Canyoneering Route Description

Ex Wife Canyon - 3A III
Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Quick Facts

10-21-16, 4 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 8 hours) Pictures Icon

Time Required - 7 to 8 hours
Distance - 6.7 miles Total, 0.6 miles Technical  (add 0.4 miles to also go up to the top to look over the edge).
Rappels - 4 Rappels, Longest Rappel 145 feet.
Elevation Range - 5390 - 6480 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 145 feet and 50 feet of 1 inch webbing for sling placement.

General Comments

Ex Wife is a fun route worth visiting. The route drops into the canyon a few hundred feet from the head. The few hundred feet between the head and the drop in does not offer much in the way of committed technical fun but is worth the trip up to the top for the views. Or you can save time and skip the trip up canyon and quickly head on down canyon.

The route described here travels from the upper Grand Wash trailhead and up the Cassidy Arch Trail then to the Frying Pan Trail to get up to Ex Wife Canyon. After descending Ex wife Canyon the route rejoins the Frying Pan Trail which is followed back to and down the Cassidy Arch Trail back to Grand Wash back to the car.  Optionally Ex Wife Canyon can also be accessed from the campground / picnic area by following the Cohab Canyon Trail to the Frying Pan trail but this is not described here.

Note:
After finishing Ex Wife Canyon and rejoining the Frying Pan Trail, where the trail is faint and well washed over with occasional flooding. The trail here is faint and may be easily missed. Sometimes the trail is marked with cairns but they may not always be there. Pay close attention so you do not accidentally pass the trail and continue another 0.8 miles down to Hwy 24.

If out for a non-technical hike in the area and you are up for some scrambling and up climbing to great views going to the head of the canyon is a real treat and would make a great picnic spot. To get to the head you would follow the approach route down into the canyon then go up canyon about 200 feet to the upper end of a deep walk through corridor. From the top of the corridor you can fight some thick vegetation then upclimb a cross joint then route find your way along the north rim for a few hundred feet to the head where you will have incredible views down over the scenic drive in one direction and over Ex Wife in the other direction.

Thanks to John Diener for sharing info on this route. He named it Ex Wife to stay in keeping with the naming of the near by canyons Wife 1 through 6.

Note:
I have been told that as of Feb 2019 significant rope grooving is beginning to appear in the lower portions of the canyon.  Please take time to rig ropes and anchors in a way to minimize creating more rope grooves.

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.  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.
Map of the technical section.

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.  To continue to Ex Wife Canyon, continue west along the trail.

About 0.75 miles farther the Frying Pan trail crosses a minor wash (FryPanTrl01).

About 800 feet farther the trail tops out (FryPanTrl03) where you have expansive views to the north.

A little over 100 feet farther the trail goes around a bend (jExWife1) just north of a top out in the trail. To go to Ex Wife Canyon leave the trail at the apex of the corner and travel up the slope to the west staying on the north side of rock outcroppings.

Shortly after leaving the trail is the top out of the slope (ExWife01) with expansive view northwest over and down to Ex Wife Canyon about 1000 feet away. Route find northwest down into a small valley that runs more north down toward the white sandstone area near the wide upper section of Ex Wife.

About 900 feet away is top of a gully (ExWife02) that can be downclimbed / scrambled down into Ex Wife. This is only one of a few possible ways down into Ex Wife here. The terrain is convoluted and there is no one best way to scramble in but plan on a few steep downclimbs on the way down. A little route finding and scrambling may be required to find a route that works for you.

After getting down the gully make your way down into Ex Wife Canyon (jExWife-Mid2), walk east down canyon in open sandy wash. 

The Side Trips:
For a scenic side trip you can walk up canyon about 450 feet to a 90 foot long deep walk through corridor (ExWife03). At the upper end of the corridor you will be about 200 feet from the canyon head but stopped by a vertical wall (ExWife04). You can then upclimb / scramble up a cross joint (ExWife05) to the north then find route find to the head of the canyon (yExWifeTp) passing around the head of three cross joints on the way (ExWife06), (ExWife07) and (ExWife08).  At the head are great views over the scenic drive below. If you have time to kill and like scrambling, it is worth the time to go to the head of the canyon for the views.  Reverse the scramble route back to where you dropped into the canyon.  From there you can hike back to the trail if on a non-technical hike or continue down canyon to enjoy the technical fun.

The Canyoneering / Technical Section:
From the drop in ((jExWife-Mid2), walk east down canyon in open sandy wash for about 350 feet to rap 1.

