SUU Professor Went Out on a Rope to Produce Canyoneering Documentary

Published: September 27, 2006 | Read Time: 2 minutes

“Canyoneering the Colorado Plateau,” a documentary by Jon Smith, professor of Communication at Southern Utah University, will premier at the second annual conference of the American Canyoneering Association, October 4-5, in the middle of canyoneers’ paradise, Cedar City, Utah.

Canyoneering the Colorado Plateau, a 50-minute documentary on the sport of canyoneering, explores the geology, history and fast-growing popularity of the sport of canyoneering. Smith spent the last year adventuring right alongside canyoneers in the national parks and wild wilderness of southern Utah. Equipped with video gear modified for the physical demands of canyoneering, Smith researched, videotaped, interviewed, hiked, rappelled and swam, with a camera, to tell the story through words and the stunning scenery of the area.

The documentary is sincere in capturing the many perspectives of canyoneering. Viewers will hear from guidebook authors, land managers, canyoneering teachers and guides, search and rescue personnel, the trailblazers of the American Canyoneering Association, and many other canyoneers, on subjects ranging from the anxieties and thrills of hanging from cliffs;the history of the land; how to enjoy the sport safely through proper use of the technical gear; the importance of remaining conscientious and respectful of the land; as well as land impact and preservation concerns. But largely, this film educates and entertains on how and where to do the sport of canyoneering!

This comprehensive video premiers Wednesday, October 4, at 7 p.m. in the Starlight Room of the Sharwan Smith Student Center on the SUU campus, as part of the annual conference of the American Canyoneering Association. The screening is open to the public. General admission is $4, students $2. Producer, writer, photographer Jon Smith will be on hand for comments and questions.

This somewhat-pioneering documentary and the conference both come at a cataclysmic time at SUU and in southern Utah, as the four-year degree program in Outdoor Recreation in Parks and Tourism launched at SUU this semester, and this past summer, the University signed an Alliance for Education with Bryce Canyon National Park. Interested attendees can catch a sneak peak of the documentary film at and learn more about the ORPT degree at

The Canyoneering Conference, co-sponsored by the Southern Utah University Outdoor Recreation Center, will offer a host of hands-on workshops and discussions on subjects like recreational canyoneering, professional guiding, land management and preservation, backcountry ranging, search and rescue, tourism and travel, and outdoor gear usage and deals, all centered around the human dynamics within the sport and the locations at which it takes place.
Conference attendees are invited to stay through the weekend to participate in the ACA's Canyon Rendezvous of canyoneering trips, departing from the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort. Other rendezvous activities include skills workshops, a bbq, gear swap, door prizes and raffles. For more ACA information, go to the conference link at

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