Mystery Revisited

September 20, 2018

View canyon rating for Mystery Canyon

Day 1 of the Zion Canyon Rendezvous started with an invitation to do Mystery. I had been wanting to do this canyon under different circumstances than last time.

We set up a shuttle and picked up permits in the morning and then headed off to the Observation Point trailhead.


At the trailhead ready to go
Top of Mystery Canyon

We arrived at the top and made our way down Death Gulley. The ranger told us to rappel all the "optional" rappels at the beginning. It is possible to walk around these but creates unsightly social trails. We had a beginner in our group so doing these shorter rappels was good practice for him.

Technical Section

Coming down one of the "optional" rappels

We soon entered the first narrows and sequenced the rappels in quick succession.

After the rappels and the big left turn towards the Zion Narrows we encountered a few fun down climbs and then broke for lunch at the dry lake.

Giving pointers on how to down climb safely

As we were approaching the lake I pointed out where water was the last time. I remember seeing a swamp-like area with an ever-deepening pool that ended in a 100' swim. The group was very surprised that the lake could see that much water.

The lake completely dry
View of the rest of the canyon from the top of the dam

Rockfall area

The last time I descended Mystery we experienced a significant rockfall right before the Mystery Springs rappel. I wanted to get pictures of the area and point out where some of the events took place. I have updated the Rockfall in Mystery Canyon blog post with pictures if you haven't seen them already.

Mystery Springs

I wish I could capture how impressive this area and rappel are. You are in a narrow section hiking and down climbing when suddenly you round a corner and the earth disappears. You look down and can't see anything for a good hundred or so feet.

Atop the Mystery Springs rappel

Below you it looks like you will rappel into an empty pit and climb back up to a tall sand dune. Looking closer, though, you realize that you are looking into a crystal clear pool that only makes itself known through the tiniest ripples. This is truly the soul of Mystery Canyon. And you must look deep down to see it.

Or you could just throw the rope down and hear a splash instead of thump. That would also give it away.

Looking down into Mystery Springs

Descending the canyon to this point was completely dry. Now it was time to get wet. Very cold but a few strokes later and I was out again and feeling refreshed.

Final Rappel

The final rappel. The reason this canyon is so sought after. It drains into the Zion Narrows within a mile of the Temple of Sinawava and is densely populated with hikers looking up at the spectacular waterfall. And we get to rappel down into it!

Looking down into the Zion Narrows
Rappelling down

And just like that, we were done with the technical section! We de-rigged, packed up, and headed to the shuttle buses and dinner.

Mostly group shot at the end

View all images

Previous Page: EngelsteadNext Page: The Subway