Misery Canyon, Zion National Park

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Misery Canyon

After a spectacular hike through southeastern Zion, Misery Canyon runs through deep pools and sandy washes to the East Fork of the Virgin River and the entrance to the protected Parunuweap Canyon. Read More

  • While much less popular, Parunuweap Canyon rivals Zion Narrows in scale and beauty.
  • The deep pools of Misery Canyon provide a cool contrast to the summer heat.
  • Although there are multiple rappels, most are small, with natural anchors.
  • Navigation in the wilderness is difficult, so come prepared with a GPS, maps and a compass.


For canyoneers looking for something spectacular and off most visitors' radar, Misery Canyon, also known as Fat Man's Misery, is a great option. Eventually meeting up with the East Fork of the Virgin River, this canyon winds through deep pools and alternating sandy washes.

The depth of the pools is highly dependent on water levels in the area, so if the weather has been dry, no swimming will be necessary. However, recent rains could make some pools a required swim. Check with the park office for current conditions.

Due to the remote nature of the hike, navigation skills are at a premium in this wilderness setting, meaning a GPS is helpful, while a compass and a detailed map are requirements.

The turn around point for the hike is at the confluence with the East Fork in Parunuweap Canyon, where the Powell Memorial Plaque commemorates the first European descent into the canyon.

Canyon Specifics

  • Route distance: Approximately 10 miles
  • Average time: 12 hours
  • Canyon rating: 3B III (Canyon Rating System)
  • Best time to go: Mid-June to mid-September
  • Elevation gain: 2,420 feet
  • Route beginning: Parking area southwest of Checkerboard Mesa
  • Route end: Turn around at the Powell Plaque, then the hike back to the parking area.


Misery Canyon does not require a permit, as most of the hike is outside of park boundaries. Take note, however, that after meeting the East Fork of the Virgin River, travel downstream into Parunuweap Canyon is prohibited, as it enters Zion National Park.