Big Water Canyoneering in Kolob Creek

Kolob Creek is one of Zion’s most prized descents, a remote canyon falling off the high plateau near Lava Point. Unlike most of Zion’s technical canyons, Kolob Creek flows year-round, fed by the dammed waters behind Kolob Reservoir. This has a nice side and a nasty one. Nice side: the beauty, music, and magic of a flowing canyon is simply wonderful. Nasty side: it is easy to get in over your head (figuratively and literally) in a flowing canyon, as the hydraulic power of flowing water can be tremendous, deadly, and difficult to predict.

Kolob Creek

Nick Percell Descends the First Drop in Kolob

Due to its high elevation, the descent season for Kolob Creek is relatively small. 5 cfs is the general MAXIMUM recommend CFS for a Kolob descent; finding a time when the flow volume is under this benchmark can be trying. Though snow melt varies tremendously year-to-year, the water volume is usually too high for a safe Kolob descent until at least June. This year, the flow is still dangerous at the beginning of August, an example of how variable snow melt can be. In addition, during dry years, the water district executes regular reservoir releases into Kolob Creek, typically a week at a time. So even when snowmelt has finished, it’s critical to call the water district to check the release schedule.

Tom Jones and Nick Percell recently scouted Kolob Creek to see what things there looked like at 15 cfs (cubic feet per second) – just for fun. Tom posted photos and some interesting tidbits on his website of recent canyoneering adventures, The Latest Rave. Check it out to see Tom & Nick contemplating just how far to go during big water season.

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About Tom

Tom Jones is an inventor, author, entrepreneur, gear tester, photographer, and, first and foremost, a canyoneer, living in the hamlet of Mt. Carmel, Utah, on the east side of Zion National Park. Tom is also a valued member of the ZAC Guide Corps, weaving in numerous training and guiding days amongst his myriad adventures and responsibilities.
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