Rap 1 (dExWifeR1) is anchored from a tree and drops about 145 feet starting down sloped shallow slot then going mostly vertical with a few ledges. Walk wide sandy wash for a little over 500 feet to the start of a boulder field.

From the top of the boulder field (ExWife10) boulder hop through for about 100 feet down to the next rap.

Rap 2 (dExWifeR2) is anchored RDC from a tree and drops about 55 feet with an awkward start and free hang for about half the rap. Optionally this rap can be bypassed by going around RDC and scrambling down toward some large white boulders.

About 200 feet farther is a large drop (ExWife11-Bypas) that can be bypassed by going RDC through the large white boulders, step over a cross joint and continue RDC to a ramp system allowing an easy scramble down. Continue scrambling down through boulder to the next rap.

Rap 3 (dExWifeR3) is anchored from a pinch point near the RDC side after scrambling down through boulders and drops about 90 feet over boulder debris that can be a little awkward in spots. The less awkward route is down the RDC side of a large fin. Continue down canyon with a mix of boulder hopping and short cracks for about 250 feet to the top of a deeper more vertical crack.

About 40 feet before reaching the deep crack is a  ledge about 15 feet up on the LDC (west) side (ExWife12). Scramble up to then walk the ledge down canyon to the anchor for the next rap.

Note:
You will likely miss this ledge and go down to the top of a deep and steep crack. Reverse back up canyon about 40 feet to scramble up to the ledge.

Rap 4 (dExWifeR4) is anchored from a tree on the ledge and uses about 45 feet of rope with a vertical drop of about 30 feet. Optionally the rap can be anchored from small column between solution pockets on the wall.

After rap 4 is a 250 foot long section starting right at the bottom of rap 4 with a stem style downclimb of about 20 feet down to a shallow pool where the canyon turns hard right at the other end (ExWife13). Followed by a moderately difficult slabby downclimb of about 15 feet where you can find features along the LDC side. Followed by an elevator downclimb of about 30 feet with very slick walls where you may need to hang your pack as it is pretty skinny. At the bottom of the elevator is a pool that can be stemmed over with some extra effort due to slick walls.

A few hundred feet down canyon is a 6 foot downclimb (ExWife14) to a waist or chest deep pool if full of water. After the pool is flat sandy wash to walk.

About 350 feet farther is where you can bypass a short drop (ExWife15) walking around on a ledge.

About 200 feet farther is the bottom of Ex wife canyon (yExWifeBt) where it drops into Frying Pan Canyon.

The Exit:
From the end of Ex Wife Canyon (yExWifeBt ) turn right (northeast) and walk about 0.3 miles down the wash to meet the Frying Pan Trail. Be careful not to pass the trail as it is faint and easily missed (jFryPanBt).

Note:
While walking out of Ex Wife / Frying Pan Canyon it can be easy to miss the trail as it is faint and sometimes marked with cairns. If you pass it and continue walking down the wash you would get to Hwy 24 about 0.8 miles down stream.

When you get to the Frying Pan Trail (jFryPanBt) turn right and and walk south up the trail to go to the Cassidy Arch trail in Grand Wash..  Following the trail south toward Grand Wash the trail is over large sections of slickrock and is generally cairned. Follow up the slickrock route finding for about 450 to where the trail begins to get easier to follow.

As the trail begins to be easier to follow (FryPanTrl06) stick to the trail for about 0.8 miles back up to where you left the trail to go to the top of Ex Wife Canyon (jExWife1).

Follow the trails about 2.2 miles back to the Upper Grand Wash Trailhead where you parked the car (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.

