Rappel the Granstaff Canyon

    4.0
    4.5 miles -500 ft gain  - Point-to-Point Trail

    Added by Lucas Boland

    Spend a perfect half day taking in the crazy sandstone textures and colors that you’ll only find in Southern Utah with two epic 100-foot rappels!

    The Granstaff Canyon is a beautiful, red rock canyon just outside of Moab, nestled up against the Colorado River. For those with canyoneering or climbing experience, this canyon is simple enough to run. After an initial one hour (ish) hike in from the parking spot, the rappels are close together and easy to set up, and are followed by a 2.4 hike out. In all, it’s a half day adventure that will take around 3-5 hours to complete, depending on how much time you spend smelling the roses (sandstone). To descend this canyon you need to have a crew with climbing experience, able to set up rappels and respond to any possible emergency situations. Professional guiding companies operate in this canyon, or you can do it with your own able crew.

    Getting There:

    From Moab, the drive to the canyon is about twenty five minutes. You'll head north out of the town on South Mill Creek Drive, which will turn into Sand Flats Road. To get to that road take any street north from the center of town, Center, let’s say, and turn right on 4th East Street. This will run you into S Mill Creek Dr, which you’ll take a left on and continue for 4-5 miles. You’ll stay on this until you hit the visitor kiosk to purchase your $5.00 day pass, and then keep on for 1.5 miles past the Slick Rock mountain biking trail. Look for an unmarked dirt road, and when you find it take it just a short ways to the visible radio tower. Park near the radio tower and the trail will pick up from there.

    Canyon Information:

    To access the rappel you first have to hike in about 2 miles to the northeast. The trail is somewhat easy to follow, but with so many drainages and sandy ghost trails it might seem like you’re getting off the path. To be honest, you might get off track, but all of the drainages will eventually lead you to the first bolted rappel. So, let gravity do the work and continue to follow what seems to be the easiest way forward and down. Start by following the road ½ mile until you reach a sign on your right side that says “no motorized vehicles.” This is your trail! Follow this as best you can, looking for footprints and other obvious signs of travel.

    This will then spit you out at the first rappel, a bolted anchor with a steep rounded dropoff to begin. Rope in and rappel into a narrow slot canyon. You’ll land on a ledge that is about midway down, then continue on to the bottom. After that, follow the clear path out through the slot. This will put you in a big amphitheater-type cavern, the Medieval Chamber. Walk just a bit and you will come across the obvious Morning Glory Arch.

    This arch is amazing, and definitely the highlight of the canyon. It’s 243 feet long, which makes it the 6th longest arch in the United States. Now you have two options to descend: one is to set up your rap off of the pre-established anchor using the tree, and the other is to simul-rappel with a buddy off of the arch itself. If you have to ask what a simul-rappel is, you probably should not do it. Both are awesome, and after the first 30 feet or so you’ll be suspended in the air for the remainder of the time.

    Enjoy. Soak in that free-hanging moment.

    After your team is through, pack up and hike out victorious the last couple of miles to the Granstaff Canyon trailhead. Then get a fat burger because you earned it.

    It is imperative to be fully prepared going into this adventure – it is your responsibility to have the know how to navigate a canyon of this nature.

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    Rock Climbing
    Hiking
    Scenic

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    Reviews

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    🥇Top Contributor

    about 2 months ago

    Great Starter Canyon

    With the simple approach, bolted raps, and lack of much water this is a great canyon to start out with if you are coming from more of a climbing background. The chamber is super cool and the arch is very scenic - just be prepared for a lot of people at the bottom. It is possible as well to shorten the hike out if you take a fifth class ramp a bit down the canyon to the right.

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