Canyoneering Route Description

Cassidy Arch Canyon - 3A I (II)
Capitol Reef National Park, Utah.

Quick Facts

05-27-13, 3 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 3 hours) Pictures Icon  Pictures coming soon.

Time Required - 2.5 to 4.5 hours
Distance - 2.3 miles Total, 0.4 miles Technical
Rappels - 8 Rappels, Longest Rappel 140 feet.
Elevation Range - 5390 - 5980 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 140 feet and 40 feet of 1 inch webbing for sling placement.  Also bring a safety tether along, you will need it at rap 2.  Bring a retrievable anchor system for rap 1.  Any retrievable anchor system works here like a Smooth Operator (like a Fiddlestick but different), a Fiddlestick, The Slick or even a webbing retrievable anchor works.

General Comments

Cassidy Arch Canyon is a short canyon that starts by rappelling down under Cassidy Arch.  Access to the top is via the Cassidy Arch trail which is a popular trail to go view the arch.  After getting to the arch the canyon fun begins by rapping down under the arch and completing the canyon route below.  Cassidy Arch Canyon is short but very worthwhile in scenery and canyon fun.

Note:
In the past rappel one for Cassidy Arch Canyon was from a large Juniper tree where it was suggested a retrievable anchor be used to keep things clean.  Cassidy Arch Canyon became more popular and traffic increase which in turn brought more people who were not following the recommendation of using a retrievable anchor.  The rangers at Capitol Reef National Park became concerned about the rope grooves and stressing the tree and asked the canyoneering community to help with a solution.  New bolted anchors were placed near the tree and should be used instead.  Please do not use the large juniper tree for rap 1.  New anchors have been added in a couple spots down canyon as well.  The route description here is updated to reflect the anchors in place as of summer 2016.

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).  

Turn left (east) onto the dirt road to Grand Wash (extGrandWash).  Drive 1.3 miles to the end of the road where it ends at the Grand Wash and Cassidy Arch trailhead (tGrandWash).

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 of this route description.

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

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

Details

The Approach:
From the Grand Wash trailhead (tGrandWash), walk east down the trail along Grand Wash for 0.2 miles to the junction for the start of the Cassidy Canyon trail on the left (tCassidy).  Leave the wash and begin hiking up the well defined trail toward Cassidy Arch Canyon.  The trail has some steep sections but overall climbs gradually following the ledges west toward Cassidy Arch.

About 0.2 miles after leaving Grand Wash the trail will have a short section (wCassidyRP-01) where it follows along a narrow ledge before widening out again.

About 0.3 miles farther the trail crosses over a drainage (wCassidyRP-02).  Shortly after crossing the drainage the trail goes south to cross over to the south side of a ridge that is running up to the west from here.  Continue around the south side of this ridge a few hundred feet over to a rock bench (wCassidyRP-03).

Contour around the rock bench (wCassidyRP-03) and continue south for about 500 feet out to a prominent point with a large dead bristle cone pine tree.  From the point (wCassidyRP-04) you have good views.  To the south is looking over Grand Wash and over toward the Shinob Canyons with the peak of Ferns Nipple in the distance.  To the west you start to see Cassidy Arch come into view about 0.3 miles away.  From this point forward over to Cassidy Arch it is easy to find your way since you have now had a good view of Cassidy Arch.

Follow the trail as it contours around the point and begins to travel west toward Cassidy Arch.  About 0.25 miles farther is a trail junction (jCassidyRte) with a sign giving directions.  Turn left (southwest) and leave the main trail here to route find your way southwest toward Cassidy Arch.

About 200 feet from the Junction the route works around the top of a ravine like area that drops down into Cassidy Arch Canyon.  About 300 feet farther the route crosses over small shallow drainage as the route veers right (south).  A bout 200 feet farther the route drops down onto slickrock (wCassidyRP-05).

