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Telephone Canyon - Zion National Park

Summary: A long steep hike (2400' elevation gain) to a short technical canyon with many rappels. To complete this canyon you will need: good map reading skills, a compass or gps, 2 x 60m ropes, harness w/ descending gear, webbing, helmet and permit from the Zion Backcountry Office. This canyon is normally dry, though there may be a few easily avoidable pools.
Directions: From within Zion National Park, take the park shuttle to the Grotto Picnic Area. The West Rim Trail begins across the street at the bridge across the Virgin River.
Road Conditions: Passenger Car - paved all the way
Navigation: Moderate
Length: 7.7 miles, 8-10 hours
Date Hiked: September, 2002
Weather Conditions: Nice with brief showers
Required Skills:
Hike Description: Your journey begins on the West Rim Trail. Climb all the way to the junction with the right branching Angel's Landing Trail. Stay left and continue climbing the West Rim Trail. The path tops out, then drops down to cross the bridge over Refrigerator Canyon then continues climbing steeply up past Behunin Canyon to the junction with the Telephone Canyon Route. At this signed junction the West Rim Spring lies 100 yards down on the right (just a trickle when the author was here), the West Rim Trail to Lava Point heads to the left, the Telephone Canyon Route continues straight (there are also 2 campsites in this area). Stay straight on the Telephone Canyon Trail past campsite #1 and walk for 10 minutes to gps point 325494mE 4129074mN. Turn right into the burned out forest and walk to the head of Telephone Canyon at gps point 325549mE 4129213mN. The canyon is only about 1/4 mile long, but it is one rappel after another. You will be performing several double raps off of the same anchor, so make sure someone in your group identifies the next drop and anchor before you pull your ropes. The canyon is not terribly deep or narrow, but there are some nice enough sections. Here's the low down on the rappels:
Rap #1: 30' to a debris strewn shelf using a burned tree at the head of the canyon
Rap #2: 100' (watch the debris!) to the edge of a pot hole and shelf, then 20' to the bottom, use the prominent tree near the edge as your anchor
Rap #3: 50' from 2 bolts and hangers (b&h) on the left 
Rap #4: 2 b&h on the left, rap 35' then walk a short hall way & rap 15' into a narrow sideways slanting hallway
Rap #5: use the tree stump wedged in the slanting hall to rap a steep 70' slope
Rap #6: 2 b&h on the right, mostly vertical 70' drop
Rap #7: use an old log to rap 40' to a shelf next to a pot hole
Rap #8: double rappel from a tree on the right a little ways back from the edge, drop 20' walk a short ways then rap 15' (could also rig the second drop from a chockstone)
Rap #9: double rappel from a sling around the big choke stone on the right, 15' drop then 35'
Rap #10: 15' drop, don't remember the anchor
Rap #11: double rappel from a dead tree on the right, 30' then 10'
Rap #12: use the choke stone to rap 25'
Rap #13: last one! 2 b&h on the right will allow you to rap 60' down the breakdown to the canyon bottom
Pick up the faint use trail on the right and follow the canyon around and out. Pick a route across the slick rock heading south until you run into the West Rim Trail. Follow the trail all the way down to the Grotto, the shuttle and your car.
Rating (1-5 stars):
If you like to hike and like to rappel, then this is the canyon for you - it's got lots of both. The canyon is not particularly pretty, but there are some good photo opportunities. The author, his wife and two friends completed this canyon at a leisurely pace in ~10 hours.
Maps: Trails Illustrated - Zion National Park, Zion N.P. Park Map
Books: None
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
Rappel.... after rappel.... ......after rappel.