Desert Highlights    One Day Canyoneering Adventures

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Optional Scenic Flights
Take a different approach into you next canyoneering adventure!


Half Day Trips (3-6 hours)
• Medieval Chamber (Easy)
{short description of image} Entrajo Canyon (Moderate)

Full Day Trips (6-10 hours)
{short description of image} Pleiades Canyon (Moderate)
{short description of image} The Black Hole (Moderate) FLY!
• Blarney Canyon (Moderate) FLY!
{short description of image} Dipper Creek Canyon (Moderate)
• Granary Canyon (Moderate)

Packraft Canyoneering and Biking !!!
• Medieval Chamber & Packrafting (Easy)
• The "Pedal, Paddle, Pedal" (Moderate)

{short description of image} = Wet Canyon! Waterfalls, swims, etc.
FLY! = Optional flight to/from canyon
Whether you're interested in a casual family outing for a few hours or a relentless epic with a few of your most adventurous (or gullible) buddies, spend some time perusing this page. For you, my friend, have just stumbled onto a outfit that's gauranteed to offer an incredible experience. Welcome to the unmapped and unforgettable!

Desert Highlights' one day and half day canyoneering adventures are a fantastic way to see the backcountry surrounding Moab. The rappels and lofty locations encountered along these routes offer visitors an exciting and unique perspective of the town's amazing wilderness environs. Our canyoneering trips appeal to a wide range of folks. Despite the fact that all of these hikes require the used of ropes and elementary climbing skills, no previous climbing or rappelling experience is necessary. We'll teach you "the ropes" while hiking through amazing desert backcountry. Throughout each hike, an increasing knowledge of new-fangled gear and techniques will raise your confidence and enable you to venture into places that are hard to visit and even harder to describe.

Check out the photos below and at our Trip Reports and Testimonials

page to see what you're getting into. You'll find lots of smiles -- always a good sign. You'll also find lots of incredible beauty and adventure. Perhaps your smile will soon be gracing these pages...


As you can imagine, there are many wonderful canyons out there situated far from the convenience of a road. Some of these canyons descend into larger canyons which contain rivers, large creeks or some other body of water. Often these waterways allow - even require - the use of a boat to traverse. What to do when the canyon you just rappelled down ends up at such a watery terminus? You inflate your packraft, of course!

Packrafts are ultra-lightweight, ultra-durable one person rafts. They weigh less than five pounds and pack down into a neat package not much bigger than a loaf of bread. Four-piece, collapsable paddles - weighing in at only 28-ounces - fit neatly in the sides of a pack and provide the necessary propulsion while on the water. Though small and extremely lightweight, these boats aren't pool toys. They are extremely durable, highly manueverable, high quality watercraft designed for whitewater and remote regions. We use the finest packrafts available, made by a small company called Alpacka Raft in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

In addition to being great tools for canyoneering, packrafts also can be coupled with mountain bikes to create amazing, self-supported "pedal and paddle" explorations of Moab's legendary bike trails and rivers.

Packrafts make many of the impossible canyons and rides possible. And not only do they make them possible, they make them tons of fun! Combining canyoneering and rafting to accomplish a singular goal of exploring a beautful canyon is one of the most fun, most rewarding days you can have in the backcountry.

If you're looking for a unique, beautiful and exciting day of adventure in the backcountry, join us for a day of packraft canyoneering or packraft mountain biking!

Desert Highlights Logo
50 East Center St.
PO Box 1342
Moab, Utah 84532
(800) 747-1342
(435) 259-4433
www.deserthighlights.com
info@deserthighlights.com


Gallery of Medieval Chamber Trip Images
Like torture? Look elsewhere, because 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. The first seems to journey right into the very heart of her. The second reminds you that she is a very exciting and beautiful woman.

After a short hike from the trailhead we reach the route's namesake feature, a deep vertical shaft of sandstone creating the first drop. Indeed, from above it looks ominous and, you're now thinking, well named. 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. You'll probably also think that the rappel wasn't as terrifying as you thought it'd be! Behind you, the Keyhole, a subtle and narrow passageway, provides escape from the Chamber's seemingly exitless confines.


