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El Capitan Canyon, AZ

no permit
222 26 0
Guide 26 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Globe S
3.4 of 5 by 7
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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Distance Round Trip 3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,451 feet
Elevation Gain 1 feet
Accumulated Gain 750 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.75
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
28  2016-02-06 Pivo
23  2016-02-06 GrottoGirl
28  2016-01-24 outdoor_lover
12  2012-10-13 desert_boonie
17  2012-05-27 desertdog972
21  2011-11-26 suzaz
17  2011-01-16 suzaz
16  2011-01-08 suzaz
Page 1,  2
Author nonot
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 236
Photos 1,969
Trips 476 map ( 4,511 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, Nov, Dec → 10 AM
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  6:06am - 6:31pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Closer than Yosemite
by nonot

Overview: A class 3BII canyon with as many as a half dozen short rappels, max height 50 ft.

Warning: This is a technical, class 3 canyon. Only experienced canyoneers should attempt this, you will need a complete set of technical gear (helmet, harness, rope, descender, etc) and the ability to build your own anchors (30 ft of webbing, quick links, etc). Canyoneering is a dangerous sport, avoid any time there is even the remote chance of rain or a flash flood. If you have low body mass, the potholes are cold and we got wet not quite waist deep, so be prepared. I am not responsible if you get in way over your head and get trapped!! Note: a few of the rope pulls could be tricky, so be careful.

Conditions: We did this on an 80 degree day in Phoenix and I thought it was nice in the canyon and a little warm on the climb out. My partner was quite cold in the canyon. I didn't think a wetsuit was necessary, but I was the one carrying all the gear and probably warmer because of it. The potholes were slippery but small and escapable without requiring special techniques or gear.

Hike: Park along the road and hike uphill until you reach the side drainage that allows access. Descend down the gully dodging catclaw and cactus. Continue downstream in the dry creek bed until the canyon slots up. You reach a slot in which there are several shallow potholes. Avoid them or slog through. You will soon encounter your first technical section. You can elect to rap up to 3 of the drops, else choose some class 4 or easy 5 climbs to get around these first few drops. Continue a little bit further downstream, maybe a quarter mile, and you will have pound out a few short 15-20 ft raps and then a multi drop sloping 50 foot rappel that is possibly downclimbable, but what the heck, rappel it! We found 3 bomber anchors in good condition but at two of the 5 rappels I had to build anchors using natural features. Please avoid bolting this canyon, it is not necessary. A final 15 footer and you are done with the technical stuff. An old jeep road can be taken from the creekbed on right LDC and goes back up to the highway and your vehicle.

Water Sources: Several potholes but nothing you'd want to drink

Camping: Not along the highway!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2009-03-02 nonot
    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.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    El Capitan Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    1st Technical Canyon since September due to Injury. Felt really good to get out there again. Considering I've only been able to hit the Gym a few Times so far, I couldn't have asked for a Better Canyon to get back into it. It's a Beginner Canyon, we had two Beginners along and the Pace was Leisurely...Perfect... :D The Leader wanted to do this as a Shuttle as he didn't want to walk the Narrow Highway, so we took 2 Vehicles... :D We hit it just late enough after the last big Storm that we didn't have to wear the Wetsuits. I haven't done this Canyon before, but I really liked it, so it's going on the Repeat List.... :y:

