Last Candition: April 15, 2011


3 out of 5
Date of Trip: June 21, 2020

Canyon is in stupid easy mode. Made it to the last rap and said really that’s it? We had maybe 4 real swims. Hardly any water in grim. I had a hyper flex vyrl 5/4 that never went above my waist and I was still warm. I would have done it in hindsight with a summer suit. 3mm farmer John? but I run warm and was already mid level heat exhausted. Others used 4/3s and were plenty fine. All the swims were short far apart and the ambient air temp was in the 80s. Water was still cold but it was refreshing. There are no major obstacles. We did the technical section in 5hrs. Camped just before the first Mesa in hammocks it was slightly cold in the am. Should have slept on wetsuit for insulation. I wish I’d done it in hard mode, it honestly wasn’t that good of a canyon in this condition... I don’t get the hype...

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: September 22, 2018

Very low water. It took us 14 hrs fence to fence (started at 7 AM, got dark during the pull on the last rap). We were a group of 4. A more skilled group of 9 got through much quicker than us (downclimbing and stemming ability is key). The approach seemed long. Pumped water at the end of the Rip section, but there weren't many good options (most springs were dry). No need to wetsuit up until late Happy. I wore a full 4/3 and was never cold. One had a full 3 and was a bit chilly at times, but never too cold. One did it without ever putting on his wetsuit (drug a packed full 5 through the canyon) and never got cold (but he runs hot). The Grim section was demanding, intense, and relentless...but also amazing, beautiful, and incredibly diverse. I can't imagine the difficulty/terror level at full water.

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: June 30, 2018

Previous report June 2018 is spot-on. The short swims in Happy section could be done with no wetsuit and sharkskin or a 3mm shortie.

No major obstacles in canyon. Biggest hurdle is route finding entrance and avoiding Poison Ivy. Make sure to filter water in Happy section in clear streams after the poison ivy starts. Deer flies biting at river exit but clear in canyon.

12 hours Fence to Fence (14 hours for some in group of 8).

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: June 3, 2018

It is currently in easy mode. The grim section has turned into an extension of the happy section. We were surprised when the canyon opened up and we checked our GPS to find that we were 500' from the final rappel. We did not put on wetsuits until what I call the Subway section, which is probably near the end of the happy section. I had a 5/7 wet suit and that was a bit of overkill, but better safe than sorry. The sand dams and log jams are all gone, but there are problematic log jams lurking high in the slots. Not a problem in low to non existent water levels. Plenty of poison ivy in the riparian, but avoidable, if you stick to the water course. Same can be said on the exit. Just be vigilant. You can also expect to add a few nuisance rappels to the beta because of the low water levels. Water levels in the Escalante are calf deep at this time. You can expect to spend 9 to 12 hours out and back from Fence camp.

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: July 16, 2017

Amazing canyon. Looked to have flashed a few days prior but water levels did not seem super high? Water was fresh and no major obstacles. Started hiking from bottom of fence at 6 and all were down last rap just before 2. Storms in the distance at 2:30. Could do it without a wetsuit but would recommend something. Cooked in a 5mm.

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: June 9, 2017

Canyon was in lower water conditions. No bombay problems. Lots of swims and downclimbs. I was comfortable in a 4\3 wetsuit. Having a small pack was very helpful. Amazing canyon.

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: June 7, 2017

Quite a bit of swimming, and even in hot temps a 5mm wetsuit is required. Water levels low enough that the major challenges in the Grim Section are relatively straight forward. Be prepared for a very narrow section or two you need to crawl through. Long approach, and long canyon with a lot of physical work. Start early with the hot temps, and plan on a full day. If the canyon doesn't exhaust you, the sun will.

Poison ivy is in abundance, but mostly avoidable. Know what to watch for. We counted 4 raps, the last one well anchored. Other raps may be needed, unless you do a careful spot or two. Caution if you leap/jump on those 10 foot marginal drops.

One of the best canyons around. Highly recommended for those with the skill.

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: April 2, 2017

Plenty of cold flowing water throughout the canyon , even a little bit of flow in the Grim section. 5mm wet suits seemed to work well for us, so long as we kept moving. Neoprene socks and Gloves were nice to have for the Grim in particular. From the mouth of neon we were able to make it to the start of Kaleidoscope in about 3 hours. Started descending the canyon around 11:30 which gave us some pretty sweet lighting in the Grim section. Didn't find the allegedly "unavoidable" Poison Ivy everyone is complaining about in the Riparian section. There was a couple of log jams that would have been tricky in the Grim had the water not been eroding the bottom of them so that one could barely duck under them. Not a bad idea to treat the tricky sections in the Grim the same as Potholes, have an escape route and people stemming up high behind , just in case a log jam is much harder than it originally appears.

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: May 29, 2016

3 hour approach from our camp at the confluence of Escalante river and Fence canyon. 5 hours descent. 1 hour return.

A lot of poison ivy at the beginning of the canyon(not fun)which is almost impossible to avoid, then it is a blast till the end. Water level was ideal (not too high) and water temperature wasn't too bad (I had 5/3 mm suits). There is only one section where we had to climb over a log jam and only one person in our group of 4 was able to do so on his own. Partner assist would work there.

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: June 26, 2015

Road: Lousy, a couple of tough spots even for high clearance.

Riparian section: Water levels medium to high.

Happy section: Water levels high.