Click names for
Trip Photos

"Absolutely the scariest thing I've ever done!"
Marge Kathrein
San Rafael, CA

"The hiking was spectacular, the rappelling was outrageous and your guiding skills were top notch."
Paul de Labry
Norwalk, CT

Gallery of Medieval Chamber Trip Images

Once all down, we continue on and are soon presented with a very interesting scenario. The massive Morning Glory Arch - despite being the seventh longest arch in the world - 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. Since we've just pulled our ropes at the Chamber, there's no way out but to rappel and this rappel is one of the most spectacular in the Moab area. As we walk out on the middle of the arch it becomes obvious that there are no anchors on top. Hmm. Time to find a partner! Next, we'll simply drape the rope over the arch and you and your trusting partner simultaneously rappel off opposite sides and counterweight one another! Well, there's more to it than that, of course, but we'll discuss details in the canyon Needless to say, it's an amazing rappel in a spectacular setting. This special experience, which requires two guides, is only offered by Desert Highlights.

Below this awesome span a lively spring gushes transforming the canyon from a dry, shallow-walled slickrock valley to a deep redrock gorge carpeted with lush colorful plantlife. 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 Negro Bill Canyon trail, which is a very enjoyable stroll. If you plan to hike the Medieval Chamber route with us then we recommend you not hike the Negro Bill Canyon trail beforehand since we have to hike out that trail anyway. This is, by far, the most interesting way to see that canyon!

This is one of the wildest half-day trips in the Moab area. Its proximity to town and its awesome rappels makes it a sure bet for a memorable adventure. And though experienced canyoneers will find the rappels breathtaking, the trip is enjoyable even for novice canyoneers. As daunting as the rappels sound, with a good guide everyone does just fine.

If you're looking for a very unique way to extend your adventure into the Medieval Chamber and turn this into a great full day trip then definitely consider adding an afternoon half-day whitewater Packraft trip to this hike. Rappelling down the Medieval Chamber and Morning Glory Arch and then paddling your own awesome little packraft through rapids on the Colorado River makes for one heck of a day! Read more about this trip on our Packraft Adventures page.

What's in a name? With a name like Medieval Chamber, you've just gotta ask. In 1994, I moved to Moab and became friends with another freshly transplanted dreamer, mountain bike legend-to-be Fred Wilkinson from Ontario Canada. One of our first hikes together found us following a sandy wash on a hot summer day. Abruptly, the wash dropped out of sight into a most bizarre sandstone abyss. As Fred squinted his sweat-stung eyes trying to see down into the dark depths, he casually remarked that "it looks like some sort of medieval torture chamber down there." How irresistable! So we returned early the next day with ropes to have a closer look. The setting at the bottom of the chamber was more amazing than we could have ever imagined! In the years that followed we led visiting friends, locals - anyone, really - into this wild place, somehow luring them with tales of the "Medieval Torture Chamber." Despite our name, it proved to be a most enjoyable hike. Well, we eventually became responsible citizens; Fred became a founder of the Chile Pepper Bike Shop and I founded Desert Highlights. Of course, now that I had turned pro I realized that some may not be as charmed by our canyon's name as our friends, so I reluctanctly abbreviated the name. More recently the canyon has been called Morning Glory Canyon or Ephedra's Grotto, but Medieval Chamber is the name that has stuck the most. -Matt


Medieval Chamber

Beautiful Hiking and Dramatic Rappels
including
Moab's exclusive Simul-Rappel!


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Price: $120 each (2 people) $108 each (3 or more)
Add on an exciting half-day of whitewater packrafting for an additional $65/person. Learn more at our Packrafting Adventures page.

Length: 4 to 6 hours roundtrip from Moab (includes 30 minutes round-trip driving time). Trips depart at 8:00 AM and 3:00 PM. Trips depart 7:00 AM in June, July and August.

