Full Day Advanced Canyoneering Trip – Cedar Mesa Canyons
Our Full Day “advanced” canyoneering routes require physical exertion and stamina. These trips are a lot of fun for people who enjoy being active outside for a good part of the day, getting a full-body workout and pushing their own limits either physically or mentally.
Cedar Mesa Canyons are remote, very deep, and mind-blowing. These canyons drain an area of hundreds of square miles upstream of our descent routes. As a result, sections of these beautifully fluted canyons trap pockets of deep water. Thus, mandatory items are wetsuits, dry bags and a healthy sense of adventure!
Each of these canyons have their own distinct personalities. We can pick and choose which canyons to descend depending on your group’s abilities and desires. Long swims in deep dark canyons (Black Hole of White Canyon, Cheese Box, Gravel) or shorter ones with multiple rappels and only short swims (Duckett Slot), or spectacular pools with visits to ancient ruins (Fry Canyon).
Undoubtedly, the Black Hole section of White Canyon is Southeastern Utah’s deepest slot canyon. While it doesn’t have the gravitational pull to consume massive stellar objects, it does have the ability blow peoples minds with its stunning depth, lengthy cold-water swims and tremendous beauty.
Getting to the bottom of White Canyon is the first challenge since one must descend nearly 500ft down to the floor of this boulder and gravel strewn canyon. Negotiating the mogul field of giant SUV sized boulders is another of the challenges that is part and parcel in the approach to the Black Hole. In all but the driest years one will have already waded, swam, dog-paddled, crawled, scrambled and been lowered over the massive fluted and varnished iron black boulders and bedrock.
As the canyon deepens and constricts, log jams appear nearly 100ft overhead, more evidence of how the power of water, rock and gravity have sculpted, caressed and devastated the canyon walls creating a multitude of natural cathedrals of epic proportions.
Ideal for the summer months when the temperatures are between 90-110ºF, you’ll wonder why on earth you’re carrying a black wetsuit, but don’t chuck it yet – you will definitely need it.
As the walls close in and the air temperature turns chilly, we arrive where boulders block the passage and a 10ft drop signifies the start of the serious fun. Shouts and squeals of brisk delight usually punctuate the start of the swimming – but wait. You must detach from the rope while floating before swimming towards the twisting corridors!
Depending on water levels, gravel bars appear – one can get out of the water and watch in giddy humor as the rest of your party figures out the best way to climb in and out of all the pools that comprise the depths of the Black Hole portion of White Canyon.
Soon the canyon begins to open and the pools begin to warm. Natural swimming pools are passed, beckoning a jump and a plunge in order to rewet the wetsuit since we are now seeing sections of full sun. Words fail to describe the sensational feeling of playfulness one feels from physically engaging one of Mother Natures’ most impressive and ancient creations!
Cheese Box, Gravel Canyon, Duckett, and more…
Cedar Mesa is the immense shelf that juts off the southwest side of the Abajo Mountains 100 miles south of Moab. It is also the name of the geologic layer that is thickest and most prevalent in this area. Over 600 ft deep, this layer has been stripped, chiseled, and scoured to expose the ancient red and white banded coastal sand dunes that lithified into a very dense and handsome sandstone.
It is here where these remote canyons provide the experienced canyoneer an athletic and deeply gratifying challenge. Like the Black Hole these canyons get deep and dark in sections and usually have long swims through chilly water with stupefying beauty.
By having adequate preparation, proper leadership, tools and skills, the challenges in these canyons fall to group problem-solving in the most stunning classroom imaginable. More remote and rope-intensive than the Black Hole, with more demanding route-finding, these canyons are perfect for people who are athletic and enjoy long, strenuous days in a wondrous and isolated landscape!
Duration: up to 10 hours, depending on canyon and conditions
Drive from Moab: approximately 2.5 hours
Season: May – October
Technical: steep hiking, scrambling, boulder hopping, tight narrows, cold swims up to 100ft, short rappels to 70ft (some into water) and/or rope-assisted down climbs.
Skill & Fitness Level
Intermediate canyoneering skill levels
Previous canyoneering or other forms of endurance athletic experience recommended
Moderate to advanced athletic skill levels
Must be able to travel through long canyon systems with large obstacles requiring stemming, chimneying, scrambling and advanced hiking on steep grades
Must be able to swim long distances through narrow corridors while carrying a wet backpack
Minimum age: 10 (anyone smaller than a size X must supply their own wetsuit)
Children must be mature enough to use reason and logic to mitigate their instinctual fear of backing over a cliff edge and also weigh enough (around 50lbs.) to counter the mass of the rope they’ll need to push through their rappel device.
What to Bring
Lunch & snacks
All of the technical gear you will need for canyoneering
Wetsuits, if deemed necessary
Rental canyoneering shoes with extra-sticky rubber for gripping the rock and quick-draining material for your comfort. See Pricing
Transportation from our office to the route and back to our office
What you should wear
Shoes with a soft, flexible sole, such as running shoes or lightweight hiking shoes that you are comfortable possibly getting wet or dirty
No open-toed sandals, please
Clothes that are light-weight and loose fitting so to allow you flexibility and freedom of movement
Clothes that are suitable for the season
No cotton jeans or sweatshirts
Other items we recommend that you bring
A long sleeve, quick-drying shirt to use to warm up after swims
Extra dry clothes may also be necessary depending on the temperature that day
Light long-sleeve shirt (for sun protection)
Light rain gear
Extra snacks if you get really hungry, are a growing teenager, or have dietary restrictions or allergies
Please be at our office at least at least 15 minutes before departurefor check-in, earlier if your trip will require you to use one of our wetsuits.
We can also arrange to meet your party in Blanding (if coming from Colorado) or Hanksville, to accommodate your travel itinerary. Departure time is flexible. please call our office for details, 435-259-3317 or 1-877-641-5271
If your group only has 2 people and no other party gets added, then we will contact you and give you the option of
1) paying the 2-person price listed below,
2) changing the departure date or time of your trip to join another group, or
3) receiving a full refund.
$220 / person for group of 5+
$250 / person for group of 4
$295 / person for group of 3
$395 / person for group of 2
Private or Chartered Guide $45 / person added to your cost ensures that no one else will join your party, providing your group with more time for discussion and one-on-one instruction from our professional guides who specialize in the safest climbing/canyoneering techniques as well as the local natural history, geology, flora, and fauna.
Canyoneering Shoes Sizes and availability are limited.
3/4 or Full Day Wet Canyon Trips: $8
Because a reservation guarantees space on a trip, we sometimes have to turn others away for those same dates. Thus, cancellations must be made at least two weeks prior to the trip dates in order to receive a full refund of the reservation deposit. Any cancellations made after the two-week cut off and up to 48 hours before the trip will forfeit the $20 per person deposit. To cover our costs, we must charge the full trip amount for any cancellations made less-than 48 hours before the trip.
We will refund your entire trip amount if we must make a cancellation due to adverse weather. Please be aware that weather cancellations are made only by our guides, based on how climbing and canyoneering conditions are affected.