A permit is needed for day trips into the canyon (which from 2004 has been 1-2 people: $10, 3-7 people: $15, 8-12 people: $20) and the lower half is subject to Zion National Park regulations, so technically an additional $25 entrance fee is due.
Photographs 17 views of Orderville Canyon
MapTopoQuest topographic map of Orderville Canyon
At first the route is either down the streambed or along paths that cut across meanders. After a 10 minute walk the canyon proper begins - a drop of 30 meters at the confluence with another ravine that joins from the south marks the point when the walls close in and become vertical. This dryfall is easily bypassed by a steep path on the left side, then from here the hike simply involves walking down the stony canyon floor for nearly 6 miles to the Virgin River.
After the dryfall the canyon has towering cliffs of Navajo sandstone and is soon about 300 feet deep, still relatively wide with sandbanks at either side, many fir trees and bushes, and occasional huge boulders fallen from the rocks above. Some of its side canyons are more slot-like, such as Walker Gulch which joins from the right after another mile.
Walking is easy along the level floor and the straight, sunny passageways, although recent rainfall may create extensive patches of clayish mud and a few pools, but there are no major obstructions until shortly before the national park boundary, around the point where the streambed begins to cover all of the canyon floor and the passages narrow noticeably. Here, a chokestone has created a 15 foot drop which can quite easily be downclimbed using an old log that has been wedged underneath for many years, although some may need a rope - if so there is a webbing attachment securely bolted to the rocks on the right hand side.
The NPS boundary is marked by a rusty sign as the good narrow section continues; now trees and bushes are found only occasionally and the canyon varies between 3 and 5 meters wide while above the water-carved, thin-layered, greyish cliffs are over 600 feet high. Red rocks appear around stream level and start to predominate as the canyon deepens, making the surroundings even more colorful and pretty. The gorge becomes somewhat wider for a while then the best and longest stretch of narrows begins and extends all the way to the Virgin River confluence. A stream starts to flow near the junction with Bullock Gulch, a side canyon on the north side.
Obstructions become more frequent as the stream flow increases - first is a 10 foot log jam, presumably temporary, which is simple to climb over using protruding tree stumps, then next is another 15 foot drop over a boulder into a pool several feet deep. Again there is a webbing attachment and several logs that can be used to aid the descent for those without ropes. A few meters directly above is another huge boulder of similar size, wedged between the canyon walls. By now the creek has clear, fast-flowing water and has many nice pools, cascades and small waterfalls. Two narrow, overgrown side canyons join in quick succession from the north, opposite 2 more on the south side, then no more until the main junction. Walking is now through water much of the time, but usually this is no more than 2 feet deep.
About half a mile from the river is the third main problem - another large chokestone that has created a 4 foot waterfall above a pool of similar depth, and here there is no alternative but to jump into the water and wade across. The final stretch has a few other deepish pools with lesser drops and becomes quite level before meeting the river, where the water is colder, deeper and flows faster. It also tends to have more hikers, exploring some of the lower end after walking up the Zion Narrows.