Utah Canyoneering
Rescue Skills and Instruction
route escapes • anchor systems • self-rescue techniques • map and compass • equipment usage • outdoor skills
Utah Canyoneering guides, instruction, moab escalante utah canyoneering courses, canyoneering rescue skills, utah canyoneering, southwest canyoneering

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 (located 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 smaller in size than our competitors allowing for more personalized instruction, 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.

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.

Our instructors have National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI-WFR) and/or American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA), Professional Climbing Guides Institue (PCGI), Swift Water Rescue, and Leave No Trace (LNT) certification. Our instructors have a minimum of ten years of canyoneering and rock climbing experience coupled with a high level of certification and outdoor education, make them some of the best guides in the business!

We have 25 years of hands-on experience in 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.”

Humankind has often looked to the skies for answers, buy when was the last time you, personally, got a good look at the stars? On some of our canyoneering courses and adventure trips we will be breaking out the telescopes in the evening for you to view close-up some of the planets, their moons, star clusters and nebula. Who knows, you might just get to experience a celestial event while at our base camp!

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. The canyoneering area is different to other drainages hereabouts as it contains a permanent stream, bordered by reeds, bamboo, oak and cottonwood trees for 2 miles, as far as the source of the water at a series of springs. The creek forms pools, cascades and smooth channels where the water flows over exposed, thin-bedded sandstone, and a faint path leads along for a mile or so, starting at a recently improved rest/recreation area beside UT 95.

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, stoppers and hexes, PIKA hooks, accessory cord and webbing. We usually use a Blue Water 9.2mm static rope for rappelling and rope ascension.

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, compass and GPS units. Backpacks, pants and harnesses take the main brunt and punishment of a canyoneering course.

We usually use either the 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. Channeled, air-mesh back pads ensure comfort and breathability. The sternum strap ensures rock solid stability in the slot canyons.

• PVC Tarpaulin fabric is tough, durable and long-lasting
• Sonically welded seams ensure true waterproof integrity
• Strategically placed D-rings, handles and webbing straps

Or buy a used Lowe Alpine climbing pack on ebay (20L - 40L), modify them for canyoneering (add drains, duct tape) and add a dry sack to it.

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. 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).

I could also go over wet suits and everything neoprene, but will fill you in with an email. Black Diamond Alpine Bod and Vario Speed harnesses also work well - try and find a good used one on ebay because it will also get hammered and shreaded by the desert sandstone. 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.

In the North Wash area where we hold most of our canyoneering courses, the steep, sepia scenery is breathtaking, with the greenery around the stream contrasting with the red, multilayered cliffs of Wingate and Kayenta sandstone that rise up to 800 feet above, though most of the canyon is wide, and the creek is enclosed by sandbanks and benches that in places provide an easier route for hiking. In the upper end of the canyon, however, the drainage splits into three forks, just as the ravine reaches the slot-forming Navajo sandstone, and each has typical North Wash-area features of pools, chokestones and tight narrows that angle upwards quite steeply.

Like most such slots the passageways can only be explored fully if starting from the top, via a combination of downclimbing and rappelling, but as usual some can be seen without any equipment if entering from below.

The skills you learn will help you negotiate these labyrinths to the fullest.

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 very good to excellent 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

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



..Canyoneering Courses (Class 2 - 4 Ratings/Grade I - IV):
..Beginner 2-Day Course $515* per person (Private instruction add $100 pp - minimum three-people)
..Intermediate 3-Day Course $595* per person (Private instruction add $100 pp - minimum two-people)
..Technical 4-Day Course $695* per person (Private instruction add $100 pp - minimum two-people)
..*additional $25 gear fee*** refundable at end of course (Intermediate and Technical Courses only)
..**Camping and Meals Package's available:
..Includes rental camping gear ($45 per day) and all meals ($35 per day).

..Canyoneering/Climbing Adventure Trips (all inclusive - base camp setting)
..includes climbing, canyoneering and camping equipment (tent, sleeping bag, cooked meals,
..beverages, etc.). Prices below are for a minimum of two people - One person private is an additional $75 per day.
..3-day Canyoneering/Climbing Adventure Package $890 per person - minimum two people
..4-day Canyoneering/Climbing Adventure Package $1050 per person - minimum two people
..5-day Canyoneering/Climbing Adventure Package $1250 per person - minimum two people

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

..See Schedule Below

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

..REI Members $10 Off / Bring-A-Friend $25 Off** (group discounts available on private courses)*

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

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

..Location .
Call Us for Map - North Wash near Hanksville, Utah

..8:30 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 with a thorough review prior

..Rating to
..Course Info
..Pre-Course information materials will be emailed
..to participants within 14-days of course starting date.
..***Bring-A-Friend $50 Off** discount is for only one member of your group ($45 if private course)

Please call us if the dates below do not work with your schedule


..beginner – 24 & 25
..intermediate – 24 - 26
..technical – 24 - 27
..canyoneering/climbing adventure – 24 - 27


..beginner – 11 & 12
..intermediate – 11 - 13
..technical – 11 - 14
..canyoneering/climbing adventure – 28 - 30/31


..beginner – 14 & 15
..intermediate – 14 - 16
..technical – 14 - 17
..canyoneering/climbing adventure – n/a


..beginner – 15 & 16
..intermediate – 15 - 17, 25 -27
..technical – 15 - 18, 25 - 28
..canyoneering/climbing adventure – 15 - 17/19


..beginner – 19 & 20
..intermediate – 19 - 21
..technical – 19 - 22, 28 - 31
..canyoneering/climbing adventure – 15 - 17/18


..beginner – 26 & 27
..intermediate – 26 - 28
..technical – 26 - 29
..canyoneering/climbing adventure – 26 - 28/29


..beginner – 16 & 17
..intermediate – 1 - 3, 16 - 18, 22 - 24
..technical – 1 - 4, 16 - 19, 22 - 25
..canyoneering/climbing adventure – 11 - 14/15


..beginner – 13 & 14
..intermediate – 13 - 15
..technical – 13 - 16
..canyoneering/climbing adventure – 13 - 16/18


..beginner – 22 & 21
..intermediate – 2 - 4, 22 - 24
..technical – 2 - 5, 19 - 22 - 25
..canyoneering/climbing adventure – 7 - 9/11


..beginner – 16 - 17
..intermediate – 16 - 18
..technical – 16 - 19
..canyoneering/climbing adventure – 14-19


..beginner – 16 & 17
..intermediate – 16 - 18
..technical – 16 -19
..canyoneering/climbing adventure – 16 - 18/19


..beginner – 5 & 6
..intermediate – 5 - 7
..technical – 5 - 8
..canyoneering/climbing adventure – 5 - 7/8

* Discounts only apply to scheduled courses on our calendar.

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.

course cancellations
While it is unlikely, if the Arizona Climbing and Adventure School cancels a course due to insufficient reservations or conditions beyond our control (weather, etc.); alternate dates or refunds will be given as preferred. If you cancel within 14 days prior to your session, rescheduling your course can be expected. There are no refunds on gift certificates. If you fail to show at the designated meeting place at the appointed time you will be charged for the course - there are no exceptions. If you would like to reschedule within 21 days of the course's starting date, you may do so. To receive a full monetary refund (minus a 20% handling fee), 31 days notice is required (expect a refund within 2 billing cycles or 60-days of your course date). You may also want to purchase travel insurance due to cancellations – click here for more information.

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).