Canyoneering Route Description

Who Knew Canyon - 3A(B) II
North Wash, Utah

Quick Facts

03-23-19, 13 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 7 hours) Pictures Icon time includes both Who Knew and Ponderosa Canyons.

Time Required - 3 to 4 hours
Distance - 5.1 miles Total, 0.6 miles Technical
Rappels - 2 Rappels, Longest Rappel 80 feet.
Elevation Range - 4420 - 5080 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 80 feet and 30 feet of 1 inch webbing for sling placement.

Wetsuits may be a good idea if there has been recent rains and cool weather. If dry conditions and warmer weather, wetsuits should be left at the car. Most water is avoidable but there is a chance you will need to or accidentally slip into water.

General Comments

Who Knew qualifies more as a hike with ropes than as a true canyon route but does offer a few short bursts of fun.  If you happen to be in the area and want to have a lazy day with at least a little fun, this may might fit the bill.  If looking for an awesome canyoneering route, save your energy for something more rewarding.

When we went to check see what was in the canyon we found an anchor already set at one of the rappels so we knew we were not the first.  Since we did not expect much fun on this route we were also doubtful others took the time to visit it in the past.  When we found an anchor already in place, someone exclaimed Who Knew which we all kept repeating for a while.  With no other ideas for a name we stuck with Who Knew Canyon.

Note:
The approach route described here goes up along the northwest rim of Sandthrax Canyon. Optionally you could route find along the southeast rim instead.

Warning:
Do not accidentally drop into Sandthrax Canyon during the approach or exit. Sandthrax Canyon is a difficult canyon involving high stemming, anchor challenges and an off-width upclimb generally reported to be rated 5.11c. Sandthrax Canyon should only be descended by those who understand the risks and difficulties of such a place. The canyon route described here is an easy route but passes by the top of Sandthrax Canyon during the approach and the exit. Do not let bad navigation, accident or curiosity lead you down into Sandthrax Canyon. There have been people who have mistakenly dropped into Sandthrax Canyon while seeking other nearby canyons. The results are dangerous.

The pictures from 2019 are from a route combining both Who Knew and Ponderosa Canyons following a route between the two not described in either of the routes here. The route between the two was from the bottom of Who Knew, we went down Butler Canyon about half mile then found a weakness to scramble up out of Butler and find our way to the head of Ponderosa. If you also want to combine the routes, a better and shorter way to do this would be to follow the exit for Who Knew up to the top of Sandthrax Canyon, then route find from the top of Sandthrax Canyon about 0.5 miles south to the top of Ponderosa Canyon.

Driving Directions

To get to the Trailhead

From the junction of highways 276 and 95, travel south east on 95 for 2.2 miles to a dirt road on the left (north east) leading into the Sandthrax primitive camp area (lSandthraxCmp).  Turn left into the camp area then continue east through Sandthrax camp to park to begin your route.

Warning:  Halfway through the Sandthrax Camp area is a short section of deep soft sand.  Evaluate your vehicles ability to cross this sand before driving in.  If there is ANY doubt, do not drive through.  Instead park the car and walk the remaining 400 feet to the east end of camp.  It is not worth getting stuck in sand just to avoid walking an extra 400 feet.

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.
Zoomed in map of tech section with approach and exit routes near canyon.

Details

The Approach:
From From the Sandthrax camp area (lSandthraxCmp) walk to the east end of the Sandthrax camp area, follow a use trail through light vegetation up to a small slickrock saddle (Sandthrax01). From the saddle hook left to contour around then following northeast along a large white rock shelf.

Example Pic.

At the end of the white slickrock shelf (Sandthrax02) scramble up to the left going up moderately steep slickrock about 400 feet to where you can turn right and begin route-finding northeast roughly following the rim of Sandthrax Canyon on your right (southeast). There is no one best way through this area but the aim is to route find about 0.6 miles northeast roughly following the rim of Sandthrax.

About 0.4 miles along the rim is a short narrow ledge to walk (Sandthrax03) or you can cross lower dropping down then up through a shallow bowl. There is no one best way through this route but each time I have followed this route we always pass through this spot.  Continue northeast about 0.25 miles to where you can walk down to the head of Sandthrax Canyon.

When you get to the head of Sandthrax (ySandthraxTp) walk northeast up the wide flat drainage up from Sandthrax.

About 200 feet up the flat Sandthrax drainage meets semi steep slickrock (WhoKnew01). Route find up to the northeast for about 700 feet to a wide saddle. Do not follow up the main drainage as it veers left (northwest).

Example Pic.

From the saddle (WhoKnew02) walk left (northwest) about 700 feet up the nose to the dirt mesa top.

