Wilson Mountain Canyon

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Wilson Mountain Canyon Canyoneering Canyoning Caving
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Wilson Mountain Canyon Banner.jpg

Difficulty:3A II (v3a1 II)
Raps:‌5, max ↨105ft
Overall:4-6h ⟷3.3mi
Approach: ↑1200ft
Red Tape:No permit required
Condition Reports:
4 Nov 2023

"There is currently a hive of very aggressive yellow jackets at the bottom of the first rappel. The first member of our party was swarmed by 100+ yello

(log in to submit report)
Best season:
winter, spring, fall


Although the technical section is short and there is nothing approaching narrows, one or two of the rappels are fun and the scenery is nice, making Wilson Mountain Canyon a decent, casual outing.

Parking for the trailhead is in a small lot on the north side of Midgley Bridge (if there are any spaces available - this is a popular parking area) off of AZ89 about 1.3 miles north of Sedona.


From the car park, hike straight and north past the restrooms and ramada to begin hiking on Wilson Canyon Trail #49. Take the right branch at a Y junction soon afterward following signs for Wilson Canyon Trail and Jim Thompson Trail. Continue straight past the junction with the Jim Thompson Trail which turns to the left after roughly .5 mile. At around one mile look for a minor drainage that comes in from the right - this is the drainage that will take you up to the top of the canyon, but the drainage is fairly indistinct and can be a bit tricky to locate. I placed a small rock cairn behind a tree (so as to not lead hikers astray) right next to the trail and another, larger cairn in the drainage itself that will help lead the way - should they still be standing - if you reach a trail marker that states "end of trail", you have gone too far. Follow the cairns and hike up this drainage that is brushy and bouldery at first, but soon turns to slick rock. Climb up the slick rock until you reach small cliffs that you cannot surmount, then leave the watercourse of the drainage to the left and begin hiking up on the ridge. Thrash your way up this sometimes steep slope until you can see the first rappel and the head of the canyon on your left - a few cairns may help lead the way.


R1 105' - Rappel off a large cypress tree above the waterway RDC. Can be done as 100' rap with but-slide last 5 feet down to base though is awkward

      • Alternate R1 (better option) - downclimb into watercourse and rappel off rock RDC. Less chance of rockfall off this watercourse rappel.

R2 95’ – Rappel off pine tree 30 yards LDC from R1

R3 60’ – Rappel off chock stone in middle of waterway 40 yards DC from R2

R4 105’ – Rappel off small pine tree in the middle of the water way 50 yards DC from R3. Can rappel with shorter rope and down climb, or bypass the entire rappel by down climbing RDC

R5 70’ – Two options – Rappel off tree RDC near water course, or off tree 15 yards LDC from waterway. R5 is 300 yards DC from R4


Head left onto the Wilson Canyon Trail for the remaining one mile hike back to the parking area.

Red tape

A Red Rock pass is required to park in the area for $5 per vehicle, per day - federal interagency passes are also accepted.

Beta sites

Trip reports and media



Information provided by automated processes. KML map by (unknown). Main photo by (unknown). Authors are listed in chronological order.

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