One of the primary goals of my trip to the Southwest was to do some technical canyons with Aubrey. We started with Pine Creek Canyon, a classic, and relatively straightforward for newcomers to canyoneering. After a few rappels came the best part: double arch alcove as it is referred to in the guidebooks.

Aubrey rappels into double arch alcove in Pine Creek Canyon in Zion National Park.

Pine Creek Canyon in Zion National Park, Slot Canyons, Southwest

Cardiac Canyon : Prints Available
Pine Creek Canyon, Zion National Park.

The Tech: Canon 5D2, 24-105mm, tripod
Exposure: iso 100, f/9, 4.0 sec
Notes: I used two additional exposures to help control the dynamic range.

We stayed here for a while – Aubrey warmed up in one of the few sunny patches as I stood waist deep in the frigid water (thankfully with a wetsuit!) watching the light change constantly as it bounced off of different walls and casting warm and cool tones throughout the scene. The various arches and warm colors in this spot reminded me of a cross section of a human heart. Every moment is different in these canyons, and you never really know what’s coming around the next corner, or what the light will look like. Five minutes can make all the difference! A little farther down the canyon it opened up into a chamber that was glowing with reflected light.

Click image for larger view!

Canyoneer in Pine Creek Canyon, Zion National Park, Southwest

Canyon Cathedral : Prints Available
Aubrey poses in Pine Creek Canyon, Zion National Park.

The Tech: Canon 5D2, 24-105mm, tripod
Exposure: iso 100, f/9, 1.3 sec

The narrows portion of the canyon was actually quite short, and we spent the remainder of the afternoon hopping from rock to rock downstream to the exit point. Along the way Aubrey spotted a family (or perhaps just best friends?) of Canyon Tree Frogs. It was a crowded spot, but given the view and easy access to the best swimming hole I understand why. They are particularly good at blending in with the red rock, thanks to their chameleon-like ability to change the color of their skin (within certain limits). Many of them had a slightly gold glint, almost like glitter. Beautiful little creatures! Unfortunately there have been reports of some frogs in Pine Creek having chytrid fungus, which can kill a large percentage of frogs that become infected. To help prevent further spread of this (already widespread) disease, it is important to fully dry out your gear (killing the fungus) between canyon adventures.

Click image for larger view!

Canyon Tree Frogs in Zion National Park, Pine Creek Canyon, Southwest

Frog Pond : Prints Available
Canyon Tree Frogs along Pine Creek, Zion National Park.

The Tech: Canon 5D2, 24-105mm, tripod
Exposure: iso 200, f/16, 1/30th
Notes: two exposure panorama

Tags: , ,

7 Comments to “Into the Heart of the Earth – Zion’s Pine Creek Canyon”

  1. Wow, I saw a lot of Canyon’s pictures before but never realized it was so large. Adding a man to the picture really helps to feel the scale.

    Great pictures as always.

  2. Floris says:

    Thanks Evgeny – if you think this one looks big wait till you see the next one we did!

  3. Greg Russell says:

    Gorgeous images, Floris! Going through these technical canyons is a great way to get to the heart of a place like Zion. It’s not only exciting but also sort of an honor to see a part of the park only a small percentage of visitors get to see.

    When were you there? We might have overlapped, or even been in Pine Creek at the same time. I know that frigid pool of water well, as I spent about half an hour in it belaying everyone in our party as they rappelled down.


  4. Thanks Greg! Yea, it was great to be away from all the tourists. We did Pine Creek on June 3rd, when were you there?

  5. Greg Russell says:

    We went through Das Boot and the Subway on June 6, Birch Hollow and Orderville on June 7, and did a Keyhole/Pine Creek combo on June 8.

  6. […] van Breugel also recently has done some canyoneering in Zion; check it out here (fantastic images), and if you are interested in even more canyoneering, check out Dan […]

  7. Mark says:

    Beautiful work Floris. Love the frog shot.