The Medieval Chamber is a very pleasant adventure into one of the area’s finest canyons. The lower canyon is lush, with a clear running stream and a massive natural arch. The canyon’s upper reaches are bounded by an awesome array of petrified sand dunes. Connecting the two sections, well…..gets interesting. You see, situated halfway along the canyon’s journey to the Colorado River lie two of the most spectacular rappels found anywhere on Mother Earth. This trip is great for beginners who want a taste for our Moab canyon tours that will leave them begging for more!
After a short hike from the trailhead we reach the route’s namesake feature, a deep vertical shaft of sandstone creating the first drop. After a few minutes of discussing gear and technique you’ll clip into the rope and peer over the edge, the light of day obscures your view of what awaits at the bottom. You immerse yourself into its darkness. The overhanging walls and smooth sandy floor of this well-hidden grotto become apparent once your eyes adjust. At the bottom you’ll probably think you’re in a different world than the others still at the top. Behind you, the Keyhole, a subtle and narrow passageway, provides escape from the Chamber’s seemingly exitless confines.
Once all down, we continue on and are soon presented with the massive Morning Glory Arch. Despite being the seventh longest arch in the world , it is discreetly shoehorned into the canyon and we quickly find ourselves level with the top of the 243′ long span. The canyon floor plummets 100 feet below. As you begin your descent to the canyon bottom, the wall sweeps away and leaves you free-hanging. Be sure to look around and down into the lush green canyon below! While on rappel, you can turn to see the arch behind you – this is a view of the arch that you’re sure not to forget.
In the hotter months, the clear pools of water begat from this spring provide welcome relief and reward to those who overcome this route’s notorious roped descents. The hike out follows the Grandstaff Canyon (formerly known as Negro Bill Canyon) trail.
Entrajo Canyon is a playful canyon that is great for beginners and experienced canyoneers alike! This 2-mile loop hike offers amazing scenery, fun challenges and problem-solving, a couple of rappels and an exciting romp through pools of water. Your patient and experienced guide will teach you the techniques required to make your way through this classic desert slot canyon while teaching you about the surrounding environment and ensuring that you have a safe and enjoyable tour through the canyon!
In its short length, Entrajo runs the gamut of most everything that has come to define canyoneering: simple hiking through beautiful wide canyons, long mesatop views toward distant mountain ranges, struggling through tight narrow canyon walls and interlocking potholes of water – and, of course, climbing gear. A jaunt through Entrajo Canyon involves the use of ropes, carabiners, harnesses, helmets, spring loaded camming devices, retrievable Slick!® anchors and other nifty tools of the trade used to allow curious canyoneers access to the desert’s deep, dark – and beautiful – recesses.
This route is moderately challenging, yet supremely scenic and rewarding. One short rappel within a series of scoured out potholes is necessary to safely hike through the canyon. The finale of the technical section includes a swim through chilly water – refreshing during the summer months, though this quality prohibits us from comfortably visiting this canyon in all but the hottest months of the year. Pleasant hiking following the swim places us on a bench high above the trailhead. A second rappel here gently brings us to within a stone’s throw of the start – a fine finish to a wonderful morning of exploring one of Moab’s most unique canyons.
Zig Zag Canyon is a winding, circuitous loop hike that has us gaining and then losing several hundred feet of elevation spread out over three miles of exploration. Like most Desert Highlights trips, this is an original route that we have developed in response to the increasing difficulty of getting away from the crowds and immersing oneself in sandstone majesty. We travel through amazing terrain that has not been seen by many, and we end the day with a spectacular 220-foot rappel that is sure to leave you feeling proud, accomplished and full of bragging rights.
The day begins with a brief stroll out to a unique rock art panel. These petroglyphs were pecked and carved into the rock by ancestral native groups 700 to 1500 years ago. The unbroken slickrock walls surrounding us yield only the occasional weakness and we must seek one out to begin the climb to the top. Mostly third class, this section involves the use of our hands and feet to progress upwards. The occasional use of rope will be utilized in the more exposed sections to protect against a fall. We will set a slow pace and take plenty of breaks along this scrambling (easy climbing) section.