Grim section: Water levels low, but lots of swimming; there are still 3-5 semi-challenging obstacles, and 1 significant obstacles (water level forces a 5-10 foot upclimb depending on your size). Still, none of the obstacles are as challenging as when the canyon is in difficult mode. I'd rate it as a 4 in difficulty on a scale of 1-10. Pretty do-able by a good group of experienced canyoneers.

4 out of 5
Date of Trip: April 19, 2015

Water levels were low enough to avoid any difficult jams/climbs but high enough to provide lots of opportunities for swimming. Minimum neo in our group of six was 4/3 with a 3mm vest on top, some of our group got a bit chilly but never cold.

All anchors we used seemed to be in good shape.

Took about 12 hrs from the bottom of Neon round trip for our mixed group of 6.

Escalante river was crystal clear and the road in was passable for any 4x4 (an outback would make it to Egypt 2 trailhead without a problem).

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: April 16, 2015

Did Choprock from Egypt Trailhead. Long day with a fair amount of swimming in mid-level water conditions. Used a 5 mm wetsuit and was never cold. Water was about a foot below the logjam crux and we could swim under the logjam. Some light snow while we were in the canyon and during the hike out.

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: October 11, 2014

The water level is still at a jammed log at one place in the Grim section and requires climbing over. It is not that hard but still a little scary. The water temperature is surprisingly warm. All anchors are in good condition. Fantastic corridor swims!

4 out of 5
Date of Trip: August 31, 2014

Took a group of 3 through this canyon and wow what an approach. We made one nav error on the approach as it only added 30+ mins, but the canyon itself took a little less than 6 hours total. The approach was about 5-6 hours and exit (we camped at the base of Neon) was 2 1/2 hours. a LONG day! The recent rains made everything very wet. As noted above with all the water, we probably swam 1/2 - 3/4 mile alone in that canyon without touching canyon bottom! LONG swims. There was a few logjams that were difficult to bypass as those sections were only a 1ft 1/2 wide with a log jam that was vertical for 10ft in the air. A webbing loop made it possible to escape those but at the cost of a lot of energy! And unfortunately couldn't swim underneath either. Good canyon, but should not be underestimated! The 'freak out factor' as described by Tom Jones is adequate! Anchors in good shape. And no flowing clear water from the riparian or happy section. Nasty silty water to purify... :(

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: July 5, 2014

Water Levels low enough you can go underneath 90% of the obstacles. Water is cold and there are still some swims. My 5/4/3 mil wet suit kept me warm enough. Nobody in our group chilled and most people were wearing 4-5 mil. Anchors are in fair condition. The stream is running in the Riparian section. That is the best place to pump water within the canyon. Round trip from Fence Camp Ground was just under 12 hours, with nobody in our group of 5 having ever done the canyon before. Hopefully somebody will add a sport route as everything above the grim section really seemed unnecessary and very low payoff for the effort of hiking the extra distance.

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: March 14, 2014

This canyon is awesome, I would say the water levels were mid range. Lots of swimming, we wore 4/3 suits with 5/3 vests and with all the work involved in getting through the canyon we stayed warm enough. We only got chilled once when we stopped for a bite to eat. None of the log jams were a problem. They were all at dry spots and easily climbed over, or else high enough that they cold be swam under. There was one that was just above the waterline that we could probably have gone under, but we went over instead and it wasn't too hard.

Default_avatar_thumb emh
5 out of 5
Date of Trip: May 12, 2013

Canyon currently has enough water to keep things interesting but not enough to make them incredibly challenging. At least a half dozen swims, some fairly long. Lots of waist and chest wading. Of our group of four, we had one person in a 5/4 wetsuit and three in 4/3. I get cold easily and was just barely warm enough with capilene under a 4/3, fleece over, and a hat. The dish glove/garden glove combo was fantastic. We also timed it so that the sun was reaching into the canyon on the grim section (530AM start time, no nav errors) which made a big difference on overall air temps. In a nutshell, wet but not relentless.

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: April 5, 2013

AWESOME! From what I've heard about the canyon, very low water. Happy section was flowing with clear, cold water, but Grim section was mostly dry. Lots of skinny downclimbs and only one logjam you have to climb over.

Default_avatar_thumb nat
5 out of 5
Date of Trip: May 18, 2012

Low water. No serious obstacles, though the usual physical and tight, though moderate down climbs and up climbs. In our party of 9, we all had either 4/3, 3/2 or farmer johns and were OK (I was a tad cold in places with a 4/3, but I get cold easily). About 10 swims or so, all short except a couple of about 50-75 feet. All of the anchors and webbing were in good shape.

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: May 10, 2012

14 hours with three people from Fence canyon camp and back. Beware rodents/raccoons are gnawing packs to get food, hang your pack from a tree with webbing. Route finding hard, difficult to find the upclimbs and the cliff down climbs on the approach. Plan ahead. Waterway is the only option to avoid the riparian ballroom poison ivy. 4mm wetsuits minimum. Skinny wife was slightly chili in a 5mm. 3-5 swims and a lot of wading. Lots of 20 foot + downclimbs, bring knee pads and protection for wetsuit abrasion. This canyon is slow going and seems to repeat the same routine 8 times in the grim section. Minimal water, probably the lowest the levels get. Water was 15 feet below the log jams. Water was clean and just enough to get you cooled off. Replaced the webbing at one of the first downclimbs. Other webbing was in good shape, last rap webbing could be extended to be easier to reach.