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Pinon Canyon

Long and beautiful.

Legendary exploratory canyoneer Michael Kelsey placed Pinon Canyon in the top seven canyons on the Colorado Plateau. It's not hard to see why.

Soaring hallways, tight squeezes, total blackness, big rappels, keeper potholes, and an oasis river make this one extra special.

Don't forget that this one is on private property and should not be poached. The landowners have horses and cows and are constantly driving around herding their livestock - you'll surely be caught and prosecuted. Don't poach this one.

That said, we obtained special permission. There is some talk of opening up this canyon to qualified, experienced canyoneers in the future, but, as of 2021, that possibility seems distant.

We dropped the upper dark slot, one of the finest slots anywhere, on the first trip, and then did the middle and lower slots in one long day on a second trip. Potholes were sand-filled and dry, and partner assists were sufficient for us. The canyon is well-bolted, and, except for the upper slot, natural anchors are abundant should the bolts ever disappear.

There are hundreds of incredible canyons that are open, and it's hard to justify focusing on this closed one when there are so many others to do that don't require negotiating with the landowner.

The draw of the unknown, with the general lack of beta and photos, is what drew me to lead a group of experienced canyoneers/cavers through, and submit a summary to the owner so that, for the first time, she could see what's in the mysterious Pinon Canyon on her land.

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