Photo Essay: Slot Canyoneering in Zion

GP contributor Chris Burkard and friends explore the canyons of Zion National Park’s Birch Hollow, Orderville Canyon and the Narrows on a day-long microadventure.

My good friends Christian Adam and Eric Johnson and I packed up the car after work and drove through the night with a simple plan: head towards Zion. People have it in their heads that you need a lot of money to take trips. Our goal was a trip with a small budget. We ate crappy gas station food and took rotations driving to get there by morning; we had no permits or any idea of what we were going to do. This was a “microadventure” with no set plan except to have fun in some canyons.

We met with my good friend Andrew Baron that morning to get our permit for the Subway, in order to get our legs warmed up. We didn’t know where we were going to stay, and that night we arrived at the campsite to find a “sold out” sign. Luckily, the ranger stopped us at the check-in window to offer a spot that had opened up just as we were turning away. After a few hours of sleep through an unexpected gusty night, we headed straight up through Birch Hollow, Orderville Canyon and the Narrows. After a 12-hour day, four full 64GB SD cards, one sprained ankle, one soaked iPhone and plenty of awesome stories told over a well-deserved group dinner, we all agreed that unplanned, spontaneous trips with friends are usually the best.

Chris Burkard is a self-taught photographer and artist based in California’s Central Coast. His work covers surfing, the outdoors, lifestyle and travel, with images punctuated by energized landscapes and moments of bliss typical of an adventure-seeking life. Learn more about his life and photography at and follow him on Instagram @chrisburkard.

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