Canyoneering Route Description

Telephone Canyon - 3A III
Zion National Park, Utah.

Quick Facts

08-22-09, 2 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 10.1 hours) Pictures Icon
07-24-11, 4 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 10.5 hours) - Telephone Canyon and Refrigerator Canyon on exit.
12-25-14, 5 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 12.5 hours) - Lots of snow making things difficult - Not the recommended season

Time Required - 9 to 11hours
Distance -  9.6 miles Total, 0.8 miles Technical
Rappels -  12 Rappels, Longest Rappel 185 feet.
Elevation Range - 4280 - 6765 Feet
Shuttle Required -No  Vehicle - Passenger Permit Required - Yes

Gear Used for Canyon

Rappelling and anchor gear, Ropes and or pull cords for rappels up to 185 feet and 60 feet of 1 inch webbing for sling placement.

General Comments

Telephone Canyon was a pleasant surprise.  The approach is a bit of a climb but is worth it.  The technical section is about 0.3 miles long and has 13 rappels in it.  The rappels are rapid fire.  some of the raps you can simply drag the rope over to the next rap rather than put it away after rappelling.  Some of the down climbs are fun and different.  The views of the tall sheer flat walls as you get further down canyon are awe inspiring.

Depending on your comfort and down climbing skills 2 to 4 of these rappels can easily be down climbed reducing time and total rap count.

Driving Directions

To get to the Trailhead

Park a vehicle at the Zion Visitor Center and ride the shuttle to the Grotto bus stop.

To leave the Exit Vehicle / Escape Pod

No exit vehicle is needed.  After exiting at the Grotto bus stop, ride the shuttle back to the visitor center to get your vehicle.

Maps

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.
Map of the technical section.

Details

The Approach:
After getting off the shuttle at the Grotto stop (wBusStpGrotto), 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 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 (yBehuninTp).  Continue up the trail which is cut into the side of a huge cliff heading northeast for about 0.5 miles to the next trail junction.  The trail junction (jTelphnCynTrl2) is where the Telephone Canyon trail and the Cabin Spring trail both meet the West Rim Trail.  

If you need water Cabin Springs is about 300 feet down a trail.  It is a good spot to filter water.  If you stay quiet and keep an eye out you may get to see a variety of animals looking to get some water after you leave.  Be sure to check with the back country desk before starting your trip to see if there is water flowing at the spring.  There are times when there is little or no flow.  

From the trail junction follow the Telephone Canyon trail north.

Note:
From the junction, look toward the trail down to Cabin Spring then look slightly left.  The trail immediately left is the trail to Telephone Canyon.  The trail immediately left of that is the continuation of the West Rim Trail.  The trail just left of that is a short trail over to camp site number 2. 

The Telephone Canyon trail has closed to general hiking for short periods of time after fires in the area.  The trail is beginning to get overgrown and is easily un-noticed from the junction to Cabin Spring.

After getting past the downed trees, the Telephone Canyon trail starts off very defined then starts into a meadow like area.  In the meadow, the grass and brush has begun to grow over the trail and it becomes a bit difficult to follow in places.  The trail winds a little but continues over all on an almost due north direction.

As the trail crosses the meadow area it also passes through a lot of dead black burned trees.  The burned forest thins out about 0.2 miles from the trail junction leaving you in a wide open meadow.   

As you come out of the burned forest and travel through more meadow you will be able to see another section of burned forest further down the trail.  About 0.4 miles from the trail junction in the open area between the burned forests will be a single tall burned tree sitting all by itself right next to the trail on the right (east) side of the trail (jTelephonAprTp).  This is where you leave the Telephone Canyon trail to get to the head of Telephone Canyon.  Leave the trail and walk about 324 feet on a bearing of 66 deg. to get to the head of the canyon (yTelephoneTp).  There is a lot of small dense vegetation to plod through on the way down the slope to the head of the canyon.

The Canyon / Technical Section:
The head of Telephone Canyon (yTelephoneTp) is an abrupt deep drop in the water course.  Above the head of the canyon the drainage is wide open and pretty flat.  At the head is a drop of over 100 feet down into a tight slot section.  Rap 1 is on the RDC (west) side of the canyon right at the head.  

Rap 1 is anchored from a large but dead burned tree.  As of summer 2009 the tree seems very strong and solid.  All the trees on this side of the head of the canyon are dead due to fires.  Over time these trees may not be the best choice for an anchor.  There are few rocks and not much else to anchor to.  In the future an alternate anchor option might need to be explored as the trees here decay.  Bolts could be placed in a large boulder near the tree that is now the anchor but natural anchor options should be explored first.

Rap 1 is right at the head of the canyon on the RDC (west) side and is anchored from a dead burned tree.  Rap 1 drops about 185 feet to the canyon floor.  The first part of rap 1 is down a mostly vertical wall followed by a section of free hang for about 50 feet.   Once at the bottom of Rap 1, do not get off rope just yet.  Walk around the corner and across the next pothole to continue the drop down another drop of about 20 feet.  The total rope length needed for rap 1 is 185 feet.  From the bottom of Rap1 the ropes clear the walls most of the way up but have about 50 feet of drag along the wall at the upper part of the rappel.

