route escapes • anchor systems • self-rescue techniques • map and compass • equipment usage • outdoor skills

One of the best kept secrets of the Utah desert lies in the deep, narrow canyons carved into the rock by eons of rain and flash-floods.

Called "slot-canyons", they are passageways into the seldom explored desert, figuratively and literally, narrow slices in the rock sometimes so high the cobalt sky looks like a fine thread in a world of red and sepia colored rock. The landscapes surrounding these canyons are exotic and timeless but there can be an element of risk traversing this unique topography (flash floods, deep water potholes, severe weather, etc.).

Our Utah based canyoneering courses (we guide and instruct in the North Wash area south of Hanksville), are perfect for individuals who are looking to go beyond hiking or backpacking and learn new skills as well as safety protocols (assessing dangers - weather conditions, loose rock, poor anchors, equipment failure, etc.) and to expand their scope of exploration and increasing their knowledge of outdoor skills and safety. Our classes are kept small in size allowing for more personalized instruction and more time actually "doing" the skills we teach. This factor not only makes for a higher learning curve and a curriculum that has more flexibility, buts adds to the overall fun factor of canyoneering.

These canyons are part of a fragile desert ecosystem, so minimum use by very small groups is essential to maintain their beauty, balance and longevity.

The most asked question we get is:
Q. Can I take the Intermediate or Technical Canyoneering course if I'm just a beginner or have no experience?
A. Yes you can - All courses start with the fundamentals of canyoneering on the first day. Each day is a progression into more skill sets, learning and practice - so if you take the 4-day Technical Canyoneering course, by day four you'll have the skills and confidence to take on some rather challenging canyons. Our job is to make you competent in these difficult and potentially dangerous environments.

Our canyoneering courses are a blend of rock climbing, rappelling, anchor systems, map/compass reading, escape routing in case of flash floods, wilderness skills and self-rescue training methods.

The majority of our instructors have a combination of National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI-WFR) and/or American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA), Professional Climbing Guides Institute (PCGI), Swift Water Rescue, American Canyoneering Association (ACA) and Leave No Trace (LNT) certification. Our instructors have a minimum of eight years of instructing canyoneering and rock climbing courses. Along with their high level of certification and outdoor educational background, make them some of the best guides in the business!

We have 25 years of hands-on experience in multi-pitch climbing, canyoneering, rope/self-rescue and wilderness skills - a client base of over 14,000 students and a perfect safety record. You can expect to receive the best canyoneering skill set and training available in the Southwest!

After completing one of our detailed oriented canyoneering courses, you will be able to enjoy descending into their mysterious and magical depths on your own.

Our Utah Canyoneering Courses are not only in a remote and unique geological area but also host some of the darkest night sky's on the planet! Granted, the daytime landscapes are particularly fetching, but the night sky? “Amazing,” Grand Junction, Colo., geologist and astrophotographer Terry Acomb says. “There is a tremendous contrast between the bright night sky of stars and the dark canyon walls…it’s just beautiful out there.”

Just how dark is it? “It’s the only Bortle class 2 sky they’ve documented,” said Chris Luginbuhl of the U.S. Naval Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona., and a board member of the International Dark-Sky Association. “In plain English that means it’s the darkest or starriest sky they’ve seen while doing these reviews. The Bortle system is a 10-level scale with one and two being the darkest skies and 10 having the most light pollution.”

What is Canyoneering?
Canyoneering is the exploration and descent into hidden, steep sepia colored walled slot canyons. Utah's rugged terrain has a background of towering mountains, vertical mesas, unique ancient petroglyphs and cliff dwellings, and open deserts carved by rivers into deep canyons. Traveling into these abysses require you to use ropes to rappel down in steep sections.

These remote canyons see few visitors, and only by the use of ropes for rappelling and rock scrambling can their narrow passages be navigated. Some sections require team effort. Sometimes you may need to squeeze by or scramble over lodged boulders, navigate deep pot holes or swift moving streams, rappell down waterfalls over 100 feet high. It is generally a day long effort to descend a canyon, but it is an incredible experience that you will never want to forget!

Our job is to give you our best, challenge you mentally and physically, and prepare you to have an amazing experience. Our goal in instructing you is to prepare you to do more canyons on your own. Our instructors have years of professional experience, in rock climbing, mountaineering, ice climbing, wilderness skills and canyoneering in some of those most challenging terrain on the planet. This mixture of outdoor skills have made them extraordinary and unequaled guides in their field!

Our Canyoneering Courses (2, 3 and 4 day - Beginner, Intermediate and Technical) are held in southeastern Utah - inbetween Canyonlands and the Escalante, primarily in the North Wash area. It is also near the upper eastern end of Lake Powell. Base camp is in a wilderness setting with no water, showers or toilets. Bring your own firewood/water, you will need to make your own pit toilet.

