Canyoneering is an outdoor sport of exploring a canyon through hiking, swimming, rappelling, and even waterfall jumping. I’ve wanted to go canyoneering for years, so I was determined to go when I went to Moab. I planned to go the day after the Thelma & Louise Half Marathon because I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize my ability to run well. Knowing how clumsy I am, I could very well step on a rock wrong and end up with a sore ankle or something.
In Moab, there’s no end of choices of what you can do or where to do in terms of outdoor adventure. This area of the United States is one of my favorite spots and if it weren’t for the raging furnace that Moab turns into in the months of July and August (120 degrees is not unheard of), I would seriously consider moving here in the future. Even in early June, the weather was quite warm. “But it’s dry heat,” I’m told. Yes, that does make a difference in terms of comfort. A temperature in the 80s in dry heat is tolerable and can even be quite pleasant when paired with a cool drink, but still, it’s warm.
These canyoneering trips require a group and I was going out by myself. A month out, I emailed Herb of Desert Highlights asking if I could join a group and get the group discount. He emailed back, “Charging you full price to join a group would be poor customer service!” When I emailed him, there was no group going out on June 5th, but he kept my name on the schedule and promised to email me back. A few days before I flew out to Moab, a family of four signed up for canyoneering in Entrajo and I was set to go!
It was not an easy decision to do Entrajo Canyon over the other canyoneering trips because each trip had its own magical wonders. One trip included rappelling off an arch. But as I read about each trip, I decided that Entrajo offered the best beginner’s guide to canyoneering. The other trips were less about canyoneering and more spectacular rappelling. I wanted to spend hours hiking and making my way through the tight crevices of the slot canyons. I’m sure I would have had a wonderful time on those trips too, but I was really happy with my experience at Entrajo.
There was about a 45-minute drive to the canyon, which involved some off-roading. The dirt road was in awful condition, so we joked about how we got a free off-road jeep tour on top of our canyoneering trip. I actually did enjoy the bumps and jostles because it made me feel as if I was off on a wild adventure.
We spent the first hour hiking and rock scrambling up a cliff. Once on top, we had an amazing view of the land. Then there was some more hiking. Our guide, Evan, took us on a detour so we could have the opportunity to do some more canyoneering. We entered a series of slot canyons. To make our way through, we had to wade through water (some of it went past my waist – I was the shortest person in our group, so when we were about to enter the deeper pools, everyone joked that I had to swim), slither through tight rock crevices, and climb up, over, and around rocks. Because of the heat, walking through the cool water was quite refreshing. At first I was a bit tentative (knowing full well I had no choice), but once I got my feet and shoes fully wet, well, I stomped through the water with no hesitation.
After we explored that area, we stopped for a short water and snack break. I ate a banana that got slightly smashed in my backpack. Banana never tasted so good. Then we went off again to do more canyoneering and rappelling. Some of the sections of canyoneering with quite technical. Because I don’t exactly have the grace of a nimble mountain goat, I always chose the more cautious way of maneuvering past the obstacles. I did a lot of sliding on my rear, a lot of walking with my hands on the rocks for balance and support, and a lot of guidance and help from Evan. Seriously, that man has the patience of a saint. No matter how awkward, slow, or petrified I was, he was never anything but kind, understanding, and extremely helpful.
The portion of canyoneering that I found the scariest was the section they called “The Chimney.” This chimney was an open-faced chimney, meaning there was a rock face on three sides. The opening was rather wide, so to make your way down, you pressed your back to one wall and placed your feet to the other wall. Then you slowly made your way down by sliding your back and feet down, depending only upon the pressure you place on your back and feet to prevent you from falling down and smashing your brain or breaking your back on the rocks below. Terrifying, no? I was scared, but what choice did I have? With Evan’s ever infinite patience and guidance (and foot when I landed on him), I made my way down.
The two rappels on this trip are on the easier side. The first one can be a little tricky, but it’s only 15 feet down. It’s only a little tricky because there’s a point at which the rock face twists, so it causes the rope to swing you out in a difference direction. The second rappel is 90 feet and off a cliff. It was super cool and a lot of fun.
There was another short hike to our car and our adventure was over. The total trip takes about 5-6 hours and costs just under $100. I had an amazing time and totally recommend canyoneering for any adventurous soul. The level of service and professionalism at Desert Highlights were terrific and please do book them if you decide to do this.