Note:
It is important for the last person down to make sure the ropes are not twisted on the upper part of the rappel.  If there are any twists in the ropes on the upper section of the rap, the pull will be difficult. 

Note:
Optionally Rap 1 can be broken up into two raps by dropping down about 40 feet to a shelf with another tree on it (this one is alive and well). But it is recommended not to break rap 1 up into two parts.

Getting to the shelf does not follow the natural fall line from the tree anchor of rap 1.  Getting over to the shelf involves traversing a bit as you rappel down.  If the person rappelling were to slip while descending rap 1 they would pendulum over and drop down lower than the shelf they are trying to reach.  The only way out would be to ascend back up, rappel all the way to the canyon floor or get help.  The angle of the traverse is such that it could easily cause someone to slip and pendulum over the edge.  Adding to the situation is the loose rock and dirt along the way.

A suggestion to help with safety if rapping over to the ledge is to have a person at the top keep the lower end of the rope that is being rappelled on.  If the person rappelling were to slip and pendulum over the edge, the person at the top could walk around the edge and pull them over to where they need to be.  The first person down could tie the rope off to a tree (leaving lots of slack) so they do not lose it.  If the next person down, slips and pendulums over, the person below can grab the rope to pull them back onto course.

At the bottom of rap 1 gives a good idea of the rest of the technical sections character.  Narrow, twisty and drop after drop.

Rap 2 is right at the bottom of rap 1.  Rap 2 is anchored from 2 bolted hangers LDC and drops about 45 feet.

Rap 3 is right at the bottom of rap .  Rap 2 is anchored from 2 bolted hangers LDC and drops about 35 feet.

Just below rap 3 is a down climb of about 8 feet then into a very narrow section.  The narrow section is less than a foot wide at the bottom and a bit more than shoulder width at shoulder height.  The slot starts pretty vertical but soon leans almost at a 45 degrees.  Part way down the angled slot is a choke stone with an anchor tied to it.

Rap 4 is anchored from the choke stone part way down the angled slot.  The slot can be down climbed but gets a little slick (smooth walls and lots of dust) near the bottom so using the rappel anchor will help keep things safer.  The bottom end of the angled slot gets a bit wide to climb down so you would do a little sliding if not on rappel.  Rap 4 is about 60 feet to the bottom end of the angled slot.

Rap 5 is about 100 feet down canyon of the angled slot.  Rap 5 is anchored from two bolted hangers RDC and drops about 85 feet to a sloped floor and looks beautiful from the top.  The floor at the bottom of rap 5 is sloped and scrambling down canyon can be risky depending on how much sand is on the rocks at the time.  After getting to the bottom of the rappel, stay on rope and scramble down canyon on the LDC side to a ledge near the bottom of the sloped rock (the rope pull for the rappel is fairly easy here).  The rope travel from the top of the rappel to the ledge will be about 100 feet.  After pulling the ropes it is an easy down climb of about 15 feet to the canyon floor.

Rap 6 is about 100 feet down canyon of rap 5 with a short down climb along some log debris along the way.  Rap 6 is anchored from a log at the top of the rap and drops about 30 feet to a pothole.  From the top the pothole looks like it might be a challenge to climb out of but is no big deal once you get to the bottom to look over.

Rap 7 is about 200 feet down canyon of rap 6 at the top of a large pour off.  Looking up from this area you start getting great views of the huge flat wall RDC in the canyon.  Rap 7 has 2 possible anchor stations.  One is a choke stone in the water course while the other is from a tree RDC.  The tree seems to give a better line to pull the rope.  Rap 7 drops about 40 feet from the tree.  

Rap 8 is at the bottom of rap 7.  Rap 8 is anchored from a choke stone and drops about 12 feet. 

Rap 9 is about 50 down canyon of rap 8.  Rap 9 is anchored from a large choke stone RDC.  Below the choke stone is a down climb of about 8 feet then another drop around a corner to the right.  There are a lot of rope pull marks on the canyon wall here.  Best bet is to extend an anchor from the large choke stone long enough to go around the corner below so it can be used to rap the next couple drops.  Use the extended webbing for the anchor as a hand line to get down the first drop (no hand line is really needed here though).  The drop around the corner is about 30 feet with an overhang under a large boulder.  After the 30 foot drop, walk down canyon a few feet to another drop around a corner to the left.  This second drop is about 20 feet.  After dropping down both the 30 foot and 20 foot drops the ropes can be pulled from the bottom.  This section had 3 separate anchors but can be done as one long rap as described above. 

Rap 10 is about 80 feet after rap 9.  Rap 10 is anchored from a very twisted looking log and a medium sized boulder at the top of the rap and drops about 25 feet.  

Shortly down canyon of rap 10 is a down climb of about 12 feet down a slick rock wall with a crack running down the middle of it about 6” wide.  The first person can be belayed as they down climb then assist the rest.  A fun way to get down this down climb is using hand / arm jams.  By going down feet first belly to the wall you can insert an arm down the crack and wedge it to lower you a little.  Then the next arm does the same below that.  While doing this, keep your toes jammed into the crack below.