Once on the dirt mesa top (WhoKnew03) turn right and walk north roughly following the rim.

About 0.75 miles farther scramble east off the rim down a rubble pile weakness (WhoKnew04).

About 250 feet down the slopes is the top of the Who Knew drainage (WhoKnew05). Continue south-ish wide open slick rock and shallow canyon for about 800 feet bypassing a couple minor drops before reaching the top of the canyon (yWhoKnewTp). 

The Canyoneering / Technical Section:
From top of Who Knew Canyon (yWhoKnewTp) where deeper slot forms, continue about 170 feet down canyon bridging over a couple potholes then down steeper slot with galumphing, light stemming and couple easy stem style down climbs of 8 to 10 feet before the canyon opens up to a large ledge.

The large ledge (WhoKnew06) is at the start of a 125 foot long slot that can easily be walked around on the LDC (east) side then back in canyon. Playing through the slot starts with a drop of about 20 feet that starts off moderately sloped and gradually gets steeper. In dry conditions the first drop could be downclimbed by some but is best done on handline with someone above providing meat anchor. The remainder of this slot has 3 easy stem style downclimbs of 8, 6 then 5 feet followed by a few potholes to bridge over to avoid water if full. One of the potholes is a semi wide but is relatively easy to bridge over.

Where the canyon opens again is where you would walk back in canyon (WhoKnew07) if you bypassed the slot above. Down canyon is a series of large potholes in very shallow canyon that are easy to walk around on the LDC side.

Shortly after is a wide cross joint and where a the next slot forms (WhoKnew08) with easy galumphing and a couple short easy downclimbs down to the first rap. Portions of this slot can hold waist deep water when full.

Rap (dWhoKnewR1) anchored LDC using a rock in a solution pocket about head high and drops 30 feet. Continue walking wash down canyon as the walls open up to wide wash.

About 350 feet farther is a shelf (WhoKnew09) in the wash with loose overhanging rock. Bypass RDC scrambling down rubble slopes.

About 500 feet farther is a shelf (WhoKnew10) to get down by bridging through a short sloped slot.

A short distance farther is the start of the next slot (WhoKnew11) is a slide of about 15 feet to a muddy pool that if full would be a wade of about 20 feet long before reaching the next rap.

Rap 2 (dWhoKnewR2) anchored using a pinch point at the top of a short downclimb about 20 feet back and uses about 80 feet of rope and has a vertical drop of about 60 feet.

Continue walking for about 1200 feet to the end of the wash and into Butler Canyon (yWhoKnewBt).

The Exit:
From the end of Who Knew Canyon (yWhoKnewBt) turn right and walk south down Butler Canyon about 350 feet going just past a side canyon on the RDC (west) side.

Just past the side canyon is the bottom of a rubble filled hill (WhoKnew12) on the south side of a side canyon. Scramble west up the rubble hill then up a short ledge to smooth slickrock.

Example Pic.

Once up on smooth slickrock (WhoKnew13) veer right walking north traversing across a shallow trough then continue up to a slickrock ridge and follow the ridge west up toward a large outcropping.

Once at the base of the outcropping (WhoKnew14) contour right (north) around the base of the outcropping then wrap around to continue up to the west.

About 300 feet farther is a huge dirt shelf (WhoKnew15), walk west about 150 feet to contour around the head of a drainage and walk west another 350 feet to a small ledge to walk across to a short sloped chute.

Example Pic.

Scramble up the short chute (WhoKnew16) to open slickrock then turn sharp left and route find (southwest) up semi steep slickrock about 900 feet up to the saddle above Sandthrax. The saddle is the same one you were at on the approach.

Example Pic.

From the saddle (WhoKnew02) walk southwest down semi steep slickrock down toward the top of Sandthrax.

About 200 feet before the top of Sandthrax will be flat wash to walk to the top of the Sandthrax Slot.

From the top of Sandthrax (ySandthraxTp) reverse the approach route by route finding southwest along the north rim of Sandthrax about 0.75 miles back to the Sandthrax camp area (lSandthraxCmp).   (DO NOT drop down into Sandthrax Canyon).

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.

