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Cat Stair Canyon - Car Wash, UT

Guide 10 Triplogs  0 Topics
  3.1 of 5 
no permit
91 10 0
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 0.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,722 feet
Elevation Gain -69 feet
Accumulated Gain 63 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 0.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 0.82
Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Historic, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
7  2022-05-07 GrottoGirl
4  2018-12-29 chumley
13  2017-05-14 Steph_and_Blake
12  2017-05-05 cw50must
7  2016-10-03 RickVincent
4  2011-05-12 ToadOfTheRocks
11  2010-12-31 PaleoRob
20  2009-01-18 PaleoRob
Page 1,  2
Author PaleoRob
author avatar Guides 172
Routes 229
Photos 6,096
Trips 1,128 map ( 2,523 miles )
Age 41 Male Gender
Location Pocatello, ID
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar Map
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Preferred Feb, Mar, Sep, Oct
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  5:29am - 7:40pm
Official Route
0 Alternative

Corvair Sandstone
by PaleoRob

I don't know if this little slot canyon has an actual name, but due to certain characteristics of the hike, my brother-in-law and myself began calling it Car Wash.

I'd always been interested in this little slot to the south of US89. Every time I drive between Page and Kanab I look down while crossing the Cockscomb, and to the south a narrow slot beckons, just off the highway. Finally, my brother-in-law was out hiking at the Toadstools, just on the other side of the Paria River, and we decided to jot over to the canyon to check it out. The hike doesn't follow an established trail. There is a parking area, and from that point, there are usually some footprints to follow down into the wash bottom. The hike is also pretty simple. You follow the wash bottom down the canyon. The wash bottom can be muddy, especially after rain or snow, and this certainly isn't the place to be caught during a summer monsoon. The possibility of a flash flood is high.

Meandering around a few rock spines, the wash bottom is flat until it reaches a point just below the highway. Here it drops steeply, beginning to slot up. During the construction of US89 fins of rock were blasted away by dynamite to allow the highway to pass. This same process was used to reroute small streams that flowed through the area. The first part of the slot is man-made, a byproduct of highway construction. Stay on the right-hand side or in the wash, the drop is not so serious it cannot be negotiated.

After dropping to the bottom of the first drop, you come to the section that gave Car Wash its name. Some roads in Utah, specifically up on the Skutumpah Road, are well known for crossing canyons built on crashed cars. The construction of US89 took it to a new level, with about a dozen cars piled on the old wash bottom with rock dumped on top to form the roadbed. There are Impalas, Bel-Airs, a Lincoln Continental with suicide doors, and even a Corvair, along with many more we couldn't identify. This is pretty strange and neat. Kind of surreal to encounter out in the desert, unexpected. Some of the cars even have their license plates left on them - the latest date I saw was 1970.

Going past the cars, the canyon deepens and narrows. Some scrambling around boulders and over pour-overs is required to negotiate this section. This part of the canyon is naturally made, and some of the rock formations are quite beautiful.

At the end of the boulder falls there is a large chockstone, undercut, with its top about 10 feet above the canyon floor below it. Without some gear (or a ladder) this is the end of the road. Enjoy the view, and return to your car the way you came.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your canyon trip to support this local community.

2008-01-13 PaleoRob
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To canyon trip
    From Page, take US89 towards Kanab. After crossing the Paria river, you will begin to climb the Cockscomb anticline. Stay in the left-hand lane. Watch for mile marker 24. On the left-hand side (south), almost to MM25, there will be a paved turn-off onto a dirt road. This road leads around a sandstone spire to a broad dirt parking area. Park here and begin your hike, heading down into the wash bottom.
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills

    end of page marker