Note: Depending on the Course you can expect a wide range of Canyon Grades and Ratings: From Class 2 to 4 Ratings/Grade I to IV.

Above is a photo of just some of the gear we use on our courses. Our equipment is used in a variety of specialized fields that include; rock climbing, mountaineering, rope rescue, water/marine rescue, canyoneering and industrial hard access/confined space environments. We encourage our students to also carry a weatherproof NOAA (S.A.M.E.) weather receiver, SPOT Satellite Messanger or a satellite phone.

Imlay makes a great pothole escape tool - the Potshot, and also a clever anchoring device called the SandTrap. We have also used Imlay's Fiddlestick but with mixed results and we question the overall safety of such a device in the hands of a novice. We use Black Diamond and Petzl harnesses. We also have a wide
assortment of rappelling and ascending devices (you'll soon find which one works the best on our course), Black Diamond camelots, PIKA hooks, accessory cord and webbing. We usually use Blue Water 9.2mm Canyon DS static ropes (with Technora sheath and 100% Dyneema core) for canyoneering.

We do not place permanent anchors/bolts or leave trash, webbing or cordelette behind. We do not use any anchors left behind by other groups unless they are backed up with other anchor systems - Know the risks, take a course!

Other safety equipment includes a complete first aid kit, dry bags, topo maps, NOAA/S.A.M.E weather receiver, UHF/VHF transceivers, Iridium Sat Phone, SPOT, compass and GPS units.

Keep in mind when purchasing gear that backpacks, ropes, pants and harnesses take the main punishment of sandstone canyoneering in Utah.
For packs w
e usually use Lowe Alpine (dry canyons), Rockagator RG-25 or FirstGear Torrent 20L Waterproof backpacks ($65) with air-mesh padded, adjustable ergo backpack straps they provide a secure anchor to your back (wet canyons).

To save some money buy a used Lowe Alpine climbing pack (Storm, Alpine Attack or Vision models) on ebay (20L - 40L), they might be slightly heavier than today's ultra light packs but these can take a beating and you can modify them for wet canyoneering (drains, duct tape, straps) an put a dry bag in it. We also recommend the Black Diamond Bod harness which is cheaper than most harnesses and will also handle the abrasive sandstone better than most out there.

Best pants we've found are the OPS Intergated Battle Pants 3D with removeable rubber knee pads, they do run around $120, but you will look exceptionally awesome in them. Patagonia RPS or Venga Rock pants do exceptionally well during the warmer months. Hiking gloves are also essential, I prefer the part leather and part nylon mesh ones I get at WalMart for $6 - I toss them at the end of a course. As for shoes/boots, call me on that one - so many choices and what you really want isn't even made for canyoneering (the Five Ten Canyoneer 2 has to be the most uncomfortable, stiff and narrow boot I've worn IMO). The blisters they inflict will pop and fill your shoes with body fluids, almost as much as a pair of leaky cross-country running shoes in a pond - Two thumbs down on those). The Five Ten Tennies and Sportiva BoulderX approach shoes work well. If you're going to get your feet wet bring a pair of Teva Universal sandals that you can store in your pack for use when crossing water pools.

. Give us a call if you have any questions about our courses and gear.

We use Marmot Limelight 2p, 3p, 4p and 6-person tents (Expedition Package) which are perfect for the dry desert climate of Southeastern Utah.

These courses are for individuals committed to becoming the safest and most prepared canyoneers possible. Former students remark not only on their newly gained skill sets, but also on their capacity to solve problems in the field quickly, efficiently, and safely. We foster low impact practices, keen leadership skills, and independence.

If you consolidate the best of canyoneering into two days, the Beginner course would be it. A great primer for those wishing to move forward in the sport of canyoneering, and an in-depth preview of our Canyoneering Course syllabus is included at time of sign-up.

Our three and four day (Intermediate and Technical) canyoneering courses are "one of a kind" and offer more skills/training/practice to completely suit your goals and with the most highly experienced staff in the Southwest, you'll be glad you signed up!
See map on right for approximate location.

We highly recommend that you be in good physical condition for any one of our canyoneering courses.

NOTE: We concentrate on building competence in techniques essential to self-guided canyoneering.* With all groups, you will be dealing with a wide variety of students, some have more skills than others and the safety of each person in the course is our primary goal. Your patience with other students in the course who might not be at the same physical or skill level must be considered. If you want to go at your own speed, please take a private course.
Depending on the Course you can expect a wide range of Canyon Grades and Ratings: From Class 2 to 4 Ratings/Grade I to IV. Our courses average 3 to 4 students per course and no more than five students per course with one instructor.