Rap 11 is right at the bottom of this down climb.  Rap 11 is anchored from a boulder and a piece of a log and drops about 25 feet.  

Rap 12 is about 150 feet down canyon of rap 11 with some boulder hopping down climbs just before reaching the anchors.  Rap 12 is the last rap and is anchored from two bolted hangers RDC.  Rap 12 drops about 60 feet.  From the top of rap 12 take time to look back at the huge smooth wall of the canyon.  It is quite impressive from here.

Note:
The final rappel is anchored from 2 bolted hangers RDC way up over head.  There used to be a rock shelf below the anchors making the anchors about head high.  Sometime after 2005 the ledge below the rap station has collapsed and is now a lot of boulder debris.  This makes the bolted anchors about 9 feet up from where you can stand.  The easiest way up to the anchors is to pull yourself up the existing webbing to get up there.  Doing this could be fatal if the webbing broke while inspecting.  It might be a better option to rig a new anchor using the rock debris at the top of the rap.

After rap 12 follow the canyon about 600 feet to where it starts to open up.  This is the end of the technical section (yTelephoneBt).

The Exit:
As the canyon opens up (yTelephoneBt), stay a bit high on the right (south) side of the drainage and follow the natural flow of the slick rock.  It will be about 0.5 miles to get back over to the West Rim Trail.

Once back on the West Rim trail it is about 3.5 miles back down to the Grotto bus stop to complete the route.

GPS Waypoint Information

GPX Files Available for DOWNLOAD.
Downloadable GPX files for many of the canyons listed here are now available at the BG-Gear Store.  In addition to the waypoints, the GPX files also offer routes and tracks for the canyon.  Over time more GPX files will be added.

If you want to avoid manually adding waypoints into your GPS or mapping software, want the additional routes and tracks or simply want to support the efforts put into BluuGnome, head over to the BG-Gear Store and grab the files that interest you.

Elevations are approximate.  Waypoints with no elevation data will display NaN in place of the elevation.

For information about my waypoint naming convention and map symbols, refer to the Glossary page.

Notes for GPS information:
BEFORE
entering coordinates from this website, please ensure your system (GPS or mapping software) is set to the same datum used here.  Waypoint coordinates are listed with WGS84 datum and in Lat/Lon hddd.ddddd° format.  Entering coordinate information with inconsistent datum's can result in the waypoints being off by hundreds of feet.  It is important to keep this in mind when entering waypoints from any source.

Telephone (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. cWstRmBridge          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.28598   W -112.95582        Elev: 5,590 Feet
    A bridge allowing the trail to cross a stream.
  6. jTelphnCynTrl2          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.28674   W -112.96846        Elev: 6,740 Feet
    Junction where the Telephone Canyon trail and the Cabin Springs trail both meet the West Rim Trail.
  7. sCabinSpng          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.28756   W -112.96841        Elev: 6,706 Feet
    Cabin Spring. Seasonal Water filtering source.
  8. jTelephonAprTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.29258   W -112.96912        Elev: 6,765 Feet
    Leave the Telephone Canyon trail here and head 324 feet east (°66) to get to the head of Telephone Canyon.
  9. yTelephoneTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.29295   W -112.96810        Elev: 6,655 Feet
    Top entry of Telephone Canyon. Rap 1 is from here with rap 2 just below. Rap 2 is the longest rap in the canyon at 160 feet.
Telephone (2) - The Canyon
  1. yTelephoneTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.29295   W -112.96810        Elev: 6,655 Feet
    Top entry of Telephone Canyon. Rap 1 is from here with rap 2 just below. Rap 2 is the longest rap in the canyon at 160 feet.
  2. dTelephoneR07          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.29166   W -112.96740        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 7 - Telephone Canyon. Anchored from a tree RDC and drops about 40 feet.
  3. dTelephoneR12          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.29066   W -112.96629        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 12 -Telephone Canyon (last rap). Anchored RDC from bolt and hangers and drops about 60 feet.
  4. yTelephoneBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.29153   W -112.96508        Elev: 5,920 Feet
    Bottom exit of Telephone Canyon. Follow the natural contour of the slick rock to the south and find your way back to the West Rim Trail.
Telephone (3) - Exit
  1. yTelephoneBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.29153   W -112.96508        Elev: 5,920 Feet
    Bottom exit of Telephone Canyon. Follow the natural contour of the slick rock to the south and find your way back to the West Rim Trail.
  2. jTelephonAprBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.28680   W -112.96032        Elev: 5,740 Feet
    Back on West Rim trail after exiting Telephone Canyon.
  3. cWstRmBridge          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.28598   W -112.95582        Elev: 5,590 Feet
    A bridge allowing the trail to cross a stream.
  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. 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.
  6. tAngleLnd          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.25998   W -112.95152        Elev: 4,300 Feet
    Angel's Landing Trailhead.
  7. 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.