Irish Canyons – Hanksville Canyoneering


Short hikes to stunning narrows and fun slot canyon exploration!

Nestled in the North Wash canyon system, the Irish Canyons are an excellent choice for those looking to get into more narrow, technical slot canyons. Many options exist, whether you’re looking for an introduction to navigating slot canyons, or an experience that will challenge you both physically and mentally. Featuring short approach hikes, long sections of narrows and many fun obstacles, these canyons are sure to deliver!

Upon booking, we’ll choose a canyon that best fits your groups abilities and meets your goals.

  • Reviews 2 Reviews
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
  • Activity Level Easy to Difficult - Customized for your group!
All about the Irish Canyons – Hanksville Canyoneering.
  • Duration: 5-7 hours (canyon time)
  • Difficulty: Easy – Difficult, depending on canyon choice
  • Total Hiking Distance: 3 – 4 miles
  • Rappels: Dependent on chosen route, usually a few between 20 and 80 feet
  • Minimum Age: We suggest a minimum age of 9 for Irish Canyon trips. Exceptions are sometimes made, so please give us a call or shoot us an email to discuss your options.
  • Distance from Moab: 2 hours, one-way; Option to add scenic flight instead of driving (one-way)
  • Distance from Hanksville: 25 minutes. Ask us about this option if you’re traveling to or from Capitol Reef National Park
  • This canyon can be part of a Multi-day tour
  • Season: All year, best in spring and fall
  • All trips are private – just your group and your guide!
    • 1 Person – $650
    • Group of 2 – $328/person
    • Group of 3 – $295/person
    • Group of 4 or more – $273/person
    • Please call for availability if your group has 14 or more people in it

For some folks, squeezing through narrow “slot canyons” is the ultimate in Canyoneering. Though typically dry with no flowing water, these canyons have been carved from several millions of years of infrequent flash floods. Blarney Canyon, and it’s nearby “big brother” Leprechaun Canyon, showcase some of the narrowest slots in the deserts of Utah. Here you can explore the stunning sandstone hallway of “Belfast Boulevard.”

The approach hike consists of easy walking over ancient sand dunes. As we work our way up to the top of the canyon, distant views towards Lake Powell and the Henry Mountains become more dramatic. We’ll talk about the interesting geology and history of the area, or just gaze in awe at the jaw-dropping scenery.

Upon reaching the head of our chosen canyon, we’ll don technical canyoneering gear and body armor (knee pads!) We’ll spend some time talking about rappelling, down-climbing technique and offering pro-tips for descending the canyon in style. Once we’ve made our way into the slot, chimney after chimney is encountered, all of which are great fun with plenty of problem solving. There are even a few rappels buried somewhere in the midst of this madness! Similar to – but much longer than – Entrajo Canyon, this is a fantastic slot for those wanting to get started on a lifetime of exploring technical slot canyons. While these slots can be serious work – they are serious fun!

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
  • All canyoneering gear and safety equipment
  • Instruction from experienced and fun guides
  • Transportation to and from the canyon
  • Private tour – just your group plus your guide(s)!
What is not included in this tour?Items that are not included in the cost of tour price.
  • Lunch and snacks – please bring enough food to be out and active for 5-7 hours
  • Water – we recommend at least 2 liters of water per person
  • You’re welcome to leave snacks and water in the vehicle for the ride back to Moab.

We rate our canyoneering trips based on physical difficulty. The Irish Canyon complex has a lot of different canyons to choose from. In general, these canyons feature many narrow sections where we’re turning sideways and scooting between walls to make progress downstream. Some have more downclimbs than others, more rappels than others, and some cover more distance than others. Therefore, we can choose a canyon that is appropriate for your group’s experience and abilities.

Absolutely! Our private tours allow us to spend plenty of time at the top of each rappel going over rappel technique, answering questions, etc. On every rappel, you will be backed up with a second rope that the guide can use to slow you down or take over control if necessary. You’ll “learn the ropes” and be able to control your own speed, but you’ll never be 100% on your own.

Probably not. These canyons feature long sections of narrows where you likely have to take your pack off and drag it behind you while you turn sideways to scoot along. These water-carved narrows are beautiful, and a treat to see, but you likely won’t enjoy the beauty if you are claustrophobic. Consider something closer to Moab where the canyons are much wider.

The Irish Canyons are rough on gear! These canyons have you sliding on your butt in many places, so you’ll want to wear clothing that you don’t mind scuffing up. Consider buying a cheap pair of pants from your local thrift store so you won’t be heartbroken when they get a small (or big!) tear in them – especially if you’re spending a couple of days in these canyons with us!

It’s nice to wear pants and a long-sleeved shirt if the weather allows – the more coverage for your skin, the better. You can check the weather here before your trip.

Please visit our FAQ page for answers to general questions about canyoneering.

Overall Rating
Reviewed On 10/12/2019

My husband, our two friends and I spent three days exploring slot canyons with Desert Highlights in February of this year. We had a great experience. The canyons were spectacular, the rappels and downclimbs were managed safely, and the experience was totally tailored to our skill level/fitness/comfort with heights. Lunch was delicious and we even enjoyed the car ride to and from, which allowed us time to ask questions and learn about the local area - everything from geology to where to get the best Mexican food. An all-around great experience that I would recommend to anyone!

Reviewed On 24/04/2018

Leprechaun Canyon was incredible! There was a good hike in with great views to start with. Once we got to the canyon itself the challenge began - but Melissa and Jamie were so helpful, so patient and so personable that although it was hard, it was also so fun and rewarding! I highly recommend this trip!