Canyoneering Route Description

Midget Rattler Canyon - 4A II(III)
Escalante National Monument, Utah.

Quick Facts

05-24-14, 8 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 3.5 hours)
05-09-20, 4 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 3.3 hours) Pictures Icon

Time Required - 3 to 4 hours
Distance - 3.3 miles Total, 0.5 miles Technical
Rappels - 3 Rappels, Longest Rappel 95 feet.
Elevation Range - 5575 - 6120 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 95 feet and 30 feet of 1 inch webbing for sling placement.  A Sandtrap is not mandatory but helpful for the final rappel.

General Comments

Midget Rattler Canyon is a fun half day route with good scenic value with some very deep narrow spots.  Midget Rattler is definitely worth going to check out when you have time.  The route ends in the back end of a huge alcove that many people hike to from the road.  With that in mind do not toss your ropes down the final rappel before checking to see if anyone is below.

There may be a little water if you go after recent rains but it is mostly avoidable and would only be knee deep in places.

The 4 in technical rating is due to a Sandtrap being helpful but not mandatory.  The final rappel sometimes has a deadman anchor that will need to be dug up and inspected.  Using a sandtrap at the final rappel is simple and avoids the hassle of the deadman anchor but you need to have and know how to use a Sandtrap.

Driving Directions

To get to the Trailhead

From the town of Boulder Utah turn off of highway 12 onto the Burr Trail Road.  Follow the Burr Trail Road east for about 10.8 miles to and un-signed turn off on the left (northwest) side of the road leading a few hundred feet to a large dirt parking area (pkTheGulch).  The turn off for the parking area is about 0.5 miles after a sharp left hand switch back in the road after getting to the bottom of hill in and area known as The Gulch.

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 part of approach and the technical section.

Details

The Approach:
From parking spot / trailhead (pkTheGulch) walk northwest over to then down a slope into The Gulch when use-trails form going north up The Gulch.

Shortly after dropping down the dirt slop from the parking area a fence (Gulch01-Fence) across the drainage to cross through.  Continue northwest up The Gulch.

About 0.4 feet farther is a 500 foot long wall (Gulch02-Steep) along the east side of the creek. This is also where Steep Creek dumps into The Gulch from the west.

About 0.4 miles farther up The Gulch is a large drainage (Gulch03) joins in from left (northwest).

About 1000 feet farther up is a small drainage (jMidgetRat1) dropping in on the right (east) obscured by trees with banks about 20 feet tall.  To go to Midget Rattler, leave The Gulch and go east up the side drainage about 280 feet to near the base of the cliff wall.

As the drainage turns right (MidgetRat01) and continues south along the base of the cliff wall. Continue south roughly following the base of the wall for about 230 feet to where the drainage ends by steep slickrock.

Note:
Optionally you could walk up onto the dirt hill a little higher and follow a few developing use trails but staying down by the wash makes route finding easy and less impactful.

As the drainage ends (MidgetRat02) at steep slickrock, veer right and walk southwest up the dirt slope about 75 feet to where a constructed trail begins going up to the southwest.

Where the constructed trail begins (MidgetRat03) follow south up the constructed trail for about 550 feet as it continues to climb the side of the cliff and has sections where you can see a lot of work was put in to cutting part of the rock away to form this old cattle trail.

At the top of a major cut in section (MidgetRat04) the route makes a switchback and goes northeast up along a series of ledges. As you start walking the ledges northeast contour upward and in a very short distance you will begin to see cairns and well traveled trail again.

About 1000 feet farther the trail crosses a short section of slickrock (MidgetRat05) and may be a little hard to follow. Just continue northeast a short distance to find cairns and well traveled path again. Shortly after this spot the trail veers right and begins traveling east up a wide bowl like area. Follow the path about 300 feet to cairns leading the way up out of the bowl.

Where cairns mark where the route starts up out of the bowl (MidgetRat06), go southeast up a mix of slickrock and dirt with the occasional cairn and well traveled path to follow.

About 600 feet up the hill the route briefly tops out (MidgetRat07) where you can see a large flat area just south. Veer left and travel east contouring along the side of a wide dirt ridge then slowly contour up to the top of the ridge where comfortable.

About 500 farther the route tops out (MidgetRat08) on the wide dirt ridge. Continue northeast about 300 feet to where you are looking east down dirt slopes into the top of Midget Rattle Canyon.

When you can see down into Midget Rattler (MidgetRat09) scramble down the dirt slopes into the head of the canyon. If you are too far down canyon, you will be cliffed out and not able to scramble down in and will need to walk the rim north a little bit to where you can scramble in.

The Canyoneering / Technical Section:
Once down in the canyon (yMidgetRatTp) near a double drop in the wash, bypass this first drop of about 30 feet by going around on the LDC side then scrambling down to just above a second drop. The second drop is an easy scramble down a 15 foot long trough to a spot that could hold water but there are ledges that will allow you to easily get around the water. Continue down canyon in wide wash and trees.

Note:
Up canyon of here is just gently sloping wash.

