Tom’s Experience canyoneering through Neon Canyon:
Neon Canyon is a really fun canyon that’s main attraction is the rappel into the Golden Cathedral. Follow the route to the golden cathedral near the beginning, but after the first bend, in Neon Canyon. Follow the trail that heads up to the left and out of the canyon. This is really the only way out of the canyon and if you make it to the Golden Cathedral you know you’ve gone to far. The trail is somewhat challenging to follow but there are cairns and plenty of foot prints so that it really isn’t too difficult. Once you see the Golden Cathedral from above, it is about 1/2 mile further to the lower entrance of the canyon. You can see some trees on the canyon floor and it is pretty open. There is also some webbing you could use for a rappel–which is what we did.
You can continue going further up the canyon if you would like but we decided to drop in the lower section. After the initial rappel, we put on our wet suits and moved down through the canyon.
There were a couple of easy rappels, or “down climbs,” and a swim or two that we had to get through. Most of it was pretty narrow and the water was very cold so I was grateful for the wet suits. The keeper pothole wasn’t too big of a problem for us, we were able to swim right over it and come out on the other side but we went in the middle of May after a week of rain. If there wasn’t so much water in the pothole we may have struggles to get out.
The final rappel was really fun! You rappel through the first hole which then turns into a free rappel into the pool at the bottom.
It was also really fun to look up through the multiple holes as we were coming down. This has got to be one of the best of all the Utah canyons as far as “bang for your buck” goes. However, the approach is fairly long and may be made better as a backpacking trip with excellent camping near the Escalante River. Neon Canyon Guide.
Dogs are allowed in the Golden Cathedral area but must be on a leash, but because of the rappels they should probably sit this adventure out.
Trail Info: From highway 12, drive south down the Hole In The Rock road for about 17 miles to a dirt road on the left that is well marked for Egypt. Follow that dirt road 9.9 miles to the Egypt Trailhead. There is a BLM trail register at the trail head. Follow the route to the Golden Cathedral and once you are in Neon Canyon, after the first or second bend, there is a trail leading up out of the canyon on the left. Follow that trail to the drop in point. Exit the canyon and head back to the car the same way you got down.
Trailhead = 37.593225,-111.218564
Mouth of Neon Canyon = 37.606634,-111.168132
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