KSL Outdoors: Canyoneering into Water Canyon

Tonight we travel down to Southern Utah, just outside of Zion National Park which has long been the center of canyoneering in the USA. We are headed into the remote Water Canyon.

(Dean Woods, Owner Zion Rock and Mountain Guides) “We are going to hike oh probably a little over a mile up this canyon. we are going to drop into the middle part of the canyon, that’s where we’ll meet up with a family and they are doing probably around 6-7 rappels today. Should get a little wet, but not too wet, hopefully we’ll warm up a little here.”

Meet Dean Woods. Dean had been climbing around southern Utah for decades and in 2002, he decided to turn his passion into a business when he and his wife created Zion Rock and Mountain Guides.

(Dean Woods, Owner Zion Rock and Mountain Guides) “you know it’s amazing how many people we get from the East Coast that have never been out West and they are just so taken back by the landscape of Southern Utah. That’s really one of the fun sides, showing them all these areas. Where we go the average tourist doesn’t go. So the people that book trips that come to see Zion. Usually they’ll come here for a week or two but they want to do one or two days of unique things other than just in the park So they get to see some pretty amazing places..”

(Dean) “I know people that have never been to Zion, that live in St. George or never get out into this area so that’s pretty amazing.”

(Dean) “This is why it gets it’s name water canyon. It’s always got water flowing on this lower section.”

Dean’s team of guides will take people all over Southern Utah. They guide hikes in the park and take extreme adventurers outside the park on technical canyoneering and climbing treks. A lot of people venture out without a guide, Dean says guides are there to help and educate.

(Dean) the fun part is meeting people, getting out knowing their lives and giving people those experiences that to some degree become life changing for them.

and today we are meeting up with the Singh family from Boston.

(Noopur Rahe Singh) “This is my daughters 16th birthday present and she’s the one who has organized everything. This was an adventure for dad and mom I think. So she set us up to it. (adam) and what do you think so far? (Noopur) “Oh my goodness this has been absolutely fabulous, loved it. And we’ve never gone rock climbing, we’ve never done any of this before so this is fantastic.”

(George Visser, Canyoneering Guide) yeah this is a fun one. so what happens on this rappel is there is a slight overhang. so if you find yourself just hanging in mid-air. just go down, but to avoid hanging in mid-air you can just kick away lightly from the wall. that will keep you from spiraling down. alright so right hand down to your hip. there you go very good. Ok you are all set, you have a rappeller dean. (maggie) belay on.

George is our guide today, his instruction and encouragement helps as we rappel off of this 180 foot cliff. The knot in your stomach as you take that first step is hard to swallow. Don’t look down Ahaana!

(Ahanna) I’ll just kind of walk it. (george) yeah and then lean back. (Ahanna) oh God, oh God.

(Ahaana Singh, Boston Teenager/thrill seeker) I’ve done small hikes before but nothing like, I’ve never done anything like this and I have a small fear of heights, nothing to his extent but I’ve never been really good at rock climbing, stuff like that, so I thought it would be cool to try something like this.

(George) “Good job Ahaana.”

(Ahaana) It wasn’t bad, I was so excited, that was awesome.”

(Ahaana) “This was the big build up. I liked it a lot.

(Adam) how were your nerves on that first rappel? (Noopur) “The first one, terrible. it was awful, but once you get used to it, it’s fun. You want to do more.”

(Dean) “A lot of people just don’t have the skill sets you know. Probably 80% of our clients have never been on a rope, so it’s a good idea that they hire a guide. (adam) lot of squeals I imagine? (dean) oh yeah, and a few people crying. but for the most part they really have fun. There has not been one person that we haven’t gotten down a canyon yet and that’s from a 4 year old, all the way to a 83 year old.”

(Adam tag) Nothing like hanging off the rope, trusting your gear, your guides that they are going to make you safe and these guys definitely make you feel safe. coming up on KSL OUTDOORS, they are not just canyoneers, they do a lot more down here in Southern Utah, we’ll have that in just a second but first tonights quiz question.


(Adam) “This isn’t your cup of tea?” (Jag Singh, Boston, Mass) “oh this is really not my cup of tea. I have a fear of heights out here. this is going to be a challenge for me.”

Free hanging off of a cliff is something everyone should try once in their life. It’s a thrill like non-other, but this is a first for Jag and his family and he’s a bit nervous and who could blame him.

(George Visser, Guide) “and then just keep leaning back and relax your grip, let that rope slide through. Dean has got you good down there. (dean) ok. (george) very good. Focus on keeping those feet flat on the wall. excellent work.”

(Ahanna Singh) “Before he was like, well maybe I’ll just walk down. I was like alright dad. sounds good.”

(George) “This isn’t necessarily a natural thing we are doing. so then we are sort of installing the rappelling app into our brains right now to make ourselves feel comfortable about these ropes holding 6 thousand pounds, this equipment holding several thousand pounds and then just doing a little practice, our brains get used to that. Because our brains are naturally afraid of heights for obvious reasons.”

(Jag Singh, Boston, Mass) “This is extreme outdoors, yeah. (laughs) but a good time. this is a lot of fun.” (adam) “Admittedly, you were a bit nervous?” (jag) “Without a doubt and I’ll admit my daughter that I am afraid of heights. to me it was a challenge to do the rappelling but it was something that I think I conquered that fear to some extent today. I did about seven different rappels and I think they all went pretty good, still here in one piece, just a couple of scratches here and there but it was very good.”

