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El Capitan Canyon, AZ

Guide 28 Triplogs  0 Topics
  3.5 of 5 
no permit
234 28 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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Distance Round Trip 3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,451 feet
Elevation Gain 1 feet
Accumulated Gain 750 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 6.75
Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
12  2020-01-18 Heliops
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
Page 1,  2
Author nonot
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 236
Photos 2,001
Trips 479 map ( 4,543 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  5:14am - 7:35pm
Official Route
0 Alternative

Closer than Yosemite
by nonot

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

El Capitan Canyon 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 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.

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.

Park along the road and hike uphill until you reach the side drainage that allows access. Descend 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 three bomber anchors in good condition, but at two of the five 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 the right LDC and goes back up to the highway and your vehicle.

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

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.

    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
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
    help comment issue

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