Season: All year

Physical Difficulty: Easy

Technical Difficulty: Moderate

Rappels: 2 - (90ft/27m, 100ft/30m)

Total Distance: 3mi/2km

Total Descent: 626ft/191m

Min & Max Elevation: 4196ft/1279m & 4659ft/1420m


Gallery of Entrajo Canyon Trip Images
Oftentimes in canyoneering we find ourselves descending into unlikely places where most folks normally wouldn't desire to go. Canyoneers get muddy, shuffle through tight canyon passages, rappel down awkward dropoffs and of course wade and swim through pools of water. Why?! Maybe it's curiosity that compels? Perhaps the chance of stumbling upon a place more beautiful? If any of this sounds enticing to you, Entrajo Canyon is the place to be!

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, hooks, 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.

Gallery of Entrajo Canyon Trip Images
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.

Complementing the scenery are geologic curios that litter the canyon - a stately natural arch perched on the canyon rim, strangely eroded hoodoos, glacial erratics, crossbedded rock layers and Jurassic-aged burrow casts. The geologic story of this canyon is quite different than that of the other canyons in the Moab area and a good bit of time is spent learning about this geologically fascinating area.

Entrajo Canyon
(en-TRAH-ho)

Adventurous hike with lots of variety!


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Price: $95/person + 7.85% tax. 10% discount if trip has three or more people.

Length: 5 hours roundtrip from Moab (includes 45 minutes round-trip driving time). Trips depart at 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM.

Season: April through September

Physical Difficulty: Moderate

Technical Difficulty: Moderate

Rappels: 2 - (10ft/3m, 80ft/24m)

Climbing: None.

Swims: One section of possible swimming (depending on recent rains) and some wading.

Total Distance: 2mi/3km

Total Ascent/Descent: 425ft/130m

Min & Max Elevation: 5597ft/1706m & 5775ft/1760m



Pleiades Canyon
(PLEE-a-deez)

Wild rappels through waterfalls in a
truly beautiful alpine slot canyon!


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Price: $170/person + 7.85% tax. Price includes wetsuits, splash gear, canyoneering shoes and socks, packs, drybags, all technical gear, lunch, and bottled water.

Length: All Day. Trips depart at 8:00 AM.

Season: Mid-May through September

Physical Difficulty: Moderate

Technical Difficulty: Moderate

Rappels: 7 - (ranging from 10ft/3m to 60ft/18m)



Pleiades Pronounce Primer
Alcyone Al-SEE-ah-knee
Electra as in Carmen !
Merope MAIR-ah-pee
Sterope STAIR-ah-pee
Celæno suh-LEE-no
Taygeta ta-YIDGE-eh-ta
(rhymes with ridge)
Maia MY-a


Climbing: Easy. A couple "fourth class" obstacles. See FAQ for descriptions of the various "classes" of climbing.

Total Distance: 3mi/5km

Total Ascent/Descent: 820ft/250m




Getting the Cold Shoulder?
Just ask Orion - the Pleiades can be a bit chilly. The water can be, anyway... Considering this we outfit everyone with high-quality wetsuits and splash gear from Northwest River Supplies. We understand that most folks don't visit the desert southwest in the summer packing warm gear. If you have your own suits, great, otherwise we've got you...uh, covered.

We also outfit everyone with the finest canyoneering shoes from Five Ten and La Sportiva. These shoes are specifically designed for wet canyons and ensure the best available footing and comfort.

The Pleiades of Greek mythology were the seven daughters of the titan Atlas and Pleione. Attendants to Artemis, goddess of the wilderness, the striking beauty of the seven sisters was legendary. This was not lost on the great hunter Orion who pursued them fervently the world over. Tiring of their incessant stalker, the girls prayed to the gods for help. Zeus, in a rare display of lascivious restraint, helped the nubile nymphs escape the virile archer - not with his usual modus operandi of hiding them conveniently in his bed - rather by turning them into...doves? Hey, at least he got Orion off their backs and gave us a really cool star cluster to admire in the night sky.

