Last Candition: May 29, 2011
The road to the trailhead is in bad shape. High clearance 4x4 required. Our average speed was about 8MPH in a very capable 4x4. A Subaru would not make it across White Canyon right now, the riverbed is far too rocky.
Gravel canyon is completely full of water. We encountered several swims. Put your wetsuit on at the top of the first rappel. My 3/2 was not quite enough, a 4/3 would have been better. Booties and gloves are not needed. Even though the water is fresh-ish, it stinks pretty bad.
Overall, it was a great canyon choice for an 87 degree August day. Our car-to-car time was 7 hours.
A lot of water. Bolt anchor not needed; fixed with proper webbing and length to avoid grooves.
Not very technical, but very scenic especially when you come out the end and can see the ruins up above you! Highly recommend.
The slog back to the car seemed long due to the rough terrain.
Camped at 11.2 miles in a slickrock area. Left vehicle at the exit TH & walked the short distance up the road to the start of the side canyon access. Over 1 hour to navigate the side canyon to main fork, but did not have to rappel. The first mile of main canyon was basically dry with minor avoidable pools & tons of scrambling over, around, under & through giant boulders. No serious canyoneering work until the last .75 mile. Narrows became full of water. A couple places were full of pine needle/cow pie mats floating in the skanky soup. One pool was particularly cold. Two floating disconnects as beta indicates. Last rap has a new looking bolt placed on sloping slabs above the pool RDC side, well above the lip. Route out easy to identify with a gradually upward progression through ledges to the rim following occasional cairns. Great canyon views. A well-used trail on top. This canyon is not as good overall as Cheesebox because of lots of canyon hiking before the real fun/work begins.
Always love this canyon. Road in good to great shape. Still 50 minutes from payment with high clearance. Water levels higher than normal which didn-t affect tech section but made for more lingering pools up and down canyon of narrows. Desert in full bloom; frogs out. Water not very alkaline perhaps from running recently. surprising amount of traffic at campsites but had canyon to ourselves.
Never having been there before I cannot compare water levels but I will say that for our purposes, they were just right.
We did one deep water disconnect, another rappel into a navel-deep pool and had a few other very short swim spots in the midst of longer wet passages. All wet areas were wide enough for easy maneuvering and walls were often just the right width to help with progress by hand-walking the walls while floating along.
Group of 5 - 4 used farmer john or full wet suits. One went without black, snug rubber and was fine.
Lots of walking on both ends but . . . that is part of what this and other Cedar Mesa canyons in general are about.
8 hours car to car but only 6 of that car to bottom, through and out to the rim. Walk back was nearly 2 hours (we were plugging along).
First time down the middle "heinous" and lower/middle section of gravel and out the "cool exit canyon" described on canyoneeringusa.com. we did an extra rappell thorough a "bottomless pothole", like a mini golden cathedral. The dirt road is a bit rough from recent rains, use caution if 2wdriving. The first few miles of canyon had some easily avoidable wet spots, wait 'till the first swimmer to suit up. everything in the narrows was topped off. Plenty of chilly swimmers, though warm enough in 4mil wetsuits. All rappels had webbing/rapides in place, except the cairn anchor we built for the extra rap.
Soldier Crossing and road is in great condition. The shrubs and flowers are in full bloom with dozens of varieties to photograph.
We didn't hit water until the first rap. Then there were several swim/deep wades in fresh water to shortly before the ruins. These are 'low' water conditions.
Both raps are in good condition.
Middle Gravel was muddy but fun. Several swims encountered, a short wetsuit kept the chill off. The Anasazi ruins you first see are amazing.
Soldier's Crossing: Excellent shape
Road: Excellent shape
Water levels: Moderate with several deep wades or swims depending on the person's height
Water Quality: Fresh and clear in upper pools. The last 2 swims were clear but somewhat putrid smelling.
Anchors: Appeared new and in good shape
Temps: Low 90s during the day. High 50s at night.
Gear: Because of high temps and short duration of water, wetsuits were not used this time.
Time: 10 hr trip including 1 hr at the exit ruins.
Gravel was fun and wet. The approach hike was fairly straight forward and once you hit the canyon it was quite enjoyable. Fun downclimbs with only 3 rappels but a few cold swims needing wet suits for sure. Lots of wading. The narrows were fun and beautiful and littered with huge boulders. This is a neat canyon and when combined with Cheesebox makes for a fun weekend. The exit hike SUCKS but is mostly flat after you get up out of the canyon. Climb Utah beta was right on.