Blake planned an excellent canyoneering adventure months ago. Orderville Canyon is permit based, so as soon as permits were available he got online and reserved enough spots for us. Our friends, Jeremy and Caitlyn, were able to come with us. The trail head for Birch Hollow is located about 9 miles up the North Fork road; there is a small sign that says Birch Hollow and gives the canyon directions. The beginning of the hike required a little route finding and some bush whacking. The best thing to do in this area is simply follow the wash. It took us between 30-45 minutes to get to the first rappel.
The first rappel can either be a long (160 foot) rappel or a short (30 foot) rappel. We chose to do the shorter 30 foot rappel down the deep bowl shaped canyon. To do the shorter rappel, keep walking to the right of the bowl until you reach some webbing around a tree. This rappel is a good warm up; it is fun and easy and has a small overhang.
After the first bowl, you continue down canyon to the second rappel. It is a 60 foot rappel down another bowl and leads to the upper slot.
Rappels three, four, and five are all in the upper slow and range between 10-25 feet. All are secured with bolted anchors and webbing. They are all very close together, so keep your rope handy.
The sixth rappel is the longest (100 feet) down a long and beautiful chute. The webbing is on a tree to the left.
Both rappels seven and eight are 45 feet down two different chutes. There is a small down climb after these rappels, about eight feet, that requires some technical moves.
Rappel nine is down yet another chute of about 35 feet.
The final two rappels in Birch Hollow are definitely the most fun and most beautiful. A huge chockstone has been wedged perfectly into the slot canyon. The tenth rappel is down a 70 foot chute that is just below the chockstone. The final rappel is a 40 foot drop into Orderville Canyon. Make sure you look up and admire the curves of the canyon and perfectly placed chockstone. Birch Hollow took us about four hours from start to the last rappel.
From the last rappel, we headed down into Orderville Canyon. The next miles were fairly easy with no real obstacles. The first rappel in Orderville Canyon is the “boulder border”, this is where you re enter the national park. We didn’t actually rappel this obstacle just hand lined down off a boulder about 10 feet down.
From the border, things start to narrow up with a few down climbs that aren’t too challenging. After a few miles, mud and water start to become more abundant and staying dry becomes almost impossible. The canyon also starts to liven up with bright greens. Soon enough, the final rappel of both canyons, the “Guillotine”, is reached. It is a small rappel (10 foot) into waist deep water (at least it was waist deep for us; changes depending on season and amount of rain) with a small waterfall on the left. We were happy to reach the final rappel and ready for the next few miles through the remainder of Orderville Canyon and into the iconic Narrows.
The rest of Orderville Canyon was full of down climbs and obstacles. It was also full of people; people who started in the Narrows were hiking up Orderville Canyon. A few of the down climbs were pretty challenging and we were very surprised that people were so willingly climbing up them. The last obstacle in Orderville Canyon was Veiled Falls; this was by far the most challenging down climb. A slippery descent, only about six feet, with carved moki steps into the wall.
After Veiled Falls, we entered the Narrows! The final section of the hike probably took us the longest time and that was mostly due to the amount of people that were in the Narrows. It was beautiful as always, but we had just come from seeing six people in upper Orderville and Birch Hollow to hundreds of people enjoying the amazing view. We hurried as quickly as we could to the shuttle bus. Unfortunately , we ended up waiting about a half hour in line to get onto a bus.
These three canyons were amazing and we loved being able to do them. It was such an adventure; if we go back, we would definitely do Birch Hollow again. It was great to do Orderville Canyon with Birch Hollow but it definitely added a lot of time. The entire trip took up 11 hours and about 11 miles all together. We ended the night with a few star photos after we picked up the truck from the trail head.