A less commonly known but spectacular slot canyon hike intersecting with the Narrows in Zion National Park, Orderville Gulch requires some technical canyoneering skills but is an adventure not to be missed.
Depending on road conditions, the hike may start at the upper parking area. In that case, follow the rutted road downhill 2.25 miles to the actual trailhead. From the parking area, follow the path through juniper and ponderosa pines, weaving in and around the creekbeds for about three-quarters of a mile. Drop down into the canyon proper by descending about 175 feet. There is no clear trail, but it isn't difficult to make it down the dirt slope, especially by staying to the left until you reach the canyon bottom.
In the sandy canyon bottom, hike about a mile as the gulch walls narrow in. After about 2.5 miles the obstacles begin: chokestones and log jams typically block the canyon. The first one is a chokestone with a 15-foot drop. Several, including the first two, have rappel anchors on the left side. Tie in and descend - never jump! Locals shared horror stories of broken ankles and a long trip out of the canyon! Each obstacle is slightly different and requires some scouting; most drop about 10 to 15 feet into a plunge pool. Be aware that the water is quite cold and the depth is variable depending on recent precipitation and the nature of the blockage affecting water flow. Logs and steeply sloping stones may be slick.
Most of the water in Orderville comes from springs that originate from snow seeping through Navajo sandstone over long periods of time. You may notice a trickle of water about three-quarters of a mile past the first chokestone that may change seasonally, but it quickly accumulates into an ankle- to knee-deep stream. Where the flow is less, deep mud will be unavoidable. The canyon walls tower above and the path becomes quite narrow, showcasing the spectacular geology. The last mile of the canyon is referred to as the waterpark because of its many obstacles and abundant water. After Veiled Falls, the last obstacle, you'll start encountering hikers who venture up Orderville from the Narrows.
At about 8.5 miles in you'll encounter the confluence of the Narrows and the Virgin River coming in from the right. From this point, work your way down through the Virgin River with scads of other hikers in the Narrows until you reach the paved path taking you to the Temple of Sinawava (hopefully you've arranged a shuttle!).
Gear and technical note: According to the Canyon Rating System, Orderville is rated 3B III. It is a challenging hike that takes about 8 hours. Since several cold water swims are likely, drybags and sturdy closed-toe shoes are recommended. If you'll be hiking in spring or during cool weather, waterproof clothing is helpful. Bring at least 50 feet of rope or webbing.