Gallery of Pleiades Canyon Trip Images
It almost seems as big a myth to hear tell of a real-world canyon which is befittingly graced with their name. But it's true, Pleiades Canyon exists and it is an unimaginable canyon within an already unimaginable landscape. Within this canyon seven waterfalls - each named for one of the sisters - delicately weave their way through a breathtaking paradise of water-sculpted sandstone. And just like each of the girls, each rappel has its own unique charm.

The first rappel is Alcyone Falls, a short and beautiful drop into a boulder-choked cave. Looking down into the chaotic spray from above may make you wonder just what exactly you've gotten yourself into! You hesitate a bit, not quite sure what to expect. With your harness securely fastened, your descender clipped into the rope and your guide attentively minding your belay rope and offering advice, you eventually descend into the noise. Slowly you enter the water's current and into a seeming deluge of force you'd swear was Niagara Falls. That small unassuming creek you first stepped across at the beginning of the hike seems a whole 'nother animal now! Within seconds you realize it's actually quite manageable and this new sensation becomes comfortable - even peaceful. All too soon you reach the bottom, unclip and think "That wasn't too bad - in fact it was downright exhilarating!" You step off to the side and relish this misty otherworld of water and rock. With camera ready you eagerly await your partners' reactions as they clip in for their descent. Sadly your turn is over; Alcyone Falls is above you now. Nonetheless you quickly realize - with a huge grin - that she's got six sisters and the day has just begun!

Gallery of Pleiades Canyon Trip Images
The subsequent hike downstream through rocky cascades is lovely. Moss, lichens and a host of other lush flora line the corridor of clear flowing water. You soon note a significant "horizon line" up ahead which provides that subtle hint that the next big descent, Electra Falls, is near. Sure enough, within minutes you're clipped back into the rope and again staring down into that fantastic falling water. This time you can't wait!

The enjoyment in Pleiades Canyon is non-stop. You face rappel after rappel and the excitement is hard to contain. After Electra, the devilish little Merope Falls spits you out onto a large shelf atop Sterope Falls. The shelf here is often embellished with a beam of sunshine creating a fantastic rainbow in the mist. From this vantage the views both up and downcanyon are amazing. At the bottom of Sterope Falls lies an equally impressive scene - a cavernous rock hollow with a delightful clear pool and flat rock ledges. With the wide curtain of Sterope's water as a visual and audible backdrop, this dim misty lair is worthy as the home of any mythical miscreant. It also marks the beginning of a wild rock tunnel within which lurks the dark Celæno Falls. Yes, tunnel. It's eerily spectacular!

Just when you think it can't possibly get any prettier, you reach Taygeta Falls, one of the longest and most elegant rappels of the day. Her gentle lower-angle course sinuously snakes through an ornately polished, narrow flume with lichen covered walls glowing green. Throughout this rappel the water braids between channels and ridges, mixing and splitting in a playful dance with your feet. And don't forget to smile, too!

Brilliant beams of sunshine begin appearing ahead on the canyon walls marking the imminent arrival at the final "exit" rappel where we depart the confines of the narrow canyon. This is the exquisite Maia Falls, the eldest sister and arguably the most beautiful of the seven waterfalls. We could describe this rappel at length, too, but honestly we've simply run out of adjectives. Just compress the preceding half-dozen paragraphs into one sentence and you'll get the idea.

Pleiades Canyon is amazing. It can be enjoyed all year long but without a doubt the most enjoyable time of year is May through September. This is a very special first-class hike and a guaranteed respite from Moab's intense summer heat.


Gallery of Black Hole Images
The Black Hole of White Canyon is one of earth's finest products of erosion. It is perhaps the most beautiful and exciting of all the narrow slot canyon hikes in southern Utah.

Several lengthy sections of this intense one-day hike require swimming through deep pools of water. Wetsuits and PFDs (lifejackets) are always provided, as they are mandatory for safe passage through this remarkable canyon. Dry bags are also provided to help keep all of your gear out of the water.

A journey through the Black Hole is one of life’s sweetest achievements. The rewards of visiting this magical place are beyond description. The canyon’s ornately polished, convoluted sandstone walls provide a surreal canvas for the dancing reflections of water and light. They also create an ideal sanctuary for your own reflections on the importance of remote and wild places, the remarkable forces of nature and your own personal outdoor accomplishments. Wow!!!