Finally, our first rappel is in sight! At 30 feet, this low angle ramp is a great place to learn how to rappel under the careful instruction of your knowledgeable guide. A short walk down canyon brings us to the next rappel. Another 30 foot drop twists down through a beautiful corkscrew. Occasionally, the corkscrew holds water, but with a little cunning it can be avoided. Finishing this twisty rap delivers us onto a small platform with a truly mega dry falls just beyond it. Not for the faint of heart, this 220 foot drop begins as a free-hanging rappel followed by a steep wall that brings us to the canyon floor.
With all of the excitement and hard work behind us, the bottom of this deep canyon is a wonderful place to stop, look around and eat a well deserved lunch.
Very few day hikes contain as many exquisite natural arches as the journey through Granary Canyon. And what a journey it is! Six fantastic rappels and a lot of tricky scrambling are encountered within the depths of this remote canyon, which houses at least seven major arches and scores of smaller ones. Over the course of this one-way hike we’ll descend over 2,000 feet! And despite the day’s numerous rappels, this hike is within reason for adventurous first-time rappellers. One highlight unique to this trip is a serendipitous visit to one of the area’s best-preserved Anasazi granaries. This is a prehistoric rock structure (~900 AD) used to store harvested goodies.
Soon after leaving the trailhead, we’ll begin dropping into the canyon. The first rappel provides a great introduction to the day’s numerous roped descents. It is short, beautiful and into a fine bowl of slickrock which soon yields the canyon’s first spectacular arch.
Further down canyon, more obstacles present themselves and require us to do a bit of scrambling where ropes are occasionally used for quick belays or handlines. The climbing in this canyon is not too hard – just enough to be interesting! More incredible scenery and arches are passed (“Was that one the fifth or sixth?” someone asks…) before reaching the second rappel.
This rappel (called “The Snail”) along with the third (“The Onion”) and fourth rappels are in fairly quick succession. They place us deep into the heart of Granary Canyon; a place full of beauty! And, of course, more arches. Somewhere in this vicinity we’ll happen upon a scenic lunch spot and relax for a bit, admire the surroundings, revel in the remoteness and tally our arches.
A rather entertaining, arboreal rappel – in combination with a seemingly magnetic pothole traverse – keeps our hearts pounding, smiles widening and cameras flashing through this, the deepest recess of Granary Canyon.
Upon exiting the heart of the canyon, its streambed snakes across a fine meadow bordered by low cliffs with…alas, no arches. Ironically, the last and tallest of the canyon’s rappels occurs in its shallowest section. This in no way belittles the rappel, of course (we figure any 200 foot rappel demands respect!).
This beautiful and charming canyon provides a great adventure during the heat of the summer. With it’s clear flowing water and short (but very sweet) slot section, Pleiades Canyon is an excellent outing for adventurous beginners or experienced canyoneers that want something a little different. Situated at 9,000 feet above sea level, Pleiades Canyon offers a great escape from the hot, dry desert and offers views that can’t be seen from any other canyon around. We’ll don wetsuits and splash gear as a way to keep warm while we’re rappelling through several flowing waterfalls that are fed by snowmelt and natural springs in the beautiful La Sal Mountains!
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.
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 out 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. At either one of the two spots in the slot where its wide enough to relax, a well-deserved lunch appears. We’ll then continue down canyon as more obstacles present themselves, finally arriving back at our vehicle with memories to last a lifetime.
Poison Springs Canyon
The Poison Springs Canyons offer some of the most dramatic and fun canyoneering that Southern Utah has to offer. These canyons are deep, dark, narrow and combine charming rappels with fun down-climbing to make a full day of canyon exploration that will leave you grinning from ear to ear.
We begin at the top of these canyons, but as we look out from the car park no canyons are in sight – nothing but endless rolling desert in every direction with a distant view of the Henry Mountains. After hiking in a seemingly random direction away from the vehicle, our canyon slowly comes into view below us. The flat world surrounding us begins to yield a minor drainage. After a rappel or two, it becomes apparent that the Poison Springs canyon system holds some of the deepest canyons around.
Admiring the smooth water polished walls, we continue downstream negotiating a few small downclimbs along the way. Depending on our chosen route, we may encounter a few more rappels or simply use a rope as a handline and practice our teamwork skills as we help each other navigate each drop.
