Canyoneering Route Description

Arch Nemesis Canyon - 3A(B) II
Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Quick Facts

05-18-18, 3 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 2.9 hours) Pictures Icon

Time Required - 2.5 to 3.5 hours
Distance - 1.6 miles Total, 0.3 miles Technical
Rappels - 9 Rappels, Longest Rappel 100 feet.  Longest is actually 70 feet IF anchor webbing is extended.
Elevation Range - 5480 - 6000 Feet
Shuttle Required - No Vehicle - Passenger Permit Required - No

Gear Used for Canyon

Rappelling and anchor gear, Ropes and or pull cords for rappels up to 100 feet and 60 feet of 1 inch webbing for sling placement.  If the anchor webbing for the longest rap is extended properly to avoid rope grooves it will use about 70 feet of rope travel.  However if not extended you will need about 100 feet of rope, which is why 100 feet is suggested in the event someone does not extend the webbing and people just use it there without thinking about rope grooves.  Wet suits generally not needed.

General Comments

Arch Nemesis is a fun 3 to 4 hour canyon route. You will need some route finding skills to find your way to the drop in point. Over time this will become easier as a few intermittent use trails have already begun getting worn in.

To avoid rope grooves please extend anchors where possible. Bring plenty of webbing to replace anchors as needed and have enough on hand to extend the anchors far enough to avoid rope grooves while pulling the rope.  A retrievable anchor like the Smooth Operator can be helpful in avoiding rope grooves.

There are a few places where a short swim or wade will need to be made if recent rains have filled the canyon with water. Most of the time the water can be avoided. The canyon was given an A(B) water rating as a result of this.

Driving Directions

To get to the Trailhead

Start from the turn off of highway 24 to the Capitol Reef Visitor Center.   This is about 9.7 miles north on highway 24 from the town of Torrey, Utah, which is at the junction of highways 12 and 24.  

From the turn off to the Capitol Reef Visitor Center (vCapReefVisit) follow the Scenic Drive road about 3.4 miles southeast to the turn off for Grand Wash (extGrandWash).

Continue about 4.5 miles south on the scenic drive for about 4.5 miles to the turn off for Capitol Gorge (exCapGorgeRd).

Turn left and follow the Capitol gorge road (now a dirt road) about 1.8 miles to a spot where you can park 2 or 3 cars on the side of the road (pkArchNem).   This is not a designated spot but just a place where there is room.

To leave the Exit Vehicle / Escape Pod

No exit vehicle is needed.  This is done as a loop route.

Maps

GPS coordinate information listed at the bottom.  For information about waypoint naming and map symbols, refer to the Glossary page.

Map Link Icon
Click the links for maps of the route.
Map of the entire route.

Details

The Approach:
From the parking spot (pkArchNem) walk a little over 100 feet east down the road to where you can scramble up (ArchNem01) the ledges on the south side.  Leave the road here and walk up steep dirt and rock slope up the south side of the road.

Shortly up the slope is a steep portion of slickrock (ArchNem02) to scramble up to the next higher ledge then turn right and walk the ledge southwest for about 200 feet to where the ledge ends.

As the ledge ends (ArchNem03) scramble up another section of steep slickrock to the next higher ledge then turn left and continue scrambling up to the east along minor ledges working your way up to another large ledge about 70 feet east.

Once on the next ledge (ArchNem04)  turn right to walk southwest along the ledge.

Almost 200 feet farther is a section along the ledge (ArchNem05) where you will need to work your way through rougher terrain for a short distance to where the ledge is easy walking again. Continue southwest then west contouring around to and following the rim of a drainage below.

A little over 500 feet farther is a weakness in the rim (ArchNem06) allowing an easy scramble down to the drainage below via a rubble filled chute.

After getting down to the drainage, cross the drainage and scramble up (ArchNem07) to ledges on the other (west) side.

Once up on the ledges (ArchNem08) turn right and walk the ledges north back toward the road.

