The quintessential Zion Canyon: soaring narrows, deep, icy pools, and big, spicy drops. Halfway through, you’ll enter the Great Cathedral, one of the most unique and picturesque features in all of canyoneering.

Disclaimer: Canyoneering is a dangerous and technical activity. Don’t enter any canyon without the skills to match it, or the knowledge to navigate it.

Pine Creek requires a canyoneering permit that can be reserved online and picked up at the Zion Visitor Center. Be sure to reserve your permit 3 months in advance as Pine Creek typically sells out every day in the summer. Why does it sell out? Because it’s one of the best canyoneering adventures in the park.

As you pick up your permit, the ranger will ask you about wetsuits. These are mandatory. There are constant swims through frigid water deep in the canyon. I recommend a 4mm wetsuit or thicker.

Leave a vehicle at the second switchback on your drive up to the Mount Carmel Tunnel. This is where you’ll climb out of the river at the end of the adventure.

The approach to the canyon is about as easy as possible. Parking is located right at the east entrance to the Mount Carmel Tunnel on the south side of the road. Gear up here, including wet suits, and then drop into the canyon using a faint trail to the south. You’ll walk under the bridge and begin rappelling within a hundred yards.

Stay in the bottom of the canyon and enjoy seven rappels, numerous swims and unbelievably dark narrows. Halfway through, you’ll enter the Great Cathedral, a 70-foot, cone-shaped cavity, carved from sandstone. You’ll rappel into the pool at the bottom and exit the double archway. Incredible!

The technical section of Pine Creek parallels the tunnel and ends with a 100-foot free-fall rappel into a spring-fed grotto. It’s the perfect grand finale. Follow the watercourse from here for about a mile, boulder-hopping and looking for wildlife. The trail ends at a fun, little swimming hole where you can wash off and chill for a while. A short scamper up to the road and you’re at your vehicle.

The entire adventure will take 3-6 hours.

Pack List

  • Permit
  • Wet suit (recommend 4mm or thicker)
  • Static rope (longest rappel = 100 feet)
  • Webbing and rapid links (in case you need to set a new anchor)
  • Harness
  • Rappelling device
  • Locking carabiners
  • Helmet
  • Gloves
  • Food
  • Water
  • Backpack
Show More
RT Distance 1.5 Miles
Elevation Gain -300 Feet
Activities Photography, Hiking, Rock Climbing
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Point-to-Point
Features
Groups
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildlife
Cliff Jumping
Swimming Hole

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