OverviewAs technical canyons go, Echo is considered to be fairly easy. Even though the canyon is bolted and considered fairly easy, don’t get the wrong idea that this canyon is for the inexperienced. It would be foolhardy for anyone to try and descend Echo Canyon without the proper skills.
This canyon is highly recommended for those that have the proper skills needed, but whom are not ready for challenging canyons elsewhere in Zion or on the Colorado Plateau. At a minimum every member of the group should be well versed in rope skills used by rock climbers/canyoneers and especially in rappelling.
Even though the canyon isn't very technical, this is still a beautiful route. Highlights include an interesting narrows, high walls, and cold pools.
In any case, the canyon should not be underestimated. The canyon has a reputation for having some of the coldest water in Zion and snow and ice can persist in the canyon until June. There is one pothole that can be difficult to exit at times, so it is highly recommended that you don't go alone.
Once you acquire the proper skills, Echo is a good first technical canyon and it will give some good practice to inexperienced canyoneers. It is also a pleasant and enjoyable romp of a few hours for more experienced or intermediate canyoneers.
Getting ThereThe canyon is accessed through the shuttle bus system. This makes access very easy.
Because you must ride the shuttle bus system in the only season that is practical to descend Echo Canyon, detailed directions are not needed.
From the Springdale or the Zion Visitor Center (or any other shuttle stop in Zion Canyon), simply take the shuttle bus to Weeping Rock. The hike to the head of the Middle Echo Canyon begins here.
Routes OverviewThe standard route to do the Middle Echo Slot canyon begins at Weeping Rock. The route goes up the Observation Point/East Rim Trail to Echo Canyon. The route then follows the Observation Point Trail out of Echo Canyon and follows its left (north) rim. From there you will take the Echo Canyon Trail and drop into the canyon. The canyon requires several downclimbs or rappels up to 20 feet and requires swimming several pools. See the ROUTE PAGE for more details.
The section of Echo Canyon below standard route this (Lower Echo Slot) is said to be the best section of Echo Canyon, but it’s a lot of work since you will have to jug all the way out the same way. The reason is that it is illegal to do the 300+ foot rappel over the tourist trail at Weeping Rock.
The lower end of Middle Echo Slot can be visited without any rope skills. If you don’t have rope skills, follow the standard approach to where the Observation Point Trail crossed Echo Canyon and follow the canyon as far up as you can.
Echo Canyon and Mystery Canyon combo
Since both canyons share the same trailheads and part of the access route, you can do both Echo and Mystery Canyons together in one day. If you are feeling stong and have a full day, this is the recommended option to take. See the Mystery Canyon page.
Clean Canyoneering EthicsSince this is a popular canyon, no additional bolting should be required, but if you do bolt, please do so only replace existing anchors in the canyon. Also, please use black webbing only if you replace any webbing in canyons.
Red TapePermits are required to descend Echo Canyon. Due to the extreme popularity of the canyon, it would be wise to get a permit in advance. Below is the site to get advanced reservations:
Here are the regulations from the National Park Service:
Reservations are available for Echo Canyon. They are also available for a wide variety of additional areas. Reservations can be made up to 3 months prior to your trip date.
A reservation is different from a permit. You will need to go into the Zion Canyon or the Kolob Canyon Visitor Center the day before or the day of your trip to pick up your permit and check the most current weather conditions.
CampingThis is a day trip only and no camping is allowed. Most parties take 3-5 hours to complete the route.
SeasonsMay through mid-October is the normal canyoneering season for Echo. June through August can be very hot on the approach, but it’s usually not bad if you hit it in the morning. Once in the slot, the canyon is in the shade and the pools are always very cold. The canyon is said to hold snow well into the spring (sometimes June or even later) and winter and early spring descents are not recommended.
Because of the water, it is always a good idea to take a wetsuit and consider one mandatory in all months. June, July, August, and early September are warmer, but a wetsuit is almost alway required.
Flash floods are a danger in this canyon, especially mid-July through September. Make sure to check current weather forecast at the visitor center backcountry desk.
Note: In heavy snow years (such as 2008), conditions can be very dangerous in Echo Canyon due to snow well into June. Make sure to enquire with the park service if going before July.
Canyon ConditionsWeather Forecast for Zion Canyon:
Weather and climate data for the Zion Canyon, elevation 4050 feet. *National Weather Service Data 1918-2007.
Keep in mind that at the head of the canyon, it will be cooler. In the lower end of the canyon, all the water around makes hot weather pleasant. The middle sections of the canyon can be quite hot.
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