Overview : You've hiked Angles Landing, Emerald Pools, Observation Point or Weeping Rock and you think you know Zion National Park, think again... more »
You've hiked Angles Landing, Emerald Pools, Observation Point or Weeping Rock and you think you know Zion National Park, think again... more ». Parunuweap Pass route on the East Side of Zion will open your eyes to a Zion few people will ever see in their lifetimes. A difficult day hike, Parunuweap pass offers the chance to experience a piece of every adventure Zion has to offer. Slot Canyons, Rock Climbing, Slick Rock Scrambling, Bushwacking, Route Finding, Peak Bagging and breath taking views.
No Permits are required for this back country excursion but use caution, this is the path least followed. During my jaunt I didn't see another living soul, which can cause problems if you run into trouble or need help. Any help is a very, very long way off.
Special Thanks to Bo Beck and Tanya Milligan for their Zion National Park hiking guide. Their link can be found under "Other Links and Resources".
Download track only to GPS device see "Trip Report" under "Other Links and Resources". less «
Backcountry Route! Safely hiking backcountry routes depend on your own good judgment, adequate preparation, and constant attention to ... more »your surroundings. Your safety is your responsibility.
Take plenty of water (3-4 liters), good scramble shoes, an extra pair or two of socks (the trail alternates between wet gully / canyon and slick rock slabs so you don't want to be sloshing up the slick rock in wet socks).
I carried my normal 80 feet of rope, but the vertical climb would only require about 50 feet of rope or webbing (only to help weaker climbers to the top). The climb has good holds and footing, there is a large pine tree at the top to belay if necessary.
Spring was a nice time to hike this trail, but I soon got tired of the wet sand mire and sink holes. I would have preferred to do it a little later in the year when the stream beds are nice and dry. That being said, this trail has lots of full sun exposure so it will be difficult during the heat of summer.
Good route finding skills are necessary, exploitation of weakness in rock formation to descend to the base of Gifford Canyon is a must.
Bushwacking is common on this hike, I only wore shorts and used a whole tube of Neosporin when I returned home on the scrapes. less «
Park at the entrance to the small tunnel, there is a path immediately visible that descends into the wash below.
An alternate entry point into Clear Creek can be found about .4 miles before reaching the Small Tunnel entrance. A nice pull out is available on the North side of the road heading toward the Main Tunnel. A trail on the South side drops into Clear Creek just before the junction to Parunuweap Pass. I would highly recommend this entry point. The... More hike contains plenty of hiking in rocky riverbed and you'll appreciate the extra stamina from having shaved off 1/2 mile at the beginning.Less
Halfway Falls is the first obstacle, it is located on your left near a dryfall. The dryfall is easy to overlook, because your eyes are drawn to the dark recess of the slot canyon. The slot canyon becomes impassible about 20 feet into the close damp walls, but if you've never ventured into the wet close quarters now is your chance to experience... More it. After backtracking look to your left and locate a pine tree and behind the pine tree is a "sliced" Hoodoo about 150 feet up. This is the direction of travel. Nice hand hold are available and after some careful scrambling you arrive at a level belay point directly behind the pine tree. A 50 foot rope or webbing can help weaker climbers up the obstacle.Less
The trail becomes steep and bushwacking becomes the norm, scramble in loose rock and fallen trees up toward the saddle. Note: There is a slick rock slab to the right that you might be able to negotiate around all the bushwacking. It can be seen clearly from the saddle but could be difficult to determine when and how to enter.
At the top of the the scramble you will have reached Parunuweap Pass. The saddle delineates the drainage to the North and South. At the saddle are two "squatted" Hoodoo's which make a nice place to rest and enjoy the view South into Crawford Wash and Parunuweap Canyon. To the North are the recognizable monoliths of Zion National Park.
