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South Canyon Route, AZ

Guide 35 Triplogs  2 Topics
  4.6 of 5 
683 35 2
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Difficulty 5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 13 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,580 feet
Elevation Gain -2,588 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,447 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 10-16 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 30.24
Backpack Yes
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25  2020-03-15 desertchild
9  2018-04-14 friendofThunderg
11  2017-12-16 gilbertnathaniel
65  2016-04-09
Grand Canyon River Running
59  2015-11-26
Shinumo and South Canyons
14  2015-10-29 Hippy
50  2013-03-30 Tough_Boots
50  2013-03-30 zukerrach
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Author J&SHike
author avatar Guides 5
Routes 0
Photos 71
Trips 4 map ( 69 miles )
Age 47 Male Gender
Location Prescott, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, Sep, Oct → 7 AM
Seasons   Late Winter to Early Summer
Sun  5:29am - 7:39pm
Official Route
1 Alternative

Vasey's Paradise, Stantons Cave
by J&SHike

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First and foremost this canyon is not for beginners or acrophobic people. There are places where you have just a foot to two feet between you and a serious injury or death. Walking on loose scree in places and on five hundred million year old rock on a hiker made route make this canyon potentially dangerous.

With that said lets go! From the "Trailhead" if that's what you want to call it, head east over the rim. This is where you will think to yourself "This is the trail?". You'll first come to "The Chute" which is just what it is, a break in the cliff band. Hike down this chute, if your afraid of heights this is where you will first be tested as the chute opens up on the right side for a few feet and a view of the canyon below. It's really not that bad, but like I said if you fear heights turn back now.

The trail zigzags down the canyon with well-placed cairns to mark the route down. There are a few places where you'll have to scramble down some drops in here but nothing major. When you come to a flat place head to the right across fallen rock then head down the dry fall this is where you down climb/scramble a bit. At the base head left and around a boulder, it's narrow here and it drops off a bit on your right. Keep following the route down to the bottom.

Once at the bottom head down the canyon either on hiker trails that appear here and there or down the mainly dry creek bed. You'll come to a couple of minor drop offs which you can avoid by going to the right on the first two, the left on the third then to the right of a major dry fall. This trail around the dry fall goes up on creek right and is narrow in a few places with a drop to your left the whole way. Once down, a canyon on creek right enters, and past that a canyon on creek left enters this is Bedrock Canyon. Continue straight until you get to some smooth light colored Redwall Limestone. At this point you have a choice of going straight down the canyon narrows or looking up to your left, north, to a cairn and a trail that skirts the narrows. If you choose the narrows you need to be proficient in down climbing boulders and may even need a bit of rope, and in extreme cases rappelling equipment. There are seven chokestones to be negotiated and couple of minor ones at the end. These narrows change with every flood so go prepared.

If you chose the trail that skirts the narrows head up and follow the cairns along the Redwall bench, there's a short narrow path on one part in here with some exposure and on loose scree but just go slow and hang on to the boulder in front of you.

When you come to a nice view of the river head upriver a bit then down a rock fall down to the Colorado. Head downriver to some ruins along the river and to Stantons Cave, which have been found split willow figurines 3000-4000 years old and remains of giant Condors, saber-toothed tigers, and other animals 10,000 years ago. The cave is gated for protection but you can still walk in a ways. Past Stantons Cave is Vasey's Paradise, a lush, huge spring gushing from the Canyon wall and into the Colorado. When finished exploring head back up either the narrows or the trail. Going up the narrows is a bit easier then going down them. As mentioned above this narrow part changes with every flood so if attempting this go prepared! Have fun, be careful and enjoy this remote part of Grand Canyon.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a difficult hike. It would be insane to attempt this entire hike without prior experience hiking.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

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

2004-02-26 J&SHike
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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 $$
Information is listed below

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
From Flagstaff drive north on Highway 89. Turn left on Highway 89A towards Jacob Lake. Between mile posts 559 & 560, turn left onto House Rock Buffalo Ranch Road (Road #8910, and a sign for South Canyon). Follow this graded dirt (good condition) road for 19 miles then turn left onto Road #632. After 1.5 miles turn right (before reaching the ranch). Fees: Day hiking is free. If you plan to spend the night you can at the trailhead, but once inside the canyon your technically in GCNP so you have to get permits, reservations and all of the other hoops you must jump through.
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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