam or
walked) climb up a trail RDC (north) to get to the top of the dirt
and rock dam. From the top of the dam (sMysteryLakDam) there
are great views of the now wide open Mystery Canyon. From the top
of the dam, make your way down the steep loose slope back to the
canyon floor. There will be a couple down climbs of about 10 feet
just before getting back down to the canyon floor.
Rap 9 (dMysteryR9) is a few hundred feet after getting down the
slope of the dam. Rap 9 is anchored RDC by two glue-in anchors on
the ground. Rap 9 drops about 50 feet down a sloped rock face.
After rap 9 the canyon has sections of sandy wash with lots of
vegetation and a few simple down climbs. A short distance down
canyon from rap 9 is a drop of about 20 feet with a large log
forming a bridge down the drop. At the bottom of the log the canyon
is narrow sandstone slot. About 150 feet down canyon of the log
bridge the canyon turns left to reveal a large sand filled (if in
dry conditions) pothole on the right with a large sloped slab on the
left. On the other side of the pothole is a big drop in the canyon
which is Rap 10.
Rap 10 (dMysteryR10) is about 0.2 miles down canyon from rap 9. Rap
10 is LDC and just a little down canyon of the big drop from the
pothole. To get to Rap 10, traverse the large sandstone slab on the
left (LDC). There are two sets of bolted anchors at the end of the
slab. A hand line has been placed over to the anchors for safety.
If you are careful this can easily be done without the safety line
but it is still a good idea to clip in.
Rap 10 is anchored from one of two sets of bolted anchors and drops
about 100 feet to a huge choke stone then off the huge choke stone
another 35 feet to a pool below (total drop is about 135 feet.
There is a year round spring at the bottom of rap 10 so there will
always be water in this pool which is a swimmer but for only a few
feet. With a little skill you can swing over to the RDC side of the
pool and drop yourself onto a rock ledge that is about 2 feet under
water. From there it is a bit of a trick but you can manage to get
across the pool and only get wet a little over wait high. Warning
you may fall in while trying this. :)
With the year round spring feeding this section of the canyon there
are hanging gardens and water running down canyon. This section
feels like an oasis in the canyon. Travel down canyon from rap 10
is along sections of flowing water and a couple down climbs of about
10 feet that some may want a belay for.
Rap 11 (dMysteryR11) is about 0.1 miles down canyon of rap 10. The
canyon from rap 10 to Rap 11 feels like a paradise with all the
water and greenery between the high narrow walls. After reaching
Rap 11 it feels like you got ripped off because the paradise was so
short and is now over.
Rap 11 is anchored from a set of glue-in anchors LDC. Rap 11 drops
about 120 feet to the Virgin River Narrows. Rap 11 drops along a
sloped wall with constant water flowing down it with lots of
slippery algae on it. It can be pretty slick so be careful not to
slip. If there are a lot of tourists in the area you might even get
some applause while dropping to the river below.
After getting to the river (yMysteryBt) at the bottom of rap 11,
follow it down stream less than 0.5 miles to where the River Walk
trail (paved) meets the river. Go up the stairs to the sidewalk and
walk another mile to the lower trailhead for the Narrows (tNarrowsBot)
which is the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop.
Ride the shuttle back to the visitor center to get your vehicle.
Downloadable GPX files
(easier than manual entry and a great way to support
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........
|Mystery (1) - Approach from Weeping Rock|
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.27098
Elev: 7,327 Feet
Weepeing Rock and East Rim trail bus stop.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.27053
Elev: 4,371 Feet
Trail head for Weeping Rock and Observation Point.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.26949
Elev: 4,760 Feet
Junction off the Observation trail where the Hidden Canyon trail starts.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.27049
Elev: 5,250 Feet
Of note there is a USDI - NPS elevation marker here that says the elevation is 5194.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.27237
Elev: 5,320 Feet
Bottom Exit of Echo Canyon.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.27427
Elev: 5,620 Feet
Junction where the East Mesa trail starts off the East Rim trail and heads toward Observation point.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.28105
Elev: 6,510 Feet
Junction off of the East Mesa trail to Observation Point.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.28246
Elev: 6,474 Feet
This is where you would leave the trail to get to teh head of NotMystery Canyon. The apex of the NotMystery Canyon meets the trail about 800 feet east of this point.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.28304
Elev: NaN Feet
Top of Not Mystery got it's name from people getting in mistakenly and needing rescue. Final rap is about 500 feet down to the river walk with bad rock fall problems. Canyon has been closed.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.28903
Elev: 6,775 Feet
Top entry to Mystery Canyon.
|Mystery (3) - The Canyon and Exit|
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.28903
Elev: 6,775 Feet
Top entry to Mystery Canyon.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.30263
Elev: NaN Feet
Raps 1 - 3 in Mystery Canyon.
Rap 1 anchored from 2 glue-in anchors LDC and drops about 50 feet.
Rap 2 anchored from 2 anchors RDC and drops about 50 feet.
Rap 3 anchored from 2 glue-in anchors LDC and drops about 40 feet.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.30324
Elev: NaN Feet
Raps 4 - 5 in Mystery Canyon.
Rap 4 anchored from singe bolted anchor RDC and drops about 15 feet.
Rap 5 anchored from 2 anchors RDC and drops about 25 feet over 2 stages.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.30304
Elev: NaN Feet
Rap 6 in Mystery Canyon. Rap 6 anchored from 2 bolted anchors RDC and drops about 20 feet.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.30290
Elev: NaN Feet
Raps 7 - 8 in Mystery Canyon.
Rap 7 anchored from 2 bolted anchors and drops about 50 feet.
Rap 8 anchored from a single bolted anchor RDC and drops about 25 feet but should be down climbable by most.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.30094
Elev: NaN Feet
Top of the natural dam that forms a seasonal lake in Mystery Canyon. Great views down canyon from here.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.29930
Elev: NaN Feet
Rap 10 in Mystery Canyon. Rap 10 anchored from one of two sets of bolted anchors at the end of a sandstone ledge LDC and drops about 135 feet to a pool below with a huge choke stone near the bottom.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.29932
Elev: NaN Feet
Rap 11 in Mystery Canyon. Rap 11 is anchored from 2 glu-in anchors LDC and drops about 120 feet to the Virgin River Narrows.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.29928
Elev: 4,560 Feet
Bottom exit of Mystery Canyon where it meets the Virgin River Narrows after the 120 foot Rap 11.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.29672
Elev: 4,560 Feet
This is where the river walk side walk meets the river in The Narrows.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.28535
Elev: 4,440 Feet
Bottom trailhead for the Virgin River Narrows at the Temple of Sinawava.