Gallery of Black Hole Trip Images
Trips depart early in the morning after a last minute check of the weather forecast. A clear forecast is necessary for safety. An early evening return to Moab follows one hell of a day down in the canyon.

There are no rappels along this route, though there is a fair bit of tricky terrain where short ropes are set for handlines and lowering packs. This is a fantastic trip for ambitious hikers looking for an adventurous introduction to canyoneering!



The Black Hole

Long swims through one of the desert's most amazing slot canyons!


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Price: $195/person + 7.85% tax. A minimum of three (3) people is required for this trip. 10% discount if trip has four or more people.

Length: 10 to 12 hours roundtrip from Moab. Trips depart at 7:00 AM.

Season: April through October

Physical Difficulty: Moderate

Technical Difficulty: Easy - Moderate

Swims: There are many swims in this canyon, ranging from ten feet to several hundred feet long. We will be wearing full wetsuits and PFDs for comfort and safety.

Climbing: Several "fourth class" and "fifth class"downclimbs up to 10ft/3m. Ropes may be used for handlines or belays. Most downclimbs are in very tight chimneys which are secure, but awkward. This canyon has many sections of great obstacles! See FAQ for descriptions of the various "classes" of climbing.

Total Distance: 6mi/km

Total Ascent: 745ft/227m

Total Descent: 365ft/111m

Min & Max Elevation: 4196ft/1279m & 4546ft/1386m



Blarney Canyon

A wonderfully accessible "archetype" of Utah's technical slot canyons!


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Price: $180/person + 7.85% tax. A minimum of three (3) people is required for this trip. 10% discount if trip has four or more people. "Puddle Shuttle" is $5/puddle.

For Flight Option add:

2 people: $180/person
3 people: $120/person
4 people: $175/person
5 people: $140/person
6 people: $115/person

(Prices approximate; call for info)


Length: 10 to 12 hours roundtrip from Moab (includes 4 hours round-trip driving time). Trips depart at 7:00 AM. The Flight Option shaves about two hours off the above roundtrip time.

Season: All year

Physical Difficulty: Moderate

Technical Difficulty: Moderate

Rappels: 2 - (40ft/12m, 40ft/12m)

Climbing: Many "fourth class" and "fifth class"downclimbs up to 20ft/6m. Ropes may be used for handlines or belays. Most downclimbs are in very tight chimneys which are secure, but akward. This canyon has many non-stop sections of great obstacles! See FAQ for descriptions of the various "classes" of climbing.

Total Distance: 4mi/6km

Total Ascent/Descent: 420ft/128m

Min & Max Elevation: 4550ft/1387m & 4810ft/1466m

Overnight Camping Trips to Blarney Canyon
If you're looking for an awesome camping & canyoneering experience, check out our Multi-Day Adventures into this area. A remote camp, backcountry airstrip (optional), great food, company and outrageous canyons!
Gallery of Blarney Canyon Trip Images
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" Shimrock Canyon, showcase some of the narrowest slots in the deserts of Utah.

Interesting geology aside, Blarney is a first-class slot canyon. It is shorter and more casual than Shimrock and, for those joining us for a couple days of adventure (see sidebar on multi-day trips), offers a great first day warmup to the following day's rigors of "Shim." Blarney's charm begins immediately after leaving the car. Switchbacking our way up an immense dome of Navajo sandstone, the distant views get more dramatic with each step. Most notably to the west loom the volcanic Henry Mountains, or simply - the "Henrys." Long considered to be the last of the named and explored U.S. mountain ranges, these 11,000 foot peaks were originally named the Unknown Mountains by John Wesley Powell during his pioneering 1869 exploration of the nearby Colorado River and Grand Canyon. Never one to pass up a great river trip with buddies, Powell retraced his route in 1871. It was at this time, much to the chagrin of longtime local Mr. Jeremiah Unknown, Powell renamed the range after then Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute Joseph Henry.

