Zion – Shelf Canyon (at last)

Virgin, UT

After hiking up at least four different canyons over the past three weeks looking for the elusive Shelf Canyon,  this morning we drove to the east side of Zion NP, confident that today would be the day we would find our target.  After failing to locate this hike, yesterday we consulted with a park ranger, only to be informed that it was the same canyon we hiked on our first attempt to find Shelf Canyon, so apparently we didn’t go far enough up the canyon on that hike.  Today we were determined that things would be different!

The opening to Shelf Canyon

We parked in the lot just outside the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel and walked a bit to the east.  At that point we climbed down an embankment into a wash, then headed north into the canyon.

After an easy climb up sliprock for the first part of the canyon, we soon encountered boulders in our path.

We then came to the spot where we turned around on our previous hike up this canyon.  At the time we thought that we had gone farther than we needed to, so we turned around, believing we were in the wrong area.  But this time a determined effort carried us over the large boulder in our path.

Some of the rocks in this area were very colorful.

After climbing over some more boulders, we entered a sandy, flat area.

Then the canyon narrowed to a point were we could just get between the walls.

Some more boulder climbing was in our future.

But at last, we came to the elusive Shelf Canyon!

Shelf Canyon ends abruptly at this point, but the canyon ending was a really cool area, with  many “shelves” along one side and soaring walls above us.

After a few brief moments to enjoy our triumph, we began the return hike down the canyon.

At times we scampered down the rocks . . .

. . . or slid down on our butts.

But in the end, persistence triumphed!

OK, so our triumphant hike was only about a half mile up a canyon, but it was now lunchtime and we needed to find some high ground.  We drove east about three miles to a spot high on the rocks that we had seen during an earlier trip through the park.

After parking the Jeep along the road, we headed up the rocks.

Some cool hoodoos would provide the proper scene for our mid-day meal.

Lunch with a View

Some strange rocks surrounded our lunch spot

After lunch, we crossed the road to check out some pools in the rocks.

Above us was one of the most recognized formations in the park, Checkerboard Mesa.  One nimble hiker eagerly began the climb up the rocks.

Just kidding, the climb up Checkerboard Mesa was just a bit out of our league, so we headed back to the Jeep.  As we drove out of the area, one of the local residents bid us goodbye!

That concluded another great day in Zion National Park.

Only a few more days until our visit to Zion is over and we move on.  But now the hiking planner is busily punching keys while cruising web sites looking for one more hike, so who knows what will happen to us in the next few days.  Stay tuned . . .

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33 Responses to Zion – Shelf Canyon (at last)

  1. Nan and John says:

    WAY TO GO, YOU TWO! Congrats! Persistance pays off!

  2. Oh the places you go! Wow! It looks like you are going straight up! Great pictures!

    • placestheygo says:

      Hiking up to our lunch location was almost straight up. At one point I could very easily touch the rock in front of me.

      Thanks for following!

      So glad you took Gay and Joe on some hikes in Valley of Fire. What a wonderful place!

  3. Upriverdavid says:

    I’m soo glad you found it and showed us…..The weather looks great…Way to go!!!

  4. Sue says:

    Those rocks at your lunch spot looked like pancakes to me….no wonder you chose that place to eat. Did you remember the maple syrup?

  5. Lisa says:

    Fun, fun, fun! I’m envious of your gorgeous hikes! Utah WILL be in our future! 🙂

  6. pmbweaver says:

    Some of those rocks may have been colorful but also dangerous.

    I can plainly see why you wanted to do that hike. Gorgeous. Those shelves are awesome. Congratulations for now giving up! I love the high-five photo!

    You two sure made the most out of Zion. So much fun and so many, many memories. Thanks for taking us along on each adventure.

  7. Gay and Joe Taylor says:

    Way to go…..so glad your persistence paid off! As usual, beautiful pictures……love the colors in the rocks and the narrows are so interesting. You two always manage to find the best lunch spots!

  8. Wow… those are some adventurous impressive hikes you’ve been on. We have only ridden through Zion. But we will be spending this Summer in Moab, so maybe it is time for some hikes!

    • placestheygo says:

      We head to Moab Sunday for s few weeks so I am sure we will have lots of hiking ideas for you!! After all, I have 2000 arches to find when we get to Arches NP!

      • Thanks for the email/comment on our blog. Not sure how else to get ahold of you but to post again on your blog. But to answer your question… we will be at Spanish Trails RV Park in Moab. Maybe you can check it out for us! Too bad we will miss meeting.

      • placestheygo says:

        We’ll check it out while we are there. The reviews seem alright.

  9. cathy says:

    We LOVE Zion and hope to visit again this fall. Shelf Canyon is now on our “to-do” list. Great post!

  10. LuAnn says:

    This looked like a fabulous hike. So glad you persevered and we got the benefit of seeing some fabulous photos. Love that one strange rock formation where you stopped for lunch.

  11. Amanda says:

    Love the Hoodoo formations and the Checkerboard Mesa pictures. After some more hikes in the main canyon, I think next week we’ll go check out the east side. Seems like there’s fewer people and tons to explore. Not sure we’ll ever be able to leave this place! I can see why you chose to spend a whole month here.

    • placestheygo says:

      We had almost every trail to ourselves on the east. It was wonderful! Use Joe’s site to help find the good spots and directions. “Many Pools” is great fun and you can go as far as you want.

  12. Allison says:

    Another beautiful hike. We’re thinking we’re going back to do some more of where you two went. Since you’re going to Moab, you should go to island in the Sky at Canyonlands. The scenery there was just STUPENDOUS. After you drive out, it’s about a one mile walk and it’s other worldly beautiful.

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks, Allison! Canyonlands is part of our plan while we are in the area. I have several hikes in Island in the Sky and a few in Needles I would like to do.

      Make sure you check out Joe’s website for the full hiking trail list. That’s what kept us so busy. If you forget his address, just Google “hiking in Zion” and it will come up. That’s how I found it.

  13. Tom & Patricia says:

    Just stumbled upon your site today… two thumbs up! can you tell me were you got your trailer or tow dolly from. Seems like an ideal way to haul a Harley. Thanks…

  14. Pam says:

    Whoa, this hike really does look challenging–more like rock climbing. Must be pretty exhilarating to reach the pinnacle. Looks like you made a good choice to go to Zion this time of year.

  15. Finally, persistence paid off. Thank you for taking us to this hike. Those rock formations lookedliked pancakes or bread dough stacked together. amazing and beautiful

  16. dmahler99 says:

    wow.. very nice. based on your info, we did the slef canyon hike yesterday.

    thanks for all the details. it really helped. that walk on the sand towards the end was magical. and all by ourselves.


    Don M

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