Once on the slickrock (wCassidyRP-05) route find your way south about 500 feet over to the top of Cassidy Arch.  This portion of the route may have cairns.  At this point you can not see Cassidy Arch since you are over it and there is expansive slickrock between you and the arch. 

To route find your way along the slickrock continue south and follow the line between the white slick rock and reddish slickrock.  The reddish slickrock will be wide open with features to route find your way around.  As you look across the reddish slickrock look for a white slickrock mound / peak.  Roughly follow the  canyon edge on the left (east) while keeping the white mound / peak to the right (west) of your line of travel.

You may not notice Cassidy Arch until you are right up on it.  Cassidy Arch (yCassidyArchTp) is huge, so if you can't see it right away just walk around a little and it will jump out at you.  The huge arch is very impressive when viewed from the west above it.  This vantage point also makes a great place to watch people on the first rappel as they go under the arch.

The Canyoneering / Technical Section:
From the top of Cassidy Canyon (yCassidyArchTp) take a few minutes to enjoy the incredible view.  Lots of people hike up here just to see this arch and it would be a shame to be in a hurry and miss the beauty.

Remember all that talk in the gear and general comments section about rap 1?  The tree is no longer used for rap one as requested by the park.  The bolted anchors for rap 1 have been placed about 30 feet down canyon of the tree to help keep them out of view and allow easy access to them.  Hikers commonly come here for the beauty of Cassidy Arch and seeing webbing on anchors may detract fro that experience.

To get to Rap 1, walk over to the LDC (north) side of the arch and slightly up canyon of the arch itself.  Locate a large juniper then walk about 30 feet down canyon (toward the arch) and scramble down around a short drop to find two bolted hangers.

Rap 1 (dCassidyR1) is anchored from two bolted hangers about head high and drops mostly free hanging about 140 feet down the side of the canyon next to Cassidy Arch.  The view while on rappel is great but watching someone rappel is even better from the right angles.  This is an awesome rappel if you like big air and lots of scenic value.

From the bottom of rap 1 go down canyon a few feet then scramble down and through a short slot out onto a wide open slickrock ledge.  Walk along the slickrock ledge on the RDC side out to rap 2.  As you walk over to rap 2 it is a good idea to have a tether handy so you can clip into the anchors at the rap station.  The ledge where rap 2 is located is exposed and a fall would be fatal.

Rap 2 (dCassidyR2) is about 140 feet down canyon of rap 1 and is anchored from two bolted hangers out on a ledge on the RDC side up out of the actual water course.  Rap 2 drops down to the water course below on a ledge like area then down the side of a slot to the canyon floor below into a large chamber like area with the total drop being about 140 feet.

Walk down canyon from rap 2 and exit the slot at the end of the chamber.  As you exit the slot you will find a ravine joining in from the RDC side as the canyon takes a sharp left into a cross joint.  Continue about 100 feet in the now narrow canyon to rap 3.

Rap 3 (dCassidyR3-5) is anchored from 2 bolted hangers about head high on the RDC side and drops about 40 feet into a narrow slot.  The second stage goes through a small arch.

Rap 4 is right at the bottom of rap 3 in the slot and is anchored from two bolted hangers on the LDC side and drops about 30 feet passing through a small arch.

Note:
Raps 3 and 4 here used to be a single two stage rappel. Anchors were added in 2016 to save the tree and reduce rope grooves.

Rap 5 close to the bottom of rap 4, anchored from 2 bolted hangers and drops about 40 feet.  Just down canyon of rap 5 is a downclimb of about 8 feet in a crack to another cross joint.

Just down canyon of rap 5 is a downclimb of about 8 feet along a crack.  At the bottom of the downclimb you are in another cross joint where the main canyon turns hard right.  If you go left there is an interesting dry fall to go look at.  Continue down canyon a little over 100 feet to the top of rap 5.

Rap 6 (dCassidyR6) is anchored LDC from a set of bolted hangers and drops about 50 feet through an arch.  This rappel reminds me a little of the arch rappel in Neon Canyon but on a smaller scale and no water. 