Gallery of Blarney Canyon Trip Images
Upon reaching the top of our ascent of the formidable Navajo domes, the approach hike quickly levels out and our fine views of the Henrys get more of the attention they deserve. Further to the south is Trachyte Point, an impressive uplift of even more Navajo sandstone overlooking the take-out for Cataract Canyon raft trips. Before long we reach the head of Blarney Canyon and the first rappel. And what a nice one it is. If you've never rappelled before, no worries. It's easy, short, secure and with a nice gradual "transition" from flat ground to vertical. Around the corner, however, "the slot" awaits. Out comes the body armor...

You'll quickly learn to love the body armor we provide - basically kneepads and, for truly desperate times, elbow pads. They will save you a lot of skin over the next few hours. For that matter, anyone completing the Blarney & Shimrock Multi-day trip will likely want theirs bronzed afterwards. Chimney after chimney is encountered, all of which are great fun with plenty of problem solving. There's even another rappel 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. While these slots can be serious work - they are serious fun! At either one of the two spots in the slot where its wide enough to relax, a well-deserved lunch appears. Life is good.

Afterwards, we often combine a trip through Blarney Canyon with a very short stroll to a nearby pictograph panel appropriately named "Cleopatra." This beautiful rock art is from the Archaic Indians which inhabited the area as long as 6,000 years ago. Nearly as awesome is her surroundings - an enormous sandstone alcove providing the shelter which has kept her looking good for so long. Ah, Cleopatra...



Dipper Creek Canyon

Ultra-long, wilderness hike into
Moab's seldom-visited gem!


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Price: $150/person + 7.85% tax. 10% discount if trip has three or more people.

Length: 10 hours roundtrip from Moab (includes 1 hour round-trip driving time). Trips depart at 8:00 AM.

Season: All Year (not available between April 1st and July 15th due to Dipper nesting season).

Physical Difficulty: Difficult

Technical Difficulty: Moderate

Rappels: 1 - (18ft/6m)

Climbing: The approach to upper Dipper Creek requires climbing up a 200ft/61m gully. There are a couple of short, easy "fifth class" sections of near vertical rock within the gully. The gully has many small, loose rocks which make belays impractical. Due to the loose steep rock, this route is only recommended for sure-footed hikers who are comfortable scrambling over difficult rock! See FAQ for descriptions of the various "classes" of climbing.

Swims: None, though there is much wading in shallow water.

Total Distance: 10mi/16km

Total Ascent/Descent: 847ft/258m

Min & Max Elevation: 4396ft/1340m & 5016ft/1529m

Maximum Group Size: Due to the length of Dipper Creek, trips are limited to groups of four. Not recommended for kids under twelve.
If you’re in Moab during the hot summer months, don’t pass up this trip! All but an hour of this adventurous day is spent near the refreshing waters of Dipper Creek Canyon. Several cascades, including a great “waterslide” at the lunchspot, lead to the canyon’s sole rappel. It’s beautiful, fun and wet! Dipper Creek can also be enjoyed during the cooler months with appropriate footwear and clothing.

Gallery of Dipper Creek Trip Images
The first couple hours of the day have us casually winding our way up beautiful Dipper Creek. Its clear, cool water is somewhat of a treat here in the desert and it's much appreciated during the heat of the summer. Soon enough, the canyon walls close in shrouding us from the rising sun and creating splendid acoustics which echo every little riffle of the flowing water. The sharp "chirps" of the American Dipper (Cinclus Mexicanus), for which the canyon is named, also begin to resound off the walls complementing the tranquility of the water. The bird's constant "dipping" and diving antics never fail to entertain and amaze. Several of their nests are found along the waterway, clinging within pockets in the convoluted walls - reminiscent of the Anasazi's cliff dwellings. Before long, the challenges begin...