A little over 600 feet down canyon are some large rocks to scramble over (MidgetRat10) then down an easy stem downclimb of about 10 feet on the LDC side. Just after this is another short downclimb through a pour-off with an area at the bottom that could collect water but again has ledges allowing you to get around the water if there is any.

About 380 feet down canyon is a short V slot to scramble down (MidgetRat11) and into a very short subway feature then the walls open up wide again.

About 275 feet farther is another short V slot to scramble down (MidgetRat12) but this time you are entering the committed canyon with rappel 1 shortly down canyon. Over the next 250 feet of canyon are about 3 stem style downclimbs of about 8 to 12 feet each before reaching the first rap which goes under a huge boulder wedged between the walls.

Rap 1 (dMidgetRatR1) is anchored from a small log wedged overhead in the pinch point between a huge boulder and the canyon wall and drops about 40 feet down into deep narrow and scenic canyon.  Rap 2 is close to the bottom of rap 1.

Rap 2 (dMidgetRatR2) is anchored from a chokestone about head high and drops about 50 feet down a skinny V slot. Getting onto Rap 2 can be tricky depending on your body size. Very small people can squeeze under the chock stone that is the anchor and get on rap there. Average to larger people will need to stem up about 12 feet to get over top of the chock stone anchor then stem down in the V slot to the anchor and get on rap there. The down climb is not difficult but can be awkward due to slick walls and the slot being skinny enough you need to hang your pack so that you can fit. From the top rap 2 looks like it may be a downclimb but due to unfavorable geometry and slick sandy walls this is a bad idea.

Down canyon of rap 2 is easy walk through slot with pretty walls and lots of colorful lighting for pics down to the last rap.  Rap 3 is about 230 feet down canyon.

Rap 3 (dMidgetRatR3) is anchored using a Sandtrap or deadman anchor and drops about 95 feet with some free hang into a huge beautiful chamber. People often hike into here from the road for pic-nics and just casual hiking scenery.

From the bottom of rap 3 walk about 300 feet down canyon in wide scenic wash in a huge chamber like canyon to where the walls widen out (yMidgetRatBt).

The Exit:
From where the walls of the deep chamber widen out to sandy wash and lots of trees (yMidgetRatBt) continue southeast a short distance then follow use trails up to the road (jMidgetRat2) about 200 feet away.

Once at the road (jMidgetRat2) turn right and walk southwest down the road about 0.7 miles to the trailhead (pkTheGulch).

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.