About 450 feet farther near the end of the ledge (ArchNem09) turn left and walk / scramble southwest up steep slope for a little over 100 feet up to a wide ridge that becomes more gently sloped.

Once on the wide gently sloped ridge (ArchNem10), continue southwest veering right to contour around toward a large drainage ahead in the distance. As you contour around you will likely find intermittent use trails.

Almost 600 feet farther the route contours around (ArchNem11) south and begins to follow along the rim of another drainage now below on the right (west). Follow intermittent use trails about 300 feet to drop down into the drainage at the top of a slickrock shelf.

From the slickrock shelf (ArchNem12) cross over the drainage along the top of a slickrock shelf here and continue west up the other side for about 400 feet to where you can see down into the lower portions of Arch Nemesis (ArchNem13).

From where you can see down into Arch Nemesis (ArchNem13), contour left to follow intermittent use trails southish following high up on the rim above Arch Nemesis. Staying higher along the slopes is easier over all travel. Continue south up along the rim for about 0.23 miles (about 1200 feet) to where you can easily scramble down to the canyon floor just above a 20 foot shelf (yArchNemTp).

Note:
If you stay too low while contouring along the rim you may find yourself at the end of a ledge where you could make a difficult vertical downclimb of about 10 feet into the canyon. The downclimb is not recommended as it places you below rap 1 and is risky. If you find yourself at this downclimb simply back up about 50 feet and scramble up to the next higher ledge then walk about 200 feet south up canyon to where you can easily scramble down into Arch Nemesis.

The Canyoneering / Technical Section:
Once down in Arch Nemesis Canyon just above a 20 foot shelf (yArchNemTp).  Walk a few feet down canyon to rap 1.

Rap 1 (dArchNemR1) is anchored from a tree on the RDC side about 10 feet back and drops about 20 feet. Continue down canyon with a mix of rolling slickrock and dirt.

Note:
A large shelf / drop is about 450 feet up canyon and would take extra work to find a way to the top of. Above that mostly open canyon.

About 500 feet down canyon is an arch to scramble down under (ArchNem20arch). Golden Throne peak can be seen off in the distance when looking down canyon.  Continue down canyon about 250 feet to rap 2.

Rap 2 (dArchNemR2) is anchored from a large tree on the LDC side and uses about 65 feet of rope with a vertical drop of about 45 feet.  Rap 3 is about 90 feet down canyon

Rap 3 (dArchNemR3) is anchored from a large rock and drops about 20 feet down into a large pothole that would be a swimmer if full and easy to exit. If water is low the dirt forms a rim where you can walk around the water. Just after the pool below the rap is one more smaller pothole that could be waist deep if full followed by a short downclimb.

Note:
You can bypass rap 3 and the two potholes below it by going up an over on the LDC side and down climbing a short sloped ravine / chute back to the canyon floor.

Rap 4 (dArchNemR4) is anchored from a deadman / cairn anchor about 30 feet back and drops about 70 feet to a deep chamber where water could be waist deep if full.  On the other side of the chamber is short narrow spot to go through.

Note:
Be sure to extend the webbing on this drop the 30 feet over to where the rappel begins to go vertical to avoid rope grooves. Each person rig their rappel device in the rope then use the anchor webbing as a handline to walk out to where the rap rolls off vertical. Extending the rap the 30 feet will make it so 70 feet of rope travel is used or would be 100 feet of rope travel if not extended properly.

Note:
Optionally this rap can be anchored using a chock stone in the downclimb preceding this rap about 50 feet back.

Rap 5 (dArchNemR5) is anchored from a tree about 15 feet back and drops about 20 feet. At the bottom of rap 5 could be chest deep if full but will normally be dry. Optionally rap 5 can be downclimbs by slithering down the crack.

Rap 6 (dArchNemR6) is anchored from a tree about 20 feet back and drops about 15 feet down to an arch to then scramble through. When looking down canyon through the arch you can see the road. Just after the arch is a downclimb of about 8 feet that has a great hand hold on the LDC side that is not seen or noticed until on the climb. Just after this downclimb is the next rap.