Note:
To save on rope grooves consider throwing the rappel rope down through the arch then tossing the pull line over the top of the arch.  When you pull your ropes you can pull from a ways down canyon to get a smooth pull and leave less rope grooving.

About 200 feet down canyon is a large drop in the water course.  Running rope through the crack at the top of the drop would be a sure way to get it stuck.  Fortunately there is a cooler way down this.  When you get to the drop climb up about 10 feet on the LDC side to get up to a ledge that traverses down canyon.  When you get up to look at the ledge you will find steps carved out in the rock and a cable system attached to the rock as a hand rail.  You can walk this ledge without the cable but the hand rail sure does help the peace of mind.  The steps and cable are left overs from an old route that people used to use to hike up into Cassidy Canyon from the bottom.  In the past there was a wooden bridge that allowed people to climb up to this ledge on the down canyon side then walk the ledge to go up canyon.  The bridge is still there but is in bad shape.  Stay safe, stay off the bridge.  To get to the next rap walk the ledge with cables out to a set of bolted anchors about 40 feet along the ledge.

Rap 7 (dCassidyR7) is out on the ledge with cables, anchored from a set of bolted hangers and drops about 50 feet down the LDC side of the canyon. 

After rap 7 continue down canyon past the old bridge about 15 feet overhead.  Down canyon is easy walking for a little of 300 feet to rap 7.

Rap 8 (dCassidyR8) is anchored from a tree and drops about 35 feet.

Down canyon of rap 8 walk on the RDC side through some boulder debris then under a long sweeping overhang.  About 200 feet down canyon of rap 7 you will find yourself high up on the RDC side of the canyon.  Route find your way down a steep slope with various use trails through boulder debris and dirt. 

As you get to the bottom of the hill and back in the watercourse of the canyon (wCassidyRP-06) the main watercourse winds right and begins to travel southeast.  A side ravine joins in from the north.  Follow the watercourse about 750 out to the Grand Wash road where the canyon ends (yCassidyArchBt).

The Exit:
From end of the canyon at the Grand Wash road (yCassidyArchBt) turn left and walk east along the dirt road about 0.4 miles back to the Grand Wash parking area where you left your vehicle (tGrandWash).

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.