Optional Course
Reading List

Our courses also focus on proper equipment for canyoneering and what has been hyped up and what really works for a lot less money.
Guides certified by the AMGA and IFMGA is the world standard for excellence in rock climbing, mountaineering and canyoneering skills. AMGA and or IFMGA certification is required to operate at most National Parks, US Forest Service and other government and non-government institutes.

Arizona Climbing and Adventure School is a unique opportunity for individuals to experience the spirit, courage and exploration of the Southwest. It is an initiation into the unexpected, a chance to accomplish something very exciting and to discover strengths you never knew you had. Additionally, the Arizona Climbing and Adventure School provides education in wilderness skills and working effectively with others.

To achieve a high learning curve among our students we keep our groups small in size. We consider the impact on the safety and flexibility of the group above all. Everyone knows that large groups and large student-to-instructor ratios are what make money for a guide service. But we feel that groups and ratios compromise the safety, enjoyment and success of individual participants. Better for you and better for us. Having smaller groups also means you receive more attention and guidance from our professionals when you need it the most.

The skills you must learn in order to safely and ecologically negotiate the terrain, climate and altitude in which our courses are offered include:

• safety skills for travel through rigorous terrain.

• how to pack a backpack.

• physical fitness

• competence with map and compass, gps, route selection, navigation.

• rope use and knot tying, bowline, water knot, square knot, clove hitch, half hitch, figure eight

• basic first aid so that every student can handle reasonable emergencies and recognizes and aid in treating illness related to altitude, hypothermia, fatigue.

• rescue preparedness

• rock climbing, belaying, backpacking, canyoneering, rappelling, anchors.

• campcraft including minimum impact camping, ecological considerations, wilderness cooking, food selection and nutrition.

• water purification, hygiene and sanitation.

• care of equipment, ropes, clothing, packs, etc.

• environmental stewardship and Leave No Trace (LNT) techniques.

• safety from storms, flash floods and lightning.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream."
-Samuel Langhorne Clemens

Note: The above course outlines may differ slightly depending on class size, student physical fitness, weather conditions and time allotment.


..Canyoneering Courses (Class 2 - 4 Ratings/Grade I - IV):
..Beginner 2-Day Course $455* per person (Private instruction add $70 pp - minimum three-people)
..Intermediate 3-Day Course $595* per person (Private instruction add $100 pp - minimum two-people)
..Technical 4-Day Course $675* per person (Private instruction add $150 pp - minimum two-people)
..Add an additional full day of comprehensive rock climbing instruction (Technical Courses only) $220 pp
..*No discounts on private courses
..**Camping and Meals Expedition Package's available (see below):
..Rental camping gear ($35 per dayp/p) - Meals ($45 per day p/p) - Group rates available..

..Canyoneering/Climbing Adventure Trips (all inclusive - base camp setting)
..includes climbing, canyoneering and camping equipment (meals, tent, sleeping bag, etc.).
..Prices below are for a minimum of two people - One person private is an additional $75 per day.
..4-day Canyoneering/Climbing Adventure Package $1050 per person - minimum two people/call for dates not listed below
..5-day Canyoneering/Climbing Adventure Package $1250 per person - minimum two people
..6-day Canyoneering/Climbing Adventure Package $1450 per person - minimum two people

..***refundable if our loaner gear is undamaged

.See dates below

..Class Size
..Minimum 2 - Maximum 6 students per Instructor

..REI Members $10 Off / Bring-A-Friend $99 Off** (group discounts on private courses - 3 or more)*

..17 and Over - Under 17 must be accompanied by a parent

..Included (rental harness, helmet, gear**) except daypack.

..Location .
Call us for area maps - North Wash near Hanksville, Utah

..7:00 am - Summer / 9:30 am - Fall /Winter/Spring


..Little or no rock climbing experience, but it is helpful
..You will be required to complete each phase of testing each day in the field

..Rating to
..Course Info
..Syllabus will be emailed.to participants within 14-days of course starting date.
..***Bring-A-Friend discount is for only one member of your group
..Courses vary in size with 4 students or less being the average and 6 students being the maximum per instructor


....Beginner 10th-11th, 17th-18th
....Intermediate 10th-12th
....Technical 10th-13th

....Beginner 10th-11th
....Intermediate 10th-12th
....Technical 10th-13th NOTE: Private course April 14-16

....Beginner 5th-6th
....Intermediate 5th-7th
....Technical 5th-8th

....Beginner 2nd-3rd
....Intermediate 2nd-4th
....Technical 2nd-5th

....Beginner 22nd-23rd
....Intermediate 22nd-24th
....Technical 22nd-25th

....Beginner 14th-15th
....Intermediate 14th-16th
....Technical 14th-17th

....Beginner 11th-12th
....Intermediate 11th-13th
....Technical 11th-14th

....Beginner 2nd-3rd
....Intermediate 2nd-4th
....Technical 2nd-5th

.............Call us if these dates don't work for your group of two or more 480-363-2390

Note: Beginner, Intermediate and Technical Canyoneering Courses are held near Hanksville, Utah (as seen in the movie 127 Hours) and involve either overnight campouts or you can stay at a hotel in Hanksville. Transportation from Scottsdale is available at additional cost. Meals and camping equipment is an additional cost if you don't want to provide your own.