Ex Wife (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. tGrandWash          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26373   W -111.21570        Elev: 5,425 Feet
    Parking area at the Grand Wash trailhead.
Ex Wife (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. To go to Cassidy Arch, leave the trail and travel southwest over to the top of Cassidy Arch. To continue to Ex Wife Canyon or Cohab Canyon, continue west along the trail.
  8. FryPanTrl01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26642   W -111.23491        Elev: NaN Feet
    Frying Pan trail crosses a minor wash.
  9. FryPanTrl03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26822   W -111.23662        Elev: 6,450 Feet
    Trail tops out where you have expansive views to the north.
  10. jExWife1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26842   W -111.23698        Elev: 6,440 Feet
    Trail goes around a bend about 100 feet north of a top out in the trail. To go to Ex Wife Canyon leave the trail at the apex of the corner and travel up the slope to the west staying on the north side of rock outcroppings.
  11. ExWife01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26832   W -111.23758        Elev: 6,480 Feet
    Top of the slope shortly after leaving the trail with expansive view northwest over and down to Ex Wife Canyon about 1000 feet away. Route find northwest down into a small valley that runs more north down toward the white sandstone area near the wide upper section of Ex Wife.
  12. ExWife02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26979   W -111.23967        Elev: NaN Feet
    Top of a gully that can be downclimbed / scrambled down into Ex Wife. This is only one of a few possible ways down into Ex Wife here. The terrain is convoluted and there is no one best way to scramble in but plan on a few steep downclimbs on the way down. A little route finding and scrambling may be required to find a route that works for you.
  13. jExWife-Mid2          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27050   W -111.23964        Elev: 6,330 Feet
    One of a few possible spots to scramble down into upper Ex Wife Canyon. Walk east down canyon in open sandy wash. Note For a scenic side trip you can walk up canyon about 450 feet to a 90 foot long deep walk through corridor. At the upper end of the corridor you will be about 200 feet from the canyon head but stopped by a vertical wall. You can then upclimb / scramble up a cross joint to the north then find routefind to the head of the canyon for great views over the scenic drive below. If you have time to kill it is worth the time to go to the head of the canyon for the views.
Ex Wife (3) - Side trip to Head
  1. jExWife-Mid2          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27050   W -111.23964        Elev: 6,330 Feet
    One of a few possible spots to scramble down into upper Ex Wife Canyon. Walk east down canyon in open sandy wash. Note For a scenic side trip you can walk up canyon about 450 feet to a 90 foot long deep walk through corridor. At the upper end of the corridor you will be about 200 feet from the canyon head but stopped by a vertical wall. You can then upclimb / scramble up a cross joint to the north then find routefind to the head of the canyon for great views over the scenic drive below. If you have time to kill it is worth the time to go to the head of the canyon for the views.
  2. ExWife03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27012   W -111.24094        Elev: NaN Feet
    Bottom end of a tall narrow walk through corridor about 90 feet long.
  3. ExWife04          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27060   W -111.24107        Elev: NaN Feet
    Upper end of the 90 foot long walk through corridor and a vertical drop preventing up canyon travel. From here it is about 200 feet to the head of the canyon. You can push through some thick vegetation then upclimb and scramble up a cross joint on ont the LDC (north) side then route find west along the rim working around other cross joints to get to the head of the canyon for great views down over the scenic drive.
  4. ExWife05          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27076   W -111.24089        Elev: NaN Feet
    Top of cross joint to scramble out.
  5. ExWife06          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27092   W -111.24137        Elev: NaN Feet
    Head of a cross joint to go around.
  6. ExWife07          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27124   W -111.24161        Elev: NaN Feet
    Head of a cross joint to go around. Can easily rap short drop to get in if desired.
  7. ExWife08          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27106   W -111.24178        Elev: NaN Feet
    Head of a cross joint to go around. Can easily rap short drop to get in if desired.
  8. yExWifeTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27066   W -111.24188        Elev: 6,400 Feet
    Top of Ex Wife accessed by scrambling up out of Ex Wife about 200 feet down canyon and route finding along the north rim to here. In that 200 feet of canyon are 4 drops and a couple open sandy spots. The drop right at the head of the canyon is about 120 feet-ish and the rest are much shorter.
Ex Wife (4) - The Canyon
  1. jExWife-Mid2          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27050   W -111.23964        Elev: 6,330 Feet
    One of a few possible spots to scramble down into upper Ex Wife Canyon. Walk east down canyon in open sandy wash. Note For a scenic side trip you can walk up canyon about 450 feet to a 90 foot long deep walk through corridor. At the upper end of the corridor you will be about 200 feet from the canyon head but stopped by a vertical wall. You can then upclimb / scramble up a cross joint to the north then find routefind to the head of the canyon for great views over the scenic drive below. If you have time to kill it is worth the time to go to the head of the canyon for the views.
  2. dExWifeR1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27092   W -111.23869        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 1 - Ex Wife. Anchored from a tree and drops about 145 feet starting down sloped shallow slot then going mostly vertical with a few ledges. Walk wide sandy wash for a little over 500 feet to the start of a boulder field.