Rap 7 (dArchNemR7) is anchored from a chock stone and drops about 20 feet. Just after this rap is an easy sloped downclimb into a pool that would be a swimmer if full but will normally be dry. Continue down canyon over a couple short boulder debris areas.

Rap 8 (dArchNemR8) is anchored from a large boulder and drops about 25 feet. Optionally Rap 8 can be downclimb along the LDC side in a secure sloped stem downclimb of about 20 feet.

Rap 9 (dArchNemR9) is anchored from a large boulder and uses about 40 feet of rope to get down a steep slope of smooth slickrock.

Just after rap 9 the canyon widens out to wide wash (yArchNemBt)

The Exit:
From the bottom of Arch Nemesis where the canyon widens (yArchNemBt), walk a little over 200 feet to the road then turn right and walk east following the road back to your car (pkArchNem).

GPS Waypoint Information

GPX Files Available for DOWNLOAD.
Downloadable GPX files for many of the canyons listed here are now available at the BG-Gear Store.  In addition to the waypoints, the GPX files also offer routes and tracks for the canyon.  Over time more GPX files will be added.

If you want to avoid manually adding waypoints into your GPS or mapping software, want the additional routes and tracks or simply want to support the efforts put into BluuGnome, head over to the BG-Gear Store and grab the files that interest you.

Elevations are approximate.  Waypoints with no elevation data will display NaN in place of the elevation.

For information about my waypoint naming convention and map symbols, refer to the Glossary page.

Notes for GPS information:
BEFORE
entering coordinates from this website, please ensure your system (GPS or mapping software) is set to the same datum used here.  Waypoint coordinates are listed with WGS84 datum and in Lat/Lon hddd.ddddd° format.  Entering coordinate information with inconsistent datum's can result in the waypoints being off by hundreds of feet.  It is important to keep this in mind when entering waypoints from any source.

