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Explore Ringtail Canyon & Neon Canyon in the Escalante Backcountry

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  • A Classic Escalante Canyoneering Destination

    Visit remote and awesome Neon Canyon, a canyoneering and backpacking experience for strong, capable outdoorspersons. While the backpacking route to Neon is not difficult, and the canyon itself is not particularly technical, both the route and the canyon are exceptionally beautiful and rugged, without any civilized amenities to get in the way. Neon's "Golden Cathedral" finish (above) is world-renown, featured in numerous backcountry magazines and equipment advertisements. Come join us on this trip, and that will be you, rapping through that ancient beautiful pothole arch.

    The "price of admission" to this stunning landscape is carrying the equipment and food we need for three days to the canyon, and then carrying it back out. Between the carrying, we live a simple backcountry lifestyle, sharing great food, preparing for adventures, and relaxing togegther at the end of long days. This trip isn't for everyone - some people NEED a shower at day's end - but for those able to let go of civilzed niceties, this trip is an incredible, freeing experience.

    For a fantastic glimpse into our Neon Canyon trip, read Myra Yanke's well-written account of her experience in May 2011.

  • An Exciting Introduction to Wilderness Canyoneering

    We designed this event for proficient backpackers excited to combine their skills with ours to visit extraordinary places reachable only with technical assistance. Backpack/light-packing experience is very, very helpful, as we need to pack in to camp as usual, but we also need technical skills/equipment for the canyon's swims and rappels. In addition to your personal gear, you will also be responsible for packing in a shared portion of group gear. Technical experience is not necessary, but we ask participants to meet the following requirements:

    • You are at least 18 years old
    • You are comfortable swimming in small pools of (yucky) water 
    • You feel comfortable backpacking over rugged, off-trail terrain with a 30-40 lbs. pack (a heavy backpacking load)
    • You are excited about an adventure where unknown and unexpected events will happen

    Exceptions to the above requirements can be managed on a case-by-case basis. Please inquire if you have questions of concerns about Prerequisites.
  • Getting In, Getting Out

    The town of Escalante, Utah, in the center of the state, is on the edge of Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument, a great place for a wilderness adventure to begin. We rendezvous at 7 AM sharp at Escalante Outfitters in Escalante for final prep and gear inspection, then caravan to our ultimate trailhead off the Hole in the Rock Road, south of town. We can ride together in our van, or you may drive your own 4WD, high-clearance vehicle to the trailhead if you wish.

    As an alternative, those coming from Southern California or Las Vegas may want to ride with us from Springdale the evening before our rendezvous. If you prefer this option, plan on meeting at ZAC at 5 PM sharp for gear shakedown and final prep. We will then drive 3 hours to Escalante, where you may rough-camp with us OR check into a hotel (please make reservations ahead of time).

    After the trip, similar options exist: If you drove with us from Springdale, we're happy to bring you back there. If your vehicle is in Escalante, we'll bring you to it. We are flexible for anyone who informs us of their needs well ahead of time.

  • An Approachable, World-Famous Wilderness Canyon

    We depart from Egypt Trailhead at 10 a.m., backpacking to the mouth of Neon Canyon on the Escalante River (2 - 2.5 hours). At the river, we set up camp, then warm up our canyon skills in the nearby dark and sinuous Ringtail Canyon. Ringtail has some very narrow sections to practice stemming and squeezing, plus a couple of keeper potholes to overcome using ingenuity and team-climbing skills.

    On the second day, we rim-hike Neon Canyon and enter as high as group energy allows, descending through seldom-visited spots, past some potential keeper potholes to the Golden Cathedral, and rappel through one of the most wondrous spots on the planet.

    On the third day, visit an ancient rock art to distract us from the strenuous uphill hike back to the Egypt Trailhead. Our target "out time" is 2 PM. 