Who Knew Canyon (1) - Approach
  1. lSandthraxCmp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.01645   W -110.53319        Elev: 4,460 Feet
    Sandthrax Camp primative camp area.
  2. Sandthrax01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.01559   W -110.53028        Elev: NaN Feet
    From the east end of the Sandthrax camp area, follow a use trail through light vegetation up to a small slickrock saddle here. From the saddle hook left to contour around then following northeast along a large white rock shelf.
  3. Sandthrax02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.01624   W -110.52881        Elev: NaN Feet
    At the end of the white slickrock shelf scramble up to the left going up moderately steep slickrock about 400 feet to where you can turn right and begin route-finding northeast roughly following the rim of Sandthrax Canyon on your right (southeast). There is no one best way through this area but the aim is to route find about 0.6 miles northeast roughly following the rim of Sandthrax.
  4. Sandthrax03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02057   W -110.52488        Elev: NaN Feet
    Short narrow ledge to walk or you can cross lower dropping down then up through a shallow bowl. There is no one best way through this route but each time I have followed this route we always pass through this spot. Continue northeast about 0.25 miles to where you can walk down to the head of Sandthrax Canyon.
  5. ySandthraxTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02198   W -110.52064        Elev: 4,790 Feet
    Top entry for Sandthrax Canyon in a large flat area at the top of a narrow slot. To drop into Sandthrax, walk southwest down toward the slot. To go to Who Knew Canyon, walk northeast up the wide flat drainage up from Sandthrax. To continue the exit from Who Knew Canyon reverse the approach route by route finding southwest along the north rim of Sandthrax about 0.75 miles back to the Sandthrax camp area. (DO NOT drop down into Sandthrax Canyon)
  6. WhoKnew01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02249   W -110.52035        Elev: NaN Feet
    Wide flat drainage above Sandthrax meets semi steep slickrock. Route find up to the northeast for about 700 feet to a wide saddle. Do not follow up the main drainage as it veers left (northwest).
  7. WhoKnew02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02389   W -110.51859        Elev: 4,970 Feet
    Saddle at the very top of the Sandthrax drainage. To go to Who Knew, walk left (northwest) up the nose about 700 feet to the dirt mesa top. To exit from Who Knew, walk southwest down semi steep slickrock down toward the top of Sandthrax.
  8. WhoKnew03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02577   W -110.51957        Elev: 5,034 Feet
    Once at the mesa top in rolling desert, turn right and walk north roughly following the rim.
  9. WhoKnew04          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.03482   W -110.51373        Elev: 5,080 Feet
    Scramble east off the rim down a rubble pile weakness.
  10. WhoKnew05          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.03446   W -110.51310        Elev: 5,010 Feet
    Top of the Who Knew drainage. Continue south-ish wide open slick rock and shallow canyon for about 800 feet bypassing a couple minor drops.
  11. yWhoKnewTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.03243   W -110.51341        Elev: 4,860 Feet
    Top of Who Knew where deeper slot forms. Continue about 170 feet down canyon bridging over a couple potholes then down steeper slot with galumphing, light stemming and couple easy stem style down climbs of 8 to 10 feet before the canyon opens up to a large ledge.
Who Knew Canyon (2) - The Canyon
  1. yWhoKnewTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.03243   W -110.51341        Elev: 4,860 Feet
    Top of Who Knew where deeper slot forms. Continue about 170 feet down canyon bridging over a couple potholes then down steeper slot with galumphing, light stemming and couple easy stem style down climbs of 8 to 10 feet before the canyon opens up to a large ledge.
  2. WhoKnew06          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.03194   W -110.51338        Elev: NaN Feet
    Large ledge at the start of a 125 foot long slot that can easily be walked around on the LDC (east) side then back in canyon. Playing through the slot starts with a drop of about 20 feet that starts off moderately sloped and gradually gets steeper. In dry conditions the first drop could be downclimbed by some but is best done on handline with someone above providing meat anchor. The remainder of this slot has 3 easy stem style downclimbs of 8, 6 then 5 feet followed by a few potholes to bridge over to avoid water if full. One of the potholes is a semi wide but is relatively easy to bridge over.
  3. WhoKnew07          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.03160   W -110.51349        Elev: NaN Feet
    Open spot where you would walk back in canyon if you bypassed the slot above. Down canyon is a series of large potholes in very shallow canyon that are easy to walk around on the LDC side.
  4. WhoKnew08          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.03098   W -110.51393        Elev: NaN Feet
    Wide cross joint and where a the next slot forms with easy galumphing and a couple short easy downclimbs down to the first rap. Portions of this slot can hold waist deep water when full.
  5. dWhoKnewR1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.03061   W -110.51416        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 1 - Who Knew. Anchored LDC using a rock in a solution pocket about head high and drops 30 feet. Continue walking wash down canyon as the walls open up to wide wash.
