Wild rappels through waterfalls in a truly beautiful alpine slot canyon!
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!
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Easy/Moderate
- Duration: 6-8 hours
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Total Hiking Distance: 2 miles (includes 1 mile of steep hiking on an established trail)
- Rappels: 5 (ranging from 10ft/3m to 70ft/22m)
- Distance from Moab: 45 minutes one-way
- Season: June – September
- 2-3 people – $180/person + tax
- 4-9 people – $162/person + tax
- 10+ people – call for pricing
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.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!
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.
Now, it’s time to relax next to the creek and revel in the day’s excitement. We’ll choose a nice spot to eat lunch before we begin the ascent back up to the top. A steep hike out on a beautiful trail brings us back to where we started. Amazing views down into the red rock canyons below remind us of the heat that we’ve escaped for the day.
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.
- All canyoneering gear and safety equipment
- Wetsuits, splash gear, backpacks & drybags
- Instruction from experienced and fun guides
- Transportation to and from the canyon (Due to Covid, we may ask that you follow your guide in your own vehicle to the trailhead)
- Lunch and snacks – please bring enough food to be out and active for 6-8 hours
- Water – we recommend at least 2 liters of water per person