Hidden Gem: Yankee Doodle

Exploring Greater Zion’s Slot Canyons

It’s a well-known spot to locals, but the out-of-town crowd will find this slot canyon to be a real hidden gem. One of the best features of Greater Zion is the slot canyons. Those canyons have spawned a relatively new sport known as canyoneering. It’s one of the most popular features of Zion National Park and each of those canyons requires a permit obtained in advance of your trip. There are other canyons to explore in Greater Zion, though, and they don’t require permits. Yankee Doodle is a great option if you find yourself without a permit.

Man rappelling down smooth cliff
Man rappelling down smooth cliff

Experiencing Greater Zion is all about trying new things and pushing your boundaries a little. That being said, your safety should always be what’s most important. Keep in mind that canyoneering is a skill-based activity that requires the ability to rappel, smear down narrow gaps and scramble under boulders. If you’ve never been canyoneering, it’s highly recommend that you talk with one of the guide companies in the area and experience it that way the first few times. You may also want to go with a friend that knows what they are doing. Play it smart, and play it safe.

Man wedged between two sheer rock faces
Man hiking through tight slot canyon

Yankee Doodle offers a more introductory level experience to canyoneering. It consists of just a couple of rappels – one significant at the beginning and then a couple short ones depending on if you prefer to down climb and smear or rappel.

Man in waist-deep water in slot canyon
Men hiking down slot canyon

It may depend on the time of year and recent weather, but there will most likely also be a few pools of water to traverse. The depth of water can vary from a few inches to over your head. None of the pools will be large enough to necessitate a wetsuit in August, but if you are going to try it in the early spring or late fall, you may want to suit up to stay warm. Even when it’s 110 degrees out, the water in these slot canyons is a refreshing cool temprature.

The slight presence of danger and difficulty is what really makes this canyon so fun. Having your breath taken away as you jump into the freezing water and glide down the rope on a 90-foot rappel will make you feel like you’ve entered a completely new world. On your next trip to Zion country, remember to add a slot canyon or two to your itinerary!

Water-filled slot canyon