Upper Neon Canyon (conditions)

Tater Head

Hoo are you looking at?
Jan 29, 2014
I'm planning a trip to Escalante on 10/22-10/25. We are aiming to hit the Zebra Slot, Willow Gulch/Broken Bow Arch and do the rappel into Neon Canyon... I was wondering if anyone knew what the condition of upper Neon Canyon is? Are the keepers fully submerged and are now swimmers? There will be six in our group and couple of them don't have wet suits... I'm not sure what the water temperature is this time of year. I wouldn't think twice about it if it were a 100° outside but a high of 75°? Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks, Matt


Aug 9, 2007
I definitely do not know first hand, but I do know that that area recently flooded, which means the canyon should be quite wet. More wet weather coming, plus cool temps, means that if it were me, I'd feel good about the prospect of not encountering the infamous keeper potholes.

With that said, wet suits this time of year (or all year?) are ABSOLUTELY MANDATORY. Seriously, if they don't have wetsuits, DO NOT GO. October is not time to mess around with cold water anywhere, much less in a canyon like Neon where practically the entire thing is water. Here's my experience there in late October 2012 right after some serious flooding: http://backcountrypost.com/threads/neon-canyon.1505/

One more thing... when you say 'upper Neon', I think a lot of folks might think you're going for the full canyon. Lower Neon into the cathedral, aka the 'sport route' is what I did. It's still a solid technical canyon that is way more serious than the rap into the Golden Cathedral alone. I think you're just talking about the lower sport section though. Correct me if I'm wrong. If you're going for more than the sport route, my 'ABSOLUTELY MANDATORY' part should just increase in font size and boldness. Also, there should be some seriously competent leadership. Given the risks from the keepers, even the lower section of Neon is several notches up from being beginner-friendly, IMO.

Tater Head

Hoo are you looking at?
Jan 29, 2014
Yout right it is the sport route. I should have been more clear. I'm confident with my rope skills but the keepers do have me a little nervous. I just picked up a Black Dimond Alpine Aider for a little extra help pulling out some of our group. Wet suits in my mind are a must as well. My son and I won't be going without one but there are a couple folks in our group that aren't on the same page. There argument is that they did Ding and Dang canyon once and it was pretty wet and they came out just fine (I'm rolling my eyes right now). Maybe I should get some new hiking partners :). Do you know of any outfitters in Escalante that rent wet/dry suits? If not we will just hike in and save the rap for next year when they can be a little more prepared... Thanks for the heads up...
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