Arch Nemesis (1) - Drive to Trailhead
  1. vCapReefVisit          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.29111   W -111.26180        Elev: 5,208 Feet
    Capitol Reef Visitor Center.
  2. extGrandWash          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.25622   W -111.23287        Elev: 5,580 Feet
    Exit off of the scenic drive to a dirt road into Grand Wash.
  3. exCapGorgeRd          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20802   W -111.19523        Elev: NaN Feet
    To go to Reef Ramble, exit off of the Scenic Drive onto the Capitol Gorge road. Capitol Gorge Road goes off to the east and turns from dirt to pavement a little over 200 feet down the road just past a large parking area. To go to Wingate Wander, continue south on Pleasant Creek Road which also turns to dirt just past this exit.
  4. pkArchNem          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20753   W -111.17549        Elev: 5,480 Feet
    Park on south side of road where there is room for 2 or 3 cars. Not a designated parking spot but enough room to get off the road. Walk a little over 100 feet east down the road to where you can scramble up the ledges on the south side.
Arch Nemesis (2) - Approach
  1. pkArchNem          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20753   W -111.17549        Elev: 5,480 Feet
    Park on south side of road where there is room for 2 or 3 cars. Not a designated parking spot but enough room to get off the road. Walk a little over 100 feet east down the road to where you can scramble up the ledges on the south side.
  2. ArchNem01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20778   W -111.17528        Elev: NaN Feet
    Leave the road here and walk up steep dirt and rock slope up the south side of the road.
  3. ArchNem02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20770   W -111.17512        Elev: NaN Feet
    Steep portion of slickrock to scramble up to the next higher ledge then turn right and walk the ledge southwest for about 200 feet to where the ledge ends.
  4. ArchNem03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20717   W -111.17539        Elev: NaN Feet
    As the ledge comes to an end scramble up another section of steep slickrock to the next higher ledge then turn left and continue scrambling up to the east along minor ledges working your way up to another large ledge about 70 feet east.
  5. ArchNem04          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20726   W -111.17519        Elev: NaN Feet
    Now on a large ledge turn right to walk southwest along the ledge.
  6. ArchNem05          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20685   W -111.17556        Elev: NaN Feet
    Section along the ledge where you will need to work your way through rougher terrain for a short distance to where the ledge is easy walking again. Continue southwest then west contouring around to and following the rim of a drainage below.
  7. ArchNem06          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20559   W -111.17624        Elev: NaN Feet
    Weakness in the rim allowing an easy scramble down to the drainage below via a rubble filled chute.
  8. ArchNem07          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20561   W -111.17639        Elev: 5,600 Feet
    After getting down into the drainage, cross the drainage and scramble up to ledges on the other (west) side.
  9. ArchNem08          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20571   W -111.17660        Elev: NaN Feet
    Once on ledges on the west side of the drainage, turn right and walk the ledges north back toward the road.
  10. ArchNem09          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20691   W -111.17698        Elev: NaN Feet
    Near the end of the ledge turn left and walk / scramble southwest up steep slope for a little over 100 feet up to a wide ridge that becomes more gently sloped.
  11. ArchNem10          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20679   W -111.17736        Elev: NaN Feet
    Now on a wide gently sloped ridge, continue southwest veering right to contour around toward a large drainage ahead in the distance. As you contour around you will likely find intermittent use trails.
  12. ArchNem11          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20594   W -111.17891        Elev: NaN Feet
    Route contours around south and begins to follow along the rim of another drainage now below on the right (west). Follow intermittent use trails about 300 feet to drop down into the drainage at the top of a slickrock shelf.
  13. ArchNem12          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20529   W -111.17951        Elev: NaN Feet
    Cross over the drainage along the top of a slickrock shelf here. Cross over the shelf and continue west up the other side for about 400 feet to where you can see down into the lower portions of Arch Nemesis.
  14. ArchNem13          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20569   W -111.18078        Elev: NaN Feet
    Route gets to where you can look down into the lower portions of Arch Nemesis. Contour left to follow intermittent use trails southish following high up on the rim above Arch Nemesis. Staying higher along the slopes is easier over all travel. Continue south up along the rim for about 0.23 miles (about 1200 feet) to where you can easily scramble down to the canyon floor just above a 20 foot shelf.
  15. yArchNemTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20305   W -111.18256        Elev: 6,000 Feet
    Drop in point for the top of Arch Nemesis. Easy scramble down from the rim down into Arch Nemesis down to the top of a 20 foot tall shelf in the canyon. Note: If you stay too low while contouring along the rim you may find yourself at the end of a ledge where you could make a difficult vertical downclimb of about 10 feet into the canyon. The downclimb is not recomended as it places you below rap 1 and is risky. If you find yourself at this downclimb simply back up about 50 feet and scramble up to the next higher ledge then walk about 200 feet south up canyon to where you can easily scramble down into Arch Nemesis.
Arch Nemesis (3) - The Canyon and Exit