Cassidy Arch Canyon (1) - Drive in to Trailhead
  1. 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.
  2. tGrandWash          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26373   W -111.21570        Elev: 5,425 Feet
    Parking area at the Grand Wash trailhead.
Cassidy Arch Canyon (2) - Approach
  1. tGrandWash          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26373   W -111.21570        Elev: 5,425 Feet
    Parking area at the Grand Wash trailhead.
  2. tCassidy          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26586   W -111.21350        Elev: 5,390 Feet
    Junction out of Grand Wash for the trailhead to Cassidy Canyon.
  3. wCassidyRP-01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26419   W -111.21581        Elev: NaN Feet
    Short section where the trail follows a narrow ledge.
  4. wCassidyRP-02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26601   W -111.22020        Elev: 5,720 Feet
    Trail crosses over a drainage.
  5. wCassidyRP-03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26474   W -111.22105        Elev: NaN Feet
    A rock bench to contour around.
  6. wCassidyRP-04          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26333   W -111.22085        Elev: 5,830 Feet
    A prominent point along the trail. At this point there is a large dead bristle cone pine and good views. To the south is looking over Grand Wash and the Shinob Canyons with the peak of Ferns Nipple in the distance. To the west you start to see Cassidy Arch come into view.
  7. jCassidyRte          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26430   W -111.22472        Elev: 5,960 Feet
    Junction where the route over to Cassidy Arch leaves the main trail. Leave the trail and travel southwest over to the top of Cassidy Arch. Continuing on the trail to the morthwest goes to Cohab Canyon then to the campgrounds 4 miles away.
  8. wCassidyRP-05          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26268   W -111.22576        Elev: NaN Feet
    Route drops down onto slickrock. Route find your way about 500 feet over to teh top of Cassidy Arch.
  9. yCassidyArchTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26109   W -111.22585        Elev: 5,980 Feet
    Top of Cassidy Arch Canyon. This is just above Cassidy Arch and a great view down into the canyon below. To get to Rap 1, walk over to the LDC (north) side of the arch and slightly up canyon of the arch itself.  Locate a large juniper then walk about 30 feet down canyon (toward the arch) and scramble down around a short drop to find two bolted hangers.
Cassidy Arch Canyon (3) - Canyon and Exit
  1. yCassidyArchTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26109   W -111.22585        Elev: 5,980 Feet
    Top of Cassidy Arch Canyon. This is just above Cassidy Arch and a great view down into the canyon below. To get to Rap 1, walk over to the LDC (north) side of the arch and slightly up canyon of the arch itself.  Locate a large juniper then walk about 30 feet down canyon (toward the arch) and scramble down around a short drop to find two bolted hangers.
  2. dCassidyR1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26112   W -111.22558        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 1 - Cassidy Arch Canyon. Anchored from two bolted hangers about head high and drops mostly free hanging about 140 feet down the side of the canyon next to Cassidy Arch.  The view while on rappel is great but watching someone rappel is even better from the right angles.  This is an awesome rappel if you like big air and lots of scenic value. Do not use the large Juniper Tree as the anchor.
  3. dCassidyR2          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26122   W -111.22520        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 2 - Cassidy Canyon. Anchored from two bolted hangers out on a ledge way up out of the water course and drops about 140 feet to the canyon floor over a convoluted path don to a large chamber like area.
  4. dCassidyR3-5          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26151   W -111.22498        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 3, 4 and 5 - Cassidy Arch Canyon. Rap 3 anchored from 2 bolted hangers about head high on the RDC side and drops about 40 feet into a narrow slot. Rap 4 is right at the bottom of rap 3 in the slot and is anchored from two bolted hangers on the LDC side and drops about 30 feet passing through a small arch. Note that raps 3 and 4 here used to be a single two stage rappel. Anchors were added in 2016 to save the tree and reduce rope grooves. Rap 5 close to the bottom of rap 4, anchored from 2 bolted hangers and drops about 40 feet. Just down canyon of rap 5 is a downclimb of about 8 feet in a crack to another cross joint.
  5. dCassidyR6          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26184   W -111.22454        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 6 - Cassidy Canyon. Anchored LDC from a set of bolted hangers and drops 50 feet through an arch. This rappel reminds me of the arch rappel in Neon Canyon but on a smaller scale and no water. To save on rope grooves consider throwing the rappel rope down through the arch then tossing the pull line over the top of the arch.  When you pull your ropes you can pull from a ways down canyon to get a smooth pull and leave less rope grooving.
  6. dCassidyR7          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26152   W -111.22397        Elev: 5,700 Feet
    Rap 7 - Cassidy Canyon. By passes a drop in the water course that would eat ropes if used as a rappel. Anchored from a set of bolted hangers about 40 feet out on a ledge LDC with cables and steps carved in it. Rap 6 drops about 50 down the side of the canyon bypassing a drop in the water course.
  7. dCassidyR8          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26163   W -111.22292        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 8 - Cassidy Arch Canyon. Anchored from a tree and drops about 35 feet.
  8. wCassidyRP-06          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26209   W -111.22240        Elev: NaN Feet
    At the bottom of a steep slope and back to the watercourse. Follow the main water course as it winds right and begins to go southeast. A big side ravine comes in near here from the (north).
  9. yCassidyArchBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26163   W -111.22060        Elev: 5,490 Feet
    Bottom of Cassidy Arch Canyon where it is now wide open wash and meets the Grand Wash road.
  10. tGrandWash          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26373   W -111.21570        Elev: 5,425 Feet
    Parking area at the Grand Wash trailhead.