  • Camping with (Modest) Comfort in Mind

    We camp for two nights in our basecamp along the Escalante River. Since we must pack everything we need in (not too bad) and out (much tougher), we strike a balance between comfort and necessity. ZAC provides tents, kitchen supplies and food for the group. You provide your own shelter, sleeping bag and sleeping pad; we can rent you these items, if desired. Light is Right. 

    Breakfasts and dinners are hot and delicious, cooked up by your guides - backcountry gourmets. Meals are healthy and energy-rich, helping you prepare for the day's adventures.

    We all participate in essential camp tasks; please expect to clean dishes, pump water, and spin yarns to entertain your guides. 

  • Essential Supplies

    You are responsible for packing lightly AND thoroughly. Your supplies should include:

    - 60 - 80-liter backpacking pack that fits you
    - personal hygiene items, like toothbrush and paste, tampons, etc.
    - two to three 1-liter water bottles (NO hydration packs)
    - bug repellant
    - sunscreen, sunglasses, sun hat
    - hiking socks and extra hiking socks
    - rain jacket
    - warm jacket (could get windy and cold at night )
    - quick-dry hiking shorts
    - non-cotton t-shirt or two
    - warm skull cap or thin wool hat for under the helmet
    - non-cotton underwear
    - pertinent allergy meds, insulin, epi-pen, etc., as needed
    - camp shoes (Crocs work very well)
    - light hiking footwear (if not used to 5.10 Canyoneers)
    - headlamp with back-up set of batteries
    - hiking poles (optional)
    - sleeping gear (shelter/tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad)
    - snacks, electrolyte drinks, and personal junk food stash 

    Zion Adventure Company will provide:

    - camp kitchen, including plates, cups, and flatware
    - canyoneering gear (individual and group items)
    - canyoneering shoes and socks for everyone
    - canyoneering packs and drybags
    - drysuits and/or wetsuits, as needed
    - healthy food for all meals

  • The Bottom Line

    Dates for 2014

    April 21-23
    May 19-21
    May 26-28
    September 5-7
    September 15-17
    September 26-28
    October 6-8
    October 11-13
    October 15-17
    October 27-29

    Neon Canyoneering is priced at $895/person, including all meals and snacks, technical gear (including harnesses, devices, helmets, drysuits/wetsuits (seasonally)), group camping equipment (as detailed in "What to Bring"), and a 4:1 guest to guide ratio. We aim for trips of six guests and two guides, though we often have more or less. Book three or more clients, and receive a 10% discount!

    We highly recommend trip insurance to protect your investment if the trip dates need to change or itinerary modified/cancelled due to weather, logistics complications, or other unforeseen circumstances.

     

  • October 12, 2011

    Dear Tom,

    We had a very challenging yet wonderful time during the 3 day Neon Canyon trip. Our co-workers and friends are jealous about us when they saw the pictures! Alas, only we know it was a hard work, but it's really worth it. It's a lifetime expeirence and we are so glad and proud that we did it. Your professional guidence made it possible for us! Not only we learned basic canyoneering skills for the first time, but also we learned a lot other things from you. You showed us by your example how one should be respectful to nature, enjoy beauties in all things big and small, leave no trace behind, cleanup litters along the way, It's easy to feel scared and feel dumb for someone had never done any kind of climbing before, but your coaching style was easy to follow and by the time we were descending the Golden Cathedral, we felt like a pro!

    We received your book and the CD yesterday, thank you for that! Aren't we looked stronger, younger and in formidable shape in these photos! Looks like there are lots of hikes and canyons yet to be explored in Zion, surely we will be back again!

    If you come to Bay Area, please give us a call and we might be able to do a hike together here, we be the local guides :)

    Take care,
    Susan & Xu
    Stanford, CA 

  • Trips are 100% refundable up to 30 days prior to departure. Once inside the 30-day window, we deduct a 25% cancellation fee from any refunds.  You may apply this 25% fee toward any future services or products we offer within two years from the date of cancellation. Cancellations within 24 hours of trip departure are non-refundable.