Often called The Narrow’s little sister, Orderville Canyon is just as (if not more) beautiful, but with an additional technical aspect. It’s one of the easiest technical canyons in the Zion National Park area, but still demands respect. This 12.3-mile slot canyon hike is a good adventure for both beginning and experienced canyoneers, just be sure to bring a short rope (50 feet should be good), a harness and rappel equipment, a helmet and enough water on hot days to get you to the lower, wetter section of the canyon, where you can filter additional water.
You’ll begin at the Orderville corral, following a well-defined trail for about three miles. When you come to a large dry fall, which is a section of earth that has calved from the adjacent cliff, stay left and follow the footpath to the bottom of the canyon. This is where the real adventure starts.
This part of the canyon is mostly open and is home to many trees, and it only occasionally narrows down. The farther you travel, the narrower and more interesting the terrain becomes. Along the way, you will pass several junctions where smaller canyons spill into Orderville.
The first real obstacle to overcome will be a large boulder blocking the canyon, a.k.a. The Boundary Boulder or Border Boulder. Use your short rope and the bolted anchor to the right and rappel or hand-over-hand your way down. The clay soil makes the footing here very slick, so be careful.
After the Boundary Boulder, you will encounter several springs and the beginning of constant water flowing at the foot of the canyon. Your next obstacle is called the Guillotine, and is a huge chockstone suspended above another boulder blocking the canyon. Use the anchor on the left and rappel into the shallow water below.
Shortly after that, you will come to Corkscrew Falls, where yes, another boulder is blocking the canyon. Stay to the right and make your way down the water path while avoiding the v-slot on the boulder’s left side. Below Corkscrew Falls you will encounter a slick downclimb into a pool of water. Your rope will come in handy here, too.
After Corkscrew Falls you will enter the “water park” section of the canyon. Numerous waterfalls, boulders, and lush vegetation turn this segment into a fun obstacle course. Eventually, you will get to a six-foot waterfall known as Veiled Falls. Use the shallow steps that are carved into the rock on the left to pass the falls without incident — many people have been injured by jumping from the falls.
You will encounter a few more down climbs into standing water as you travel through the amazing final section of Orderville Canyon before joining The Narrows proper. At The Narrows, turn left and head downstream for a few miles to arrive at the Temple of Sinawava parking area.
Orderville starts off the North Fork Road, which may be hard to travel when wet. North Fork Road begins a little over two miles east from the East Entrance of Zion. Head north for approximately eleven and a half miles to the Orderville Canyon ORV Area parking and the trailhead. A shuttle is required between the beginning trailhead of Orderville Canyon and the end point of Temple of Sinawava.
Orderville Canyon may be hiked year-round, but summer and fall are the most popular seasons to visit. During the winter, snow and ice may make roads impassable, and high water flow levels may close the canyon during the spring. A permit is necessary to hike the canyon, and there are a limited number given out per day. For information on obtaining a permit, visit https://zionpermits.nps.gov or call the Zion National Park Visitor’s Center 435-772-3256. If you are unable to obtain a permit, you can still enjoy part of the hike — start from the Temple of Sinawava and hike into the first obstacle in Orderville Canyon.
Whether you are a beginner or have years of experience, a day trip through Orderville Canyon is a perfect adventure for anyone with the right level of fitness and rope knowledge.
GPS Coordinates: 37.307759, -112.9466076