Since we begin the day hiking up the creek (without a paddle, no less) to reach the upper section of the canyon, we soon become blocked by a waterfall which we cannot ascend. To get around this and gain entry into the breathtaking upper section, we must bid a temporary farewell to the refreshing waters (but not before soaking our hats, bandanas and shirts!) and clamber our way to the rim of the canyon. This ascent is not to be taken lightly (see sidebar). Once on top, an astoundingly scenic hike along the rim offers incredible views into the gorge itself and of the amazing redrock landscape surrounding us.

Gallery of Dipper Creek Trip Images

"Thank you for such a great time. Lance and I haven't been able to stop talking about it. We just had a blast. In large part, that was due to you, to your company and to Aron. We've recommended Desert Highlights to everyone who will listen! Thanks so much."
Mari Schwab
Seattle, WA

An hour after leaving the water, we begin our descent back into the canyon and to a much anticipated reunion. The sound of flowing water soon welcomes us back and what a welcome sound it is! Under what is now a mid-day sun, we can relax and cool off in some pools and cascades. A nearby sidecanyon is worth exploring - if time, energy and weather allow.

Heading downstream now, we soon reach a fun "waterslide" and a fabulous lunch spot. Few words can describe this setting. Needless to say the physical effort required to get here - which is considerable - is well worth it. We soak in the surroundings (literally) for as long as it takes to enjoy a lazy lunch and a couple "laps" on the slide. Then we proceed, once again, downcanyon.

The clamor of falling water in narrow canyons can be heard for quite some distance. Dipper Creek's waterfall is no exception. The canyon's rappel is fairly short, but what it lacks in height it makes up for in excitement! Water pounding on your helmet while on (what may be your first) rappel does tend to grab your attention. Fears of drowning, however, are typically - and usually very quickly - replaced by feelings of sheer exhilaration! It is definitely an unforgettable experience!

On a precautionary note, this route covers ten miles so it’s not for everyone. It is more of a wilderness hike, with far more time hiking in water than rappelling. There is also some very loose rock on the climb out of the canyon, so it’s appropriate only for sure-footed hikers. To those willing to put in some miles, the rewards are plenty. Stay cool during your visit to Moab!


Very few dayhikes 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. Are you ready?

Gallery of Granary Canyon Trip Images
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. It'll be right next to us in the canyon, but who will be the first in your group to spot it? Let's Go!

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 downcanyon, 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.

Gallery of Granary Canyon Trip Images
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 lunchspot (there are many) and relax for a bit, admire the surroundings, revel in the remoteness and tally our arches. The enjoyment of lunch hour in canyon country cannot be overstated. It is a time where a "side hike" - to undoubtedly look for more arches - beckon those with energy, while snacks and a quick nap beckon those without.

Whatever your pleasure, more significant obstacles await us immediately after lunch. A rappel or two here, a downclimb there. 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!). In addition to the unusual length of this delightful drop, it does contain one final surprise...

Granary Canyon is one of the most beautiful and varied hikes in the Moab area. It is also one of the most remote and challenging. This is a perfect trip for those wanting to get into some very “out there” backcountry.

Granary Canyon

Awesome wilderness canyon with many fantastic rappels and superb arches!


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Price: $180/person + 7.85% tax. 10% discount if trip has three or more people.

Length: 8 to 10 hours roundtrip from Moab (includes 60 minutes round-trip driving time). Trips depart at 7:00 AM.

Season: March through October

Physical Difficulty: Moderate

Technical Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

Rappels: 6 - (20ft/6m, 70ft/21m, 60ft/18m, 40ft/12m, 15ft/5m, 200ft/60m)

Climbing: Several short "fourth class" and "fifth class" obstacles. Ropes are used for handlines, pack lowers, protecting traverses, etc. See FAQ for descriptions of the various "classes" of climbing.

Total Distance: 6mi/10km

Total Ascent: 229ft/70m

Total Descent: 2020ft/616m

Min & Max Elevation: 3978ft/1212m & 5790ft/1765m

Costs are based upon a two person minimum unless otherwise noted (10% discount on groups of three or more and repeat guests) and include all National Park fees and all necessary technical gear (harnesses, ropes, helmets, packs, drysuits, wetsuits, etc).

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions page to help you decide on trips and what to bring.


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