Escape into the canyons – the quieter side of Arches

Southern Utah is a land of many canyons. Some are easily accessible by foot, others require more effort. As you would expect, the harder to reach places have fewer people and are less disturbed. Last week I spoke of the hoards of tourists that line up every day at Arches. This week we discovered a way to escape the “army of ants”. We’ve decided to take up the sport of canyoneering in order to explore some of the more interesting parts of our state.

Technical canyoneering involves the use of ropes, harnesses, and other safety gear to rappel into canyons that can’t be reached by foot. A friend of ours gave us a crash course this weekend in U-Turn Canyon in Arches National Park. Even though we were only a few hundred feet from the heavily-used Park Avenue hiking trail, U-Turn is devoid of people and quiet.

Canyoneering in national parks requires a special permit obtained at the visitor center. Be careful and don’t do anything that you haven’t been trained to do.

In addition to this canyon, we hiked into William Grandstand Canyon and Hunter Canyon, both short drives from Moab and take you into pretty impressive walled canyons with arches and all of the usual amazing scenery you should expect from a hiking trail in these parts.


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