*Wet Canyons: Wet Canyoneering Courses will require wet suits (5mm or thicker) which we do not supply.

*Dry Canyons: Beginner, Intermediate and Technical Canyoneering Courses will not require American Red Cross CPR/Water Safety certification (wetsuits might be required depending on course weather conditions at that time), but expect to get your feet and lower torso wet - List of equipment, instruction coverage and syllabus varies from class to class depending on the specific canyoneering course, weather and learning curve of participating students. A detail course syllabus is available upon request by students participating in the 3 and 4 day Canyoneering courses.

We provide all the necessary technical gear for you or your group, but you will need to provide:
• 4 - 8 quarts of water/person & lunch/snacks per day
• Sunscreen, durable hiking pants (combat with rubber knee pads), shorts, long sleeve shirt
• T-shirt, swim shorts, light fleece jacket (June - Nov)
• Warm clothes/fleece (Oct - May)
• Hat, gloves & rain gear (Oct - May)
• Camera (with waterproof bag)
• Hiking pack (durable top loader with no zippers)
• Wetsuit (April - October - 5mm to 8mm depending on water temps)

Taking the journey into one of our Canyoneering course's will not only prepare you for many years of self-guided canyoneering, but also introduce you to skill sets which are useful in any outdoor adventure. Twenty three years of fine-tuning have produced thousands of graduates with precise attention to detail, hands-on ability with both theory and application, and strong decision-making expertise. Even our beginner level course is comprehensive and empowering. Consider this course an investment toward a lifetime of exploration.

Level of Difficulty - Canyoneering is rated "Challenging"
We rate each of our trips as "Easy", "Moderate", "Challenging" and "Difficult" based on the level of physical ability and prerequisite skills required. This rating system is designed to help you decide which trip is most appropriate. Some trips may be a combination of different activity levels. In these cases we do our best to approximate the general difficulty level for the entire trip. Our trip ratings are subjective and relative to fluctuating environmental conditions as well.

adventure rating chart






most days involve fairly easy travel and easy activity, if required at all.

these trips combine a moderate level of activities for both "off the beaten track" and basecamp exploration

these trips are physically challenging and usually set in remote and rugged wilderness regions. encounters with wildlife, challenging terrain encountered.

these trips involve strenuous activity in remote and rugged terrain and encounters with wildlife, loose footing, extreme weather, etc.

activities and weather

day hikes, 4wd, flat-water kayaking, average weather conditions

trekking. light canyoneering, white water rafting, camping, single pitch rock climbing, moderate weather conditions

backpacking (light loads under 35 pounds), canyoneering, single to multi-pitch rock climbing, cold or hot weather conditions in an arid environment

backpacking (heavy loads over 35 pounds), canyoneering, multi-pitch rock climbing, cold or hot weather conditions in an arid environment


no experience required

some experience required

previous experience often recommended

previous experience strongly recommended and sometimes required



very good



per day

4 - 6 hours

6 - 8 hours

6 - 8 hours

6 - 9 hours


7,000 feet

7,000 feet

6,000 feet

11,000 feet

To sign up for our canyoneer course call or email us to check availability. If a course is open click on the On-line Application Form or go to our application and map (meeting point) site, print out both the Application (PDF), Map and Waiver. Fill out the application and fax or mail it to us (don't fax the waiver, just bring it the day of your course).

Note: *Summer courses start at 6:00 a.m. - October thru April Intermediate courses start at 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 depending upon weather at the designated pick-up point. Call us the day before your course starts to verify start time. Bring your own snacks, lunch, water, sunblock and wear appropriate clothing. Camera (disposable), writing pad and pen are recommended.
*Summer courses - May 1 thru September 30.

Although we spare no effort to assure a safe program, we can assume no responsibility for your safety or loss of personal equipment. In a sport of this nature an element of risk is inherent and beyond human control. A signed release (waiver) will be required of all participants. A parent or guardian release is required for students under the age of 18. These can be obtained in advance by contacting our office or downloading from our website.

Our select staff are certified outdoor guides and have received extensive training from the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), Outward Bound Wilderness (OBW). the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA), Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI), Climb Smart! and Leave No Trace (LNT) or are members and partners of the American Alpine Club, American Safe Climbing Association and Access Fund. They follow strict procedural guidelines and safety protocols set by these institutes and by the Arizona Climbing and Adventure School (ACAS).