(George) “Generally it’s the head of the household that is the most concerned out here because I think they’ve got a lot of responsibility on their shoulders.” (adam) “but they are in good hands.” (george) “They are in good hands, my hands.”

(George) “so what happens is water is pouring over like this. it gets little pebbles that will just go round and round in a circle like that. that is what makes it deep and things get caught in there. I’ve seen bighorn get caught in these things and they can’t get back out. humans get caught in there too. (adam) it’s called a keeper. (george) “keeper hole.”

(Dean Woods, Owner, Zion Rock and Mountain Guides) “We get into rappels over a couple hundred feet in some of the canyons and we do as moderate where you are simply hiking. so we’ve got the wide range of what people want to see. (adam) test your limits if you want? (dean) exactly.

Zion Rock and Mountain Guides can get you wet, take you on a hike for a half day, even up to three days where on their advanced course you’ll have multiple station rappels and ascents, learn about anchor construction, bolt placement, contingency anchors, everything to keep you safe.

(George) “So we’ve got everyone on belay right here.”

(George) “Cause a lot of little kids when they get scared they let go of the whole system and grab the rope like that. we’ve had situations where people get their hair caught in the device, then we just untie that knot right here. then just lower them down to the ground, we’ve got to have 100 percent control the whole time.”

(Jag) “Yeah I think he showed us the maneuvers, he gave us a fair amount of instruction before we started and then took us through the steps in a dry run before he actually let us loose and then he was there throughout the course in every point and time when I needed a little help he was there.”

(Noopur Singh) “George was great, you’ve got to trust George, the equipment like you said and then just go for it. It was awesome.”

(Maggie Dimarco, Friend of family) “I’m not afraid of heights at all, so this was so cool doing everything. I liked the dangling part, the free falls, cause you just kind of like get to hang there and look around you. so interesting.”

(Maggie) “There really aren’t words to describe what we saw today.”

(Maggie) “It was just the perfect weather, i’ve never seen anything like it before. amazing.” (adam) “You’ve only been here one day?” (maggie) “yeah and it’s already blown my mind. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

(Adam tag) that rappelling, piece of cake, lot of fun out here. If you want to bring your family down, go ahead and look the guys up, they’ve got some really cool opportunity down here in Southern Utah. We’ll put the web address right there on the screen (www.zionrockguides.com). Hey lets head back to Salt Lake to the guys at Fish Tech for tonights Fishing Report.


(Adam) Welcome back to KSL Outdoors, I’m Adam Eakle, back here along the Virgin River just outside of the town of Virgin. You know Zion Rock and Mountain Guides offer much more than extreme canyoneering, how about hitting the trail on two wheels or even four.

(Adam) How many miles out here can you ride?”

(Dean) you could drive hundreds. there is so much Jeep touring that can be done, basically we’ve got dirt roads that head all the way to the Grand Canyon.

Dean started Jeep tours about five years ago. He says people are always looking for a different experience, a different angle of Zions.

(Dean) “Moab has kind of been considered the place to go Jeeping, but you are saying there is a lot of country to cover here?” (dean) “oh we’ve got a lot of country, just look behind me and everywhere around us we’ve got high country jeep tours that take you into the mountains. Jeep tours that will take you to the East side of the park, West side of the park. Some that range from 3 hours to 8 hours. we have a lot of options. We’ll do open Jeep tours up to Bryce. a lot of people will enjoy that, just taking the top down and just driving up to Bryce and getting a tour up there.”

(Dean) “Our tours are somewhat interpretive where the guides give information about the history of the area, the pioneers, the geology. the different aspects about southern Utah.”

(Adam off cam) “Wow what beautiful scenery here. like you said people can’t see this from the main highway.” (dean) “Yeah and it’s a different perspective of Zion. A lot different than what you are going to see in the main canyon or in the tourist areas.”

Jeep tours run from seventy five dollars per person, up to about one hundred and eighty, depending on how long your tour is. Zion Rock and Mountain Guides can take you to some spectacular overlooks, a perfect place to take a picture or just watch the sunset.

And if your looking for something a bit cheaper, say maybe combine your vacation with a workout, how about taking a ride on two wheels.

(Dean) “Oh yeah, we have great biking, we have single track, slick rock. Most of it is within a 20-30 minute drive from here. If you head out of town, towards Virgin, we have a lot of single track out there. the Virgin Rim, The Hurricane Rim, Golds Wash trails. If you head up on the Mesa, you’ve got Gooseberry. then we have a lot of downhill riding and that’s become super popular around here.”

(Dean) “We’ve got comfort bikes to ride up in the canyon. it’s probably a two hour ride up if you take your time. You can lock your bikes up, take a little hike. it’s a better way of seeing the park, than riding around in a shuttle bus.”

Riding a mountain bike or a comfort bike is by far the most personal way to experience the Zion area, and when your done working off a bunch of calories you refuel in Dean’s latest business venture, the Flying Monkey. They have great brick oven pizza’s, sandwiches and more. So when you come down to Springdale, come with an appetite for food and fun.

(Dean) you could spend 4 or 5 days and just in the Zions area and entertain yourself. Between hiking, canyoneering, rock climbing, mountain biking. it’s all here.

Time now to ride on into tonights Utah Field Guide as we get you ready for this years turkey hunts.

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