Hiking Cathedral Wash with friends and co-workers proved to be a great way to get out of the office.
Downstream on the Colorado River from Lee’s Ferry boat launch
We usually hike rim-to-rim, from north to south, across Grand Canyon during training but this year we struck out into the surrounding area for a day. Always good to know what there is to see outside the park to better help our North Rim visitors. After touring Lees Ferry and the Lonely Dell Ranch we hit Cathedral Wash, the shortest of the Marble Canyon tributaries to the Colorado River at only 1.25 miles (2 km) one way.
This canyon is a great way to see and get close to erosion in motion. Of course you don’t want to enter it if there’s any chance of rain within 50 miles because of the possibility of flash flood. Blue sky overhead doesn’t mean it’s not raining up stream.
The stair step walls and dry falls created by eons of water and erosion have to be climbed with caution and I’m glad we watched out for and helped each other along the way. Well at least a hand for me once in a while. Previous hikers placed rock cairns to mark their preferred route which we didn’t always agree with or follow.
I’d rate this moderately difficult but no ropes were needed over the 200 foot change in elevation. Still, I don’t recommend doing this solo.
The canyon descends through the Kaibab Limestone and Toroweap Formations of the Grand Canyon Group which are loaded with fossils left from ancient seas. But honestly, I was watching my step so much I didn’t look for any. I frequently see the usual brachiopod, sponge and crinoid fossils on the Kaibab Plateau.
The reward at the end included marvelous views along the Colorado River.
We hung out for a bit to absorb the grandeur and could have stayed longer except our tummies were growling for lunch instead of just trail snacks.
So before long we headed back up canyon.
The parking area is not easy to spot. Might be best to go to the end of the road and explore Lee’s Ferry first then drive back 4 miles (6.4 km) and look for a wide gravel shoulder on the right with an interpretive sign.
Although a short trail with little change in elevation that can be completed in 3 hours round trip, why hurry. Hike slowly and carefully, take lunch and plenty of water. During the heat of summer go early to avoid possible 120 degree days. Watch for rattlesnakes.
No camping is allowed in this area of Grand Canyon National Park. However a campground is located at Lee’s Ferry and free camping abounds on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land a little further to the west. Also no pets are allowed.
Please remember, collecting specimens of any kind (fossils, plants, reptiles, flowers, rocks, etc.) is prohibited in a National Park. Instead collect memories and photos.
This post is part of a blog carnival hosted by More Time to Travel along with a group of travel friends. I hope you’ll check out more of their group travel stories. You just might get some travel ideas and find new blogs to follow.
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