Midget Rattler (1) - Approach
  1. pkTheGulch          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.85744   W -111.30950        Elev: 5,575 Feet
    Large parking area in an area known as The Gulch. To go to Midget Rattler and Not Water Canyon walk northwest over to then down a slope into The Gulch when use-trails form going north up The Gulch.
  2. Gulch01-Fence          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.85785   W -111.31043        Elev: NaN Feet
    Fence across the drainage to cross through.
  3. Gulch02-Steep          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.86319   W -111.31193        Elev: NaN Feet
    500 foot long wall along the east side of the creek. This is also where Steep Creek dumps into The Gulch from the west.
  4. jSnakeletBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.86464   W -111.31212        Elev: NaN Feet
    Bottom of a small side canyon som erefer to as Snakelet.
  5. Gulch03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.86828   W -111.31049        Elev: NaN Feet
    Large drainage joins in from northwest.
  6. jMidgetRat1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.87075   W -111.30899        Elev: 5,655 Feet
    small drainage dropping in on the right (east) obscured by trees with banks about 20 feet tall. To go to Midget Rattler, leave The Gulch and go east up the side drainage about 280 feet to near the base of the cliff wall. To go to Not Water Canyon continue northish up The Gulch.
  7. MidgetRat01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.87063   W -111.30803        Elev: NaN Feet
    Drainage turns right and continues south along the base of the cliff wall. Continue south roughly following the base of the wall for about 230 feet to where the drainage ends by steep slickrock. Note: Optionally you could walk up onto the dirt hill a little higher and follow a few developing use trails but staying down by the wash makes route finding easy and less impactful.
  8. MidgetRat02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.87007   W -111.30832        Elev: NaN Feet
    As the wash ends at steep slickrock, veer right and walk southwest up the dirt slope about 75 feet to where a constructed trail begins going up to the southwest.
  9. MidgetRat03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.86990   W -111.30848        Elev: NaN Feet
    A constructed trail begins goinjg south up a slickrock slope. Follow south up the constructed trail for about 550 feet as it continues to climb the side of the cliff and has sections where you can see a lot of work was put in to cutting part of the rock away to form this old cattle trail.
  10. MidgetRat04          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.86872   W -111.30947        Elev: NaN Feet
    Top of a slope that has had major work done to cut the rock away. Once at the top of the cut away spot the route makes a switchback and goes northeast up along a series of ledges. As you start walking the ledges northeast contour upward and in a very short distance you will begin to see cairns and well traveled trail again.
  11. MidgetRat05          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.87057   W -111.30705        Elev: NaN Feet
    Trail crosses a short section of slickrock and may be a little hard to follow. Just continue northeast a short distance to find cairns and well traveled path again. Shortly after this spot the trail veers right and begins traveling east up a wide bowl like area. Follow the path about 300 feet to cairns leading the way up out of the bowl.
  12. MidgetRat06          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.87073   W -111.30607        Elev: NaN Feet
    Cairns mark where the route starts up out of the bowl and goes southeast up a mix of slickrock and dirt with the occasional cairn and well traveled path to follow.
  13. MidgetRat07          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.86941   W -111.30542        Elev: NaN Feet
    Route briefly tops out where you can see a large flat area just south. Veer left and travel east contouring along the side of a wide dirt ridge then slowly contour up to the top of the ridge where comfortable.
  14. MidgetRat08          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.86940   W -111.30384        Elev: NaN Feet
    Route tops out on the wide dirt ridge. Continue northeast about 300 feet to where you are looking east down dirt slopes into the top of Midget Rattle Canyon.
  15. MidgetRat09          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.86996   W -111.30293        Elev: 6,120 Feet
    When you are able to look east down over Midget Rattler, scramble down the dirt slopes into the head of the canyon. If you are too far down canyon, you will be cliffed out and not able to scramble down in and will need to walk the rim north a little bit to where you can scramble in.
  16. yMidgetRatTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.87026   W -111.30200        Elev: 6,033 Feet
    Top of Midget Rattler Canyon where you can scramble down in from the west side next to a drop in the canyon. Up canyon of here is just is gently sloped wash. Bypass this first drop of about 30 feet by going around on the LDC side then scrambling down to just above a second drop. The second drop is an easy scramble down a 15 foot long trough to a spot that could hold water but there are ledges that will allow you to easily get around the water. Continue down canyon in wide wash and trees.
Midget Rattler (2) - The Canyon and Exit
  1. yMidgetRatTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.87026   W -111.30200        Elev: 6,033 Feet
    Top of Midget Rattler Canyon where you can scramble down in from the west side next to a drop in the canyon. Up canyon of here is just is gently sloped wash. Bypass this first drop of about 30 feet by going around on the LDC side then scrambling down to just above a second drop. The second drop is an easy scramble down a 15 foot long trough to a spot that could hold water but there are ledges that will allow you to easily get around the water. Continue down canyon in wide wash and trees.
  2. MidgetRat10          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.86854   W -111.30206        Elev: NaN Feet
    Some large rocks to scramble over then down an easy stem downclimb of about 10 feet on the LDC side. Just after this is another short downclimb through a pour-off with an area at the bottom that could collect water but again has ledges allowing you to get around the water if there is any.
  3. MidgetRat11          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.86760   W -111.30181        Elev: NaN Feet
    Short V slot to scramble down and into a very short subway feature then the walls open up wide again.
  4. MidgetRat12          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.86696   W -111.30231        Elev: NaN Feet
    Another short V slot to scramble down but this time you are entering the committed canyon with rappel 1 shortly down canyon. Over the next 250 feet of canyon are about 3 stem style downclimbs of about 8 to 12 feet each before reaching the first rap which goes under a huge boulder wedged between the walls.
  5. dMidgetRatR1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.86633   W -111.30210        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 1 - Midget Rattler. Anchored from a small log wedged overhead in the pinch point between a huge boulder and the canyon wall and drops about 40 feet down into deep narrow and scenic canyon.
  6. dMidgetRatR2          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.86626   W -111.30198        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 2 - Midget Rattler Canyon. Anchored from a chokestone about head high and drops about 50 feet down a skinny V slot. Getting onto Rap 2 can be tricky depending on your body size. Very small people can squeeze under the chock stone that is the anchor and get on rap there. Average to larger people will need to stem up about 12 feet to get over top of the chock stone anchor then stem down in the V slot to the anchor and get on rap there. The down climb is not difficult but can be awkward due to slick walls and the slot being skinny enough you need to hang your pack so that you can fit. From the top rap 2 looks like it may be a downclimb but due to unfavorable geometry and slick sandy walls this is a bad idea. Down canyon of rap 2 is easy walk through slot with pretty walls and lots of colorful lighting for pics down to the last rap.
  7. dMidgetRatR3          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.86573   W -111.30157        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 3 - Midget Rattler Canyon. Anchored using a sandtrap or deadman anchor and drops about 95 feet with some free hang into a huge beautiful chamber. People often hike into here from the road for pic-nics and just casual hiking scenery. From the bottom of rap 3 walk about 300 feet down canyon in wide scenic wash in a huge chamber like canyon to where the walls widen out.
  8. yMidgetRatBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.86507   W -111.30108        Elev: 5,720 Feet
    Bottom of Midget Rattler Canyon where the walls of the deep chamber widen out to sandy wash and lots of trees. To exit, continue southeast a short distance then follow use trails up to the road about 200 feet away.
  9. jMidgetRat2          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.86466   W -111.30045        Elev: 5,660 Feet
    Use trails up out of the bottom of Midget Rattler meet the road. To go back to the cars, turn right and walk southwest down the road about 0.7 miles to the trailhead.
  10. pkTheGulch          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.85744   W -111.30950        Elev: 5,575 Feet
    Large parking area in an area known as The Gulch. To go to Midget Rattler and Not Water Canyon walk northwest over to then down a slope into The Gulch when use-trails form going north up The Gulch.