Soon the canyon opens back up and we must make our way back up to the vehicle. Hiking up and over ancient sand dunes, we have a chance to look down into the canyon we’ve just spent the day descending.
Come check out what makes Moab rock climbing so unique! The sandstone landscapes surrounding us have eroded into a virtual playground of walls, towers, ridges and canyons. Rock Climbing in Moab can be good any time of the year. We chase shade in the summer and sun in the winter. With several different crags to choose from, we can cater to everyone’s abilities and goals. Since no one will ever be added to your group, our guides will truly give you their undivided attention and expert instruction.
We provide all the technical gear that you’ll need for your day of climbing with us, except climbing shoes. These can be rented at Pagan Mountaineering or Gearheads in Moab.
Medieval Chamber Canyoneering & Packrafting Combo
Combining one of our half-day canyoneering adventures with an afternoon of packrafting is an excellent way to spend a full day in Moab. We begin the morning with ropes and harnesses and we descend through some of the area’s most beautiful terrain. We’ll hike a mile to our first rappel and descend 100 feet into the depths of the Medieval Chamber. We’ll then enjoy a second rappel next to one of the largest natural arches around. After a gorgeous 2 mile hike out, we’ll hop in the van and take a scenic ride along the Colorado River where we’ll stop for a delicious lunch and learn about the wonders of packrafting and river safety. Here, we’ll launch at our chosen “put-in” and enjoy a relaxing and scenic float down the mighty Colorado!
This is one of the most enjoyable trips in the Moab area, especially in the hot summer months when being on the water in the afternoon is a real blessing. The day’s awesome technical challenges in the canyon and the fun whitewater on the river make it a very unique and memorable adventure.
Entrajo Canyon & Packrafting Combo
Entrajo Canyon is a playful canyon that is great for beginners and experienced canyoneers alike! This 2-mile loop hike offers amazing scenery, full challenges and problem-solving, a couple of rappels and an exciting romp through pools of water. Your patient and experienced guide will teach you the techniques required to make your way through this beautiful red rock slot canyon while teaching you about the surrounding environment and ensuring that you have a safe and enjoyable adventure!
Once we’ve had our fill of canyoneering, we’ll hop in the van and take a scenic ride along the Colorado River where we’ll stop for a delicious lunch and learn about the wonders of packrafting and river safety. Packrafts are one-person inflatable boats that are lightweight and pack down to the size of a tent. This allows us to walk a short distance to any non-standard put-in along the river, so we can choose a section that accommodates your group – choose anything from class II (sometimes III) rapids to an easy flat-water float. We want you to enjoy your time on the river, so the choice is yours!
Pedal Paddle Pedal
The “Pedal, Paddle, Pedal” is destined to become one of the most classic mountain biking and packrafting trips in the West. The legendary Green River and its beautiful side canyons provide both a peaceful and exciting venue for this unforgettable day of exploring some very remote backcountry.
Our day starts bright and early with a very enjoyable downhill mountain bike ride along the mesa top high above the Green River gorge. Easy, carefree pedaling soon leads to the rim of Spring Canyon, a very deep and rugged tributary of the Green. A spectacular dirt road carved into the sheer walls of Spring Canyon switchback down, down, down into the depths of one of the prettiest canyons around Moab.
This old road was blasted out over 50 years ago to access the rich deposits of uranium located in the lower end of the canyon. The mine sites have long since been abandoned and the dead-end road largely forgotten. Solitude, peace and quiet reign down here. The road rolls and weaves gently along the canyon floor amidst tall stands of cottonwood trees and sheer 500 foot high sandstone walls.
The exhilarating downhill ride quickly brings us to the lonely junction of Spring Canyon and the Green River. It’s here where we enter the magnificent Labyrinth Canyon carved by the Green River. The road veers to follow along the river’s edge downstream for another couple of miles.
Within those miles is some of the most incredible, true wilderness scenery Labyrinth Canyon has to offer. There are no roads to be found, no noisy vehicles or crowds. Just quiet wilderness. Several beautiful side canyons flow into the Green, including Two Mile and Horseshoe. Precarious towers of sandstone soar high above us on either side.