A ten mile long, slightly technical adventure canyon that ends in a “waterpark”
Orderville Canyon in Zion is a true adventure canyon. Long, beautiful and challenging. Unlike the “Subway” and other of Zion’s famous (and tight) canyons, Orderville naturally allows more people to venture down it and thus getting a permit (for the top-down adventure) isn’t usually a problem (Unlike The Subway where it is on a lottery basis).
There are two different ways to do this adventure: The long and arduous (but very satisfying) Top-down hike and the shorter Bottom-up hike Either way this is a full-day adventure with some scrambling. The Top-down involves two short technical drops requiring rope and equipment.
The easier bottom-up approach starts in The Narrows for two miles and then turns right into the more narrow and technical Orderville Canyon. Orderville has more obstacles than the Narrows and the water level will really dictate how far you can scramble up the canyon before having to turn back. This area is known “the waterpark” for fun water features and short slides (depending on water level). Remember to never jump into pools. Jumping is the number one cause of search and rescue missions in Zion’s Canyon.
For the Top Down hike, start at the top of Orderville Canyon (we used a shuttle service in Springdale to get there) and hike 10 miles to the confluence with The Narrows, then another 2 miles out. Don’t underestimate the 10 mile journey in the sandy-bottomed canyon – it is a long 10 miles.
The Top Down journey has two drop-offs, one 10 feet high and the other 15 feet so you will need at least 30 feet of rope, at least a couple of harnesses and one rock climber or canyoneer that can coordinate getting by these drops. Best way to get kids down is to tie them on and lower them down with an adult below to spot them and untie. I’ve heard that some folks informally hand-over-hand it down the rope in the drops but I can’t recommend this.
In the “rope photo” you can clearly see the two bolts in the wall. You can also barely see some old sling material which we decided not to use. We brought two locking carabiners and you can see we put the rope directly through those. This isn’t 100% technically correct but 100% OK for this. Our son has a harness on and is about to be lowered off. He is kind of scared and doesn’t want to let go of Betsy’s leg, while his sister is bored waiting.
The canyon is a long hike, but most of the length is fairly easy hiking so energetic smaller kids can do it.