  1. yArchNemTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20305   W -111.18256        Elev: 6,000 Feet
    Drop in point for the top of Arch Nemesis. Easy scramble down from the rim down into Arch Nemesis down to the top of a 20 foot tall shelf in the canyon. Note: If you stay too low while contouring along the rim you may find yourself at the end of a ledge where you could make a difficult vertical downclimb of about 10 feet into the canyon. The downclimb is not recomended as it places you below rap 1 and is risky. If you find yourself at this downclimb simply back up about 50 feet and scramble up to the next higher ledge then walk about 200 feet south up canyon to where you can easily scramble down into Arch Nemesis.
  2. dArchNemR1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20316   W -111.18279        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 1 - Arch Nemesis above a 20 foot shelf. Anchored from a tree on the RDC side about 10 feet back and drops about 20 feet. Walk down canyon with a mix of rolling slickrock and dirt. Note: A large shelf / drop is about 450 feet up canyon and would take extra work to find a way to the top of. Above that mostly open canyon.
  3. ArchNemNoDC          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20351   W -111.18277        Elev: NaN Feet
    If you traveled too low while following the rim you may find yourself at the end of a ledge here with a sketchy 10 foot downclimb to teh canyon floor. If you get here, back up about 50 feet, scramble up to the next higher ledge then walk up south up canyon to where you can easily scramble down into the canyon.
  4. ArchNem20arch          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20448   W -111.18269        Elev: NaN Feet
    Arch to scramble down under. Golden Throne peak can be seen off in the distance when looking down canyon.
  5. dArchNemR2          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20517   W -111.18239        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 2 - Arch Nemesis. Anchored from a large tree on the LDC side and uses about 65 feet of rope with a vertical drop of about 45 feet.
  6. dArchNemR3          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20540   W -111.18220        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 3 - Arch Nemesis. Anchored from a large rock and drops about 20 feet down into a large pothole that would be a swimmer if full and easy to exit. If water is low the dirt forms a rim where you can walk around the water. Just after the pool below the rap is one more smaller pothole that could be waist deep if full followed by a short downclimb. Note: you can bypass rap 3 and the two potholes below it by going up an over on the LDC side and downclimbing a short sloped ravine / chute back to the canyon floor.
  7. dArchNemR4          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20557   W -111.18185        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 4 - Arch Nemesis. Anchored from a deadman / cairn anchor about 30 feet back and drops about 70 feet to a deep chamber where water could be waist deep if full. On the other side of the chamber is short narrow spot to go through. Note: Be sure to extend the webbing on this drop the 30 feet over to where the rappel begins to go vertical to avoid rope grooves. Each person rig their rappel device in the rope then use the anchor webbing as a handline to walk out to where the rap rolls off vertical. Extending the rap the 30 feet will make it so 70 feet of rope travel is used or would be 100 feet of rope travel if not extended properly. Note: Optionally this rap can be anchored using a chock stone in the downclimb preceding this rap about 50 feet back.
  8. dArchNemR5          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20582   W -111.18155        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 5 - Arch Nemesis. Anchored from a tree about 15 feet back and drops about 20 feet. At the bottom of rap 5 could be chest deep if full but will normally be dry. Optionally rap 5 can be downclimbs by slithering down the crack.
  9. dArchNemR6          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20610   W -111.18116        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 6 - Arch Nemesis. Anchored from a tree about 20 feet back and drops about 15 feet down to an arch to then scramble through. When looking down canyon through the arch you can see the road. Just after the arch is a downclimb of about 8 feet that has a great hand hold on the LDC side that is not seen or noticed until on the climb. Just after this downclimb is the next rap.
  10. dArchNemR7          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20618   W -111.18106        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 7 - Arch Nemesis. Anchored from a chock stone and drops about 20 feet. Just after this rap is an easy sloped downclimb into a pool that would be a swimmer if full but will normally be dry. Continue down canyon over a couple short boulder debris areas.
  11. dArchNemR8          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20643   W -111.18035        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 8 - ArchNemesis. Anchored from a large boulder and drops about 25 feet. Optionally Rap 8 can be downclimb along the LDC side in a secure sloped stem downclimb of about 20 feet.
  12. dArchNemR9          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20652   W -111.18016        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 9 - Arch Nemesis. Anchored from a large boulder and uses about 40 feet of rope to get down a steep slope of smooth slickrock.
  13. yArchNemBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20662   W -111.18007        Elev: 5,580 Feet
    Bottom of Arch Nemesis where the canyon opens to wide wash near the road. Walk a little over 200 feet to the road then turn right and walk east following the road back to your car.
  14. pkArchNem          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.20753   W -111.17549        Elev: 5,480 Feet
    Park on south side of road where there is room for 2 or 3 cars. Not a designated parking spot but enough room to get off the road. Walk a little over 100 feet east down the road to where you can scramble up the ledges on the south side.