  3. ExWife10          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27169   W -111.23707        Elev: NaN Feet
    Top end of a boulder field to boulder hop through for about 100 feet down to the next rap.
  4. dExWifeR2          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27196   W -111.23702        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 2 - Ex Wife. Anchored RDC from a tree and drops about 55 feet with an awkward start and free hang for about half the rap. Optionally this rap can be bypassed by going around RDC and scrambling down toward some large white boulders.
  5. ExWife11-Bypas          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27228   W -111.23646        Elev: NaN Feet
    Large drop that can be bypassed by going RDC through the large white boulders, step over a cross joint and continue RDC to a ramp system allowing an easy scramble down. Continue scrambling down through boulder to the next rap.
  6. dExWifeR3          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27269   W -111.23622        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 3 - Ex Wife. Anchored from a pinch point near the RDC side after scrambling down through boulders and drops about 90 feet over boulder debris that can be a little awkward in spots. The less awkward route is down the RDC side of a large fin. Continue down canyon with a mix of boulder hopping and short cracks for about 250 feet to the top of a deeper more vertical crack.
  7. ExWife12          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27337   W -111.23589        Elev: NaN Feet
    A ledge about 15 feet up on the LDC (west) side about 40 feet before reaching the top of a deep steep crack. Scramble up to then walk the ledge down canyon to the anchor for the next rap. You will likely miss this ledge and go down to the top of a deep and steep crack. Reverse back up canyon about 40 feet to scramble up to the ledge.
  8. dExWifeR4          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27356   W -111.23594        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 4 - Ex Wife. Anchored from a tree on the ledge and uses about 45 feet of rope with a vertical drop of about 30 feet. Optionally the rap can be anchored from small column between solution pockets on the wall.
  9. ExWife13          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27362   W -111.23586        Elev: NaN Feet
    After rap 4 is a 250 foot long section starting right at the bottom of rap 5 with a stem style downclimb of about 20 feet down to a shallow pool where the canyon turns hard right at the other end. Followed by a moderately difficult slabby downclimb of about 15 feet where you can find features along the LDC side. Followed by an elevator downclimb of about 30 feet with very slick walls where you may need to hang your pack as it is pretty skinny. At the bottom of the elevator is a pool that can be stemmed over with some extra effort due to slick walls.
  10. ExWife14          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27469   W -111.23552        Elev: NaN Feet
    6 foot downclimb to a waist or chest deep pool if full of water. After the pool is flat sandy wash to walk.
  11. ExWife15          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27571   W -111.23566        Elev: NaN Feet
    Bypass a short drop walking around on a ledge.
  12. yExWifeBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27635   W -111.23565        Elev: 5,740 Feet
    Bottom of Ex wife canyon where it drops into Frying Pan Canyon. Turn right (northeast) and walk about 0.3 miles down the wash to meet the Frying Pan Trail. Be careful not to pass the trail as it is faint and easily missed.
Ex Wife (5) - Exit
  1. yExWifeBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27635   W -111.23565        Elev: 5,740 Feet
    Bottom of Ex wife canyon where it drops into Frying Pan Canyon. Turn right (northeast) and walk about 0.3 miles down the wash to meet the Frying Pan Trail. Be careful not to pass the trail as it is faint and easily missed.
  2. jFryPanBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27821   W -111.23138        Elev: 5,690 Feet
    Bottom end of Frying Pan Canyon meets the Frying Pan Trail. While walking out of Ex Wife / Frying Pan Canyon it can be easy to miss the trail as it is faint and sometimes marked with cairns. If you pass it and continue walking down the wash you would get to Hwy 24 about 0.8 miles down stream. To exit turn right and walk south up the trail to go to the Cassidy Arch trail in Grand Wash or turn left to walk north to then through Cohab Canyon down to the campground and picnic area. Following the trail south toward Grand Wash the trail is over large sections of slickrock and is generally cairned. Follow up the slickrock route finding for about 450 to where the trail begins to get easier to follow.
  3. FryPanTrl06          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.27747   W -111.23232        Elev: NaN Feet
    Trail to the south is easier to follow and better defined. Trail to the north drops down to Frying Pan Canyon and is mostly slick rock that is generally cairned.
  4. jExWife1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26842   W -111.23698        Elev: 6,440 Feet
    Trail goes around a bend about 100 feet north of a top out in the trail. To go to Ex Wife Canyon leave the trail at the apex of the corner and travel up the slope to the west staying on the north side of rock outcroppings.
  5. FryPanTrl03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26822   W -111.23662        Elev: 6,450 Feet
    Trail tops out where you have expansive views to the north.
  6. FryPanTrl01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26642   W -111.23491        Elev: NaN Feet
    Frying Pan trail crosses a minor wash.
  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. To go to Cassidy Arch, leave the trail and travel southwest over to the top of Cassidy Arch. To continue to Ex Wife Canyon or Cohab Canyon, continue west along the trail.
  8. 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.
  9. tGrandWash          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.26373   W -111.21570        Elev: 5,425 Feet
    Parking area at the Grand Wash trailhead.