Zion – Jolley Gulch Hike

Virgin, UT

There is a short hike on the east side of Zion NP called the Shelf Canyon Hike.  It’s not a long or particularly beautiful hike, but we just can’t seem to find it.  Being the stubborn people we are we have twice driven to this area of the park and hiked up what we thought to be the Shelf Canyon.   The third time is usually seen as the charm, so today we headed back to where we felt the canyon to be from descriptions we have read.  As we began the hike it appeared that we had finally found our target.


The canyon seemed to fit descriptions we had read and had some neat rock formations cut by the stream, so we kept going.



But after a bit the wash began to rise steeply through a series of large boulders.

We scrambled up as far as we could, but soon came to an area that required climbing skills just beyond ours, so we turned around.

The nimble hiker demonstrates her skills

After a short hike back down the wash, we decided to scramble up the rocks to find some elevation that would provide a good place for lunch.

Above us there were some pretty nice arches in the rocky wall of the canyon.

We hiked up the rocks for a while before spying a good perch for lunch.

The site we picked gave us a nice view of the wash below and the colorful rocks of the canyon.

The view during lunch

A young hiker enjoys the view

After lunch we began the hike back down the wash.  At one point we paused to view another group of hikers ahead of us.  They also paused to check us out.

After the sheep scrambled up the rocks, we scrambled down to the wash below.

At times the trip down required some careful scrambling.

But the nimble hiker and her young native guide handled the steep rocks quite easily.

At times the rocks around us were filled with bright colors.

We returned to the Jeep, disappointed that we had missed Shelf Canyon for the third time. But with each attempt we had a great hike up an interesting canyon.  That’s one of the neat things about the east side of Zion NP.  You can just park along the road, climb the rocks into a nearby wash, and have a great experience.

We had a second hike planned for today that required a drive to just inside the east entrance to the park.  The Jolley Gulch is a wash that can be reached by hiking the East Rim Trail for about half a mile.

The East Rim Trail

After crossing a bridge, we scrambled over a rise of slickrock down into Jolley Wash.

The wash was a bit rocky but had some interesting views of the surrounding canyon walls.

After about a mile we came to an pretty cool dry waterfall.

When the stream is full, this waterfall must be quite a sight.  We scrambled up the surrounding rocks and continued for a short while.

But there didn’t seem to be anything interesting ahead of us and it was getting a bit late in the day, so we turned and headed back down the wash.

We returning to the Jeep and headed for the motorhome.  After more research, we think we may finally have the Shelf Canyon located, so one more trip to this area is in our future. If we miss it again, we may have to extend our stay here, as we’re not leaving till we find it.  The hike is not suppose to be that exciting, but we’ll find that canyon if it takes all summer!

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15 Responses to Zion – Jolley Gulch Hike

  1. Gay and Joe says:

    I have never seen a dry waterfall…very interesting! That was a well-mannered group of hikers you met there…bet they dont litter up the trails!
    Good luck on finding Shelf Canyon …in the mean time, we will just enjoy your efforts!

  2. Nan and John says:

    I can see you now….A forehead slap with the heel of your hand and saying “it was here all the time, we just overlooked it!”

  3. Joan Ritten says:

    Great pictures! You do some serious hiking! We will be back at Lake Mead NRA in September for another volunteer position and look forward to visiting Zion in the fall. Good to have your blog for reference.

  4. Lisa says:

    Looks like another fun hike! Love that you saw bighorns!

  5. RJRVtravels says:

    Totally amazing – you have found some really wonderful hikes.

  6. pmbweaver says:

    Like to see the spirit of adventure once again come out of you both. The hikes look like another couple we would love to do.

    Some of that rock scrambling might be a challenge. We are watching how easily youtwo make it, so we are game to try.

    Give me an idea what you take for lunch on all these hikes. How are your boots holding out? You have been giving them quite a workout.

    Enjoy your week of beauty.

  7. Zion never disappoints… those sheep were cool!!!
    Box Canyon Mark

  8. LuAnn says:

    I believe you two may set a record for number of hikes completed in Zion! 🙂

  9. Leigh says:

    Love the sheep!!

  10. I agree with LuAnn, you are setting the record which may be difficult to surpass. Despite not finding the trail you wanted, the search in itself looked very beautiful! We yet have to see our BigHorn.

  11. Wayne Lofthouse says:

    You were in Pine Creek Canyon. I’ve been up it many times. The last time I went upstream and scrambled up the cliffs to the east so I could get back to the top of the dry waterfall.
    In case you haven’t found Shelf Canyon yet, go through the tunnel heading east, go past the parking lot with the toilet to a larger parking lot about 50 yards east on the north side (at the east end of the sidewalk from the guard shack). From that parking lot look straight north. That’s Shelf Canyon. Don’t go straight into it from there because it’s very steep, but you should be able to find another way in. You can usually enter the stream to the south (Pine Creek again) and go through a tunnel to access the canyons to the north.

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks, Wayne! We did get to the Shelf Canyon if you read a few more blogs further. We had found it right away but didn’t know it because we didn’t think we could get around the huge rock that was blocking the path. But once we knew we were in the correct place, we made sure we figured it out and we did. If you check the following post, you’ll see how we got around the boulder. It was a neat little place!


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