  6. WhoKnew09          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02965   W -110.51418        Elev: NaN Feet
    Shelf in the wash with loose overhanging rock. Bypass RDC scrambling down rubble slopes.
  7. WhoKnew10          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02845   W -110.51480        Elev: NaN Feet
    Shelf to get down by bridging through a short sloped slot.
  8. WhoKnew11          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02808   W -110.51465        Elev: NaN Feet
    At the start of this next slot is a slide of about 15 feet to a muddy pool that if full would be a wade of about 20 feet long.
  9. dWhoKnewR2          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02793   W -110.51450        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 2 - Who Knew. Anchored using a pinch point at the top of a short downclimb about 20 feet back and uses about 80 feet of rope and has a vertical drop of about 60 feet. Continue walking for about 1200 feet to the end of the wash and into Butler Canyon.
  10. yWhoKnewBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02544   W -110.51245        Elev: 4,430 Feet
    Bottom of Who Knew Canyon where it dumps into Butler Canyon. To exit turn right and walk south down Butler about 350 feet going just past a side canyon on the RDC (west) side.
Who Knew Canyon (3) - Exit
  1. yWhoKnewBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02544   W -110.51245        Elev: 4,430 Feet
    Bottom of Who Knew Canyon where it dumps into Butler Canyon. To exit turn right and walk south down Butler about 350 feet going just past a side canyon on the RDC (west) side.
  2. WhoKnew12          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02438   W -110.51301        Elev: 4,420 Feet
    Bottom of a rubble filled hill on the south side of a side canyon. Scramble west up the rubble hill then up a short ledge to smooth slickrock.
  3. WhoKnew13          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02407   W -110.51381        Elev: NaN Feet
    Once up on smooth slickrock here veer right walking north traversing across a shallow trough then continue up to a slickrock ridge and follow the ridge west up toward a large outcropping.
  4. WhoKnew14          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02455   W -110.51537        Elev: NaN Feet
    Once at the base of the outcropping here contour right (north) around the base of the outcropping then wrap around to continue up to the west.
  5. WhoKnew15          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02456   W -110.51640        Elev: NaN Feet
    At this huge dirt shelf, walk west about 150 feet to contour around the head of a drainage and walk west another 350 feet to a small ledge to walk across to a short sloped chute.
  6. WhoKnew16          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02585   W -110.51666        Elev: NaN Feet
    Scramble up the short chute to open slickrock then turn sharp left and route find (southwest) up semi steep slickrock about 900 feet up to the saddle above Sandthrax. The saddle is the same one you were at on the approach.
  7. WhoKnew02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02389   W -110.51859        Elev: 4,970 Feet
    Saddle at the very top of the Sandthrax drainage. To go to Who Knew, walk left (northwest) up the nose about 700 feet to the dirt mesa top. To exit from Who Knew, walk southwest down semi steep slickrock down toward the top of Sandthrax.
  8. WhoKnew01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02249   W -110.52035        Elev: NaN Feet
    Wide flat drainage above Sandthrax meets semi steep slickrock. Route find up to the northeast for about 700 feet to a wide saddle. Do not follow up the main drainage as it veers left (northwest).
  9. ySandthraxTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02198   W -110.52064        Elev: 4,790 Feet
    Top entry for Sandthrax Canyon in a large flat area at the top of a narrow slot. To drop into Sandthrax, walk southwest down toward the slot. To go to Who Knew Canyon, walk northeast up the wide flat drainage up from Sandthrax. To continue the exit from Who Knew Canyon reverse the approach route by route finding southwest along the north rim of Sandthrax about 0.75 miles back to the Sandthrax camp area. (DO NOT drop down into Sandthrax Canyon)
  10. Sandthrax03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02057   W -110.52488        Elev: NaN Feet
    Short narrow ledge to walk or you can cross lower dropping down then up through a shallow bowl. There is no one best way through this route but each time I have followed this route we always pass through this spot. Continue northeast about 0.25 miles to where you can walk down to the head of Sandthrax Canyon.
  11. Sandthrax02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.01624   W -110.52881        Elev: NaN Feet
    At the end of the white slickrock shelf scramble up to the left going up moderately steep slickrock about 400 feet to where you can turn right and begin route-finding northeast roughly following the rim of Sandthrax Canyon on your right (southeast). There is no one best way through this area but the aim is to route find about 0.6 miles northeast roughly following the rim of Sandthrax.
  12. Sandthrax01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.01559   W -110.53028        Elev: NaN Feet
    From the east end of the Sandthrax camp area, follow a use trail through light vegetation up to a small slickrock saddle here. From the saddle hook left to contour around then following northeast along a large white rock shelf.
  13. lSandthraxCmp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.01645   W -110.53319        Elev: 4,460 Feet
    Sandthrax Camp primative camp area.