If you ever want a private, guided family canyoneering hike book with Red Desert Adventures in Springdale, Utah!
I researched many places that offered slot canyon tours in Zion National Park. Red Desert Adventures offered all that we wanted: canyoneering, private, family oriented, and kid friendly! I called and asked a few questions and booked a half day trip over the phone (after stalking Trip Advisor and Yelp.) We were to meet our guide in front of Zion Visitor’s Center with our daypacks and water. We packed a few snacks, tobaggons, and gloves, and layered our clothing. We all had thermals, hiking pants, sweatshirt and a jacket.
We met our guide, Matt, and realized early that we really liked him. He drove us up to the backside of Zion on Kolob Terrace Road to Lambs Knoll Climbing Site. It was about a 35 minute drive. The temperature had dropped since we were up higher but the sun was out and the day turned out to be a good day to rappel for the first time.
Matt hooked us up with helmets and harnesses because – safety first!
We immediately began climbing up the boulders to our first rappelling site. Carter, of course, wanted to go first. He is constantly asking us to stop on the side of the road so he can climb various hills, rocks, boulders, and mountains. We watched as Matt went through a crash course in safety and ropes. I do not remember what he said except “This is your rope. Don’t let go.” I watched as everyone went down. I am DEATHLY afraid of heights so I did NOT look down. In the past I have looked down and either get dizzy or everything starts to go black. I figured that wouldn’t be good so I trusted Matt and this tiny rope. I turned, leaned back, and inched my way down. It took me several minutes as my family laughed and snickered at me. Then Matt hopped down the side of the mountain in three quick jumps. I was in awe.
The next drop was longer. Everyone, including, myself, was a little quicker. Chris bounces down quickly. Ryan and Carter were swift and Haley and I inched our way down again. At this point we had to squeeze through a crack. I couldn’t figure out how to hold my pack, squeeze through a tiny slit in the mountain, and shimmy down the mountain wall so Matt said he would hold my pack. I still never looked down. Matt came down last with a couple of short bounces with my pack AND Haley’s pack, too. In my mind, that’s what I looked like but my family reassured me that I did not.
We were ready to head back to the van when Matt informed us that we were not done! We climbed up further and this time our descent was more slanted and the view more beautiful. We finished the adventure with a final cliff climb and descent. Matt said it was 120 foot drop. This time I tried to jump like the guys did and only ended up slamming into the rock and bruising my knee pretty bad. But I did beat Haley down. We though Ryan would hate canyoneering but he loved it. We thought Haley would love it but she never wants to do it again!
We hope to visit Matt again on our next trip to Zion and we highly recommend Red Desert Adventures! While we were at Lambs Knoll we only saw one other family. They were doing shorter walls as the kids were younger. RDA also offers rock climbing, and hiking. The hike at Lambs Knoll was pretty easy but uphill and you do not really break a sweat. The winter air was brisk and it was cool at times but the views were breathtaking and Our guide knowledgeable, and always had our safety in mind. And every time I was about to descend I made Matt check my rope to make sure I was holding it correctly and he never got mad or irritated. Good job, Matt!
Ready to go canyoneering again and never look down or back until my feet hit the red dirt.
Cost: $105 each
Experience needed: none
In Winter – Bring: gloves, toboggan, backpack with water, light snacks for kids that eat every hour, Sweatshirt, light jacket, hiking boots, long pants, chapstick, thermals
Time: we went at 12; the warmest part of the day as the high was 40 degrees. We ate a good lunch beforehand. In summer I’d go early.
Duration: approximately 4 hours
Bathroom: in parking lot
If you ever have the chance, go canyoneering!