Looking West-NorthWest toward peak 6310 locate the small ridge formed at the top of the slickrock slab you are currently standing on. This is your next destination. Follow the ridge North until you can drop down and across the gully to the other side, backtrack South to the slickrock bowl and wash; continue West. The dry falls can be negotiated... More by using the ledge system and zig zagging your way up and over. Note: The GPS recorded a short distracting jaunt of mine to the right along a fault line. Ignore this sidetrack (I made a wrong turn). Turn Left not Right and proceed to the next obstacle.Less
As you reach the head of the drainage you will encounter your next Obstacle. Turning Right at the sheer face you'll find a fault line with trees and a ledge system to help you negotiate to the top. The higher you proceed up the fault line the easier it will be to step up and over the obstacle's face. Backtrack down into the slickrock bowl that ... Moresits on top of the Obstacle's face and step to the top of the White Hoodoo for an incredible look down into Crawford Wash and Parunuweap Canyon below. Breathtaking!Less
From the White Hoodoo Lookout turn around and look up toward the saddle that spans the 1/4 mile between Peak 6310 (North) and Twin Hoodoo Peak (South) that is your next destination. Scramble up the Fault Line again using the ledge system and natural formations of trees and bushes to make your ascent. About halfway up look back toward the White... More Hoodoo Lookout and the "Squatted" Hoodoo's that mark Parunuweap Pass.Less
As you obtain the Saddle, an impressive panorama to the West opens before your eyes. Looking North the Impressive East Temple stands, behind it looms the Mountain of the Sun. This is your chance to bag a couple of peaks if that is your goal. To the North Peak 6310 and to the South the Highest Hoodoo of Twin Hoodoo Peak. Both appear to be... More reachable with modest scrambling. I was content to simply admire the peaks from a distance.Less
The task now is to head South toward the Twin Hoodoo and keeping them on your left side. You will be using the natural wide shelf system of rock formation to make your decent. Drop down about three good size ledges before you move South with the Hoodoo's on your left. If you cut to close to the Hoodoo, you'll have to back track to scramble down... More to the shelf's more level hiking. Looking down aim to follow the ridge line to the wooded peak.
Some bushwacking is needed as you climb to the wooded peak, but an interesting array of stone, marble size rocks and natures fury to survive are all evident.Less
From the Wooded knoll head Southwest toward the head of Gifford Canyon. Your point of reference is a predominate White Capped Hoodoo about 1/2 mile down and to your right. The Hoodoo sits on the edge of the east cliff of Gifford Canyon and to the North of the Slickrock bowl which is your goal.
Bushwacking and game trail following is the norm as... More you work your way down toward the White Hoodoo.
Note: the picture shows the White Hoodoo in the lower right hand corner.Less
Once you reach the Cliff Side Gifford Canyon Hoodoo, skirt along the South side to the ledge overlooking the Canyon. From this vantage point you have a chance to study your decent into Gifford Canyon. This is very important and I missed getting some of the pictures to help (sorry).
Think of your route as a large "U" shape, your goal is... More to reach the opposite side of Gifford Canyon and descend to the Canyon floor. Immediately to the South is the Slickrock bowl, next a small ravine continues South. At the bottom of the "U" is the predominate Black Face and 250 foot dry fall that marks the end of Gifford Canyon. As your eye continues along the West side of the Canyon it is important for you to locate the Black Capped Hoodoos almost directly across the Canyon from your current location. The Saddle between the Black Capped Hoodoos and the cliffs behind them is your goal.Less
Bushwacking is the ad-nausea as you work your way along the West side of Gifford Canyon. Staying close to the cliff will make your way easier, but not much. Back tracking and re-route finding become typical. Keep your eye on the prize and the Black Cap Hoodoo's on your right side as you scramble up a ramp to the small saddle. At this point you... More are able to walk out onto the top of the Hoodoo and look back across the Canyon to the Cliff Side Hoodoo and back toward the Black Vertical Slab & Dry Falls.
At the top of the Saddle again, drop down into the steep but sandy gully behind and carefully work your way down to the Sandstone bowl and wash below.Less
Once you reach the slickrock bowl, continue through the wash and use the ledge system & natural weaknesses on the North side to work your way to the bottom of Gifford Canyon
Hike down Gifford Canyon until you come to another dryfall. To the left, you'll see a trail leading through the trees. This trail is steep and loose dirt footing, use the trees to catch your balance and in about 50 feet you arrive at the canyon floor once again.