    The Brittlebush was actually Blooming in a few Spots....
    El Capitan Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I led a large group with a few newbies, so it took quite some time to get through the canyon. Very pretty winter canyon! Luckily we only encountered the infamous bees in one section - no incidents. It was a little interesting to see a few bolts up high for climbing sections in the canyon, I never knew that was there. Not very obtrusive though, nobody else noticed them. We had to navigate around one rappel to avoid getting wet, but everything else was just as described. I highly recommend this for only a small group if you have new canyoneers... I had 8 others (5 new) with me, and it took forever!
    El Capitan Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    we parked at the turn off right across the road from the runaway truck ramp then hiked about maybe a mile up the highway to the point were you can find a way through the barbedwire fence and worked our way down to the canyon.there were a couple small reples that are esay to down climbed or buypass at the second down climb / reppel area there is a bee hive by were you are able to bypass it so we just downed climbed it and rigged a hand line for one of our shorter party members .on the last reppel befor you leave there is another bee hive and the canyon was full of bees and of course it had to be the reppel that has a very akwared start so we did it as quick as possible and moved on started the walk out of the canyon .
    El Capitan Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    A part of the state I really haven't been into much so just driving the road in was a sight to see. Pete and I parked his awesome rental car on the side of the highway and began the adventure. We went to the top of the canyon at first to see the views and it was only minutes away from the car so it seemed like a good idea. We then laughed at the fact we went up just to come back down to start to enter the canyon. The area is very interesting, brushy, open and dry at first, then narrow and wet with all the big pools. We were able to stay dry from the knees up which was fine with us. We also avoided the longer rappel as we were able to down climb it without too much trouble. As I was coming down Pete said something like "Oh no" which freaked me out for a second. Turns out a rattlesnake was a few feet away from us in a dry pool I almost climbed into. He was small and the dry pool may be too big for him to get out of? We continued on and really enjoyed the narrows in this canyon. Much longer than I expected them to be which was nice. We did the last rappel and were out of the canyon and able to see the old road leading up. We got on the road and hiked up to the highway and our parked car. When we arrived at the car Highway Patrol was there to check and see if there was trouble. He was glad to hear we were okay and told us that they have too many people come out to this area in rental cars and commit suicide. Something I didn't expect to hear but not what our plans were for sure. He asked about the canyon and then went on his way. Nice canyon to do for sure.
    El Capitan Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    A great intro canyon to give Kelli a taste of canyoneering! :) The rain the day before had me worried we'd need wetsuits so we came prepared and we hit the scattered showers on the drive in and while gearing up, but it wasn't enough rain to prevent us from safely doing this small canyon after briefly waiting the rain out. After traversing the hillside along the highway, some cactus dodging & avoiding catclaw, we dropped down into the flowing El Capitan Canyon. We did some light rock hopping and down climbing alongside the creek, but the creek dried up and went underground just as we hit the first technical section that required a few down climbs and rappels. The first rappel we did is probably a down climb for many people, but it was wet & slippery from the recent rain and I opted to build an anchor and rap it. The first official rappel drops into a waist-high pool and since I couldn't find a pre-existing anchor and was in no hurry to get wet, I scrambled up to the left to scout a bypass and found an anchor up there to rap from to avoid the water. :D The canyon opens up after that with plenty more rock hopping until we reached the 50ft sloping rappel. If it wasn't so wet it wouldn't have been too difficult of a down climb. I couldn't find the anchor that Todd's describes is around a Jojoba bush, but the bushes at that drop look pretty beat up & covered in debris from the huge flow that must have come thru here after those storms a few weeks back. :o So I build another anchor around a small rock rammed between the chockstone and we dropped into that sweet narrows section. :) After passing thru the tunnel, we arrived at the next rappel and decided to have lunch under the glowing walls and even waited out a light shower before doing that next short rappel with an awkward start. I again assume the old anchors got washed away and built another one. ;) The next 15ft drop is bypassable yet rather nasty, so I thru the rope around a chockstone with me as a backup meat anchor and had Kelli rap down, lowered my pack, and then bypassed around. The technical section ended soon afterwards, so we dropped the gear and slowly climbed out of the canyon. Thankfully we didn't get rained on too much, we stayed plenty safe & warm, and didn't need our wetsuits after all! :y:

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To canyon trip
    From Globe head about 17 miles south on 77, park just before the big emergency truck ramp. There are several good pullouts you could choose from.
    page created by nonot on Mar 02 2009 7:50 pm
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