Canyoneering Route Description

Flintstone Canyon - 3B III
Coconino National Forest, Arizona.

Quick Facts

09-21-08, 5 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 10.35 hours) Pictures Icon

Time Required - 9 to 11 hours
Distance - 9.2 miles Total, 0.85 miles Technical
Rappels - 6 Rappels, Longest Rappel 180 feet.
Elevation Range - 7220 - 5310 Feet
Shuttle Required -Yes 12.3 Miles Vehicle - High Clearance possibly 4WD if roads are bad Permit Required - No

Gear Used for Canyon

Rappelling and anchor gear, Ropes and or pull cords for rappels up to 180 feet and 60 feet of 1 inch webbing for sling placement.  Wet suits are a good idea during times of the year where more water may be present like spring time.  If the canyon has little water you may be ok with no wet suits since the swims are short.  Overall a wet suit is suggested just in case.

General Comments

Flintstone Canyon is a tributary to the West Fork of Oak Creek and is located in the Coconino National Forest on the Mogollon Rim.

To date most of my canyons have been in the Utah area.  This canyon was distinctly different from those.  This rock was a bit different and the area was more forest like than the desert type areas I had been used to.  Moss growing on everything added the perfect touch of green to almost everything.

Flintstone exits into the West Fork of Oak Creek.  The West Fork is an extremely beautiful place as well and deserve a completely separate trip (starting from the bottom) just to enjoy the beauty there.  It is a very scenic place and deserves more attention than can be given while scurrying down canyon after doing a canyoneering route.  If you like the beauty of the Zion Narrows, you will love the section of the West Fork of Oak Creek just below Flintstone Canyon.

Driving Directions

To get to the Trailhead

From the junction of I-40 and I-17 in Flagstaff Arizona, drive 2.9 miles south to the exit for highway 89A.  Follow highway 89A south for 7.5 miles to the turn off for forest service road 535 (wFlintstnDP-01).  Turn right (west) onto forest service road 535. 

Just after turning off of highway 89A and onto forest service road 535 drive 5.3 miles to a turn off (ext535Alt--01).

About 0.22 miles down 535Alt is a fork in the road (wFlintstnDP-01) where you stay right at the fork.

About 0.7 miles farther a faint road comes in from the left (wFlintstnDP-02), stay straight or right.

About 550 feet farther you are at the trailhead (tFlintstoneCny). 

There is no distinct marker for the trailhead.  Just pull to the side of the road where it looks like you can park easily.  To begin the route, leave the road and walk into the forest to the west (right side of the road).

To leave the Exit Vehicle / Escape Pod

From the junction of I-40 and I-17 in Flagstaff Arizona, drive 2.9 miles south to the exit for highway 89A.  Follow highway 89A south for about 13.8 miles to the turn off for the Call of the Canyon day use area (rCallOfcanyon).  Park your car somewhere in this day use area.

There is a fee for leaving your vehicle there.  If you plan to leave your vehicle there overnight it is a good idea to leave a note in the envelope with your money.  The note should be written to explain what you are doing, why you are leaving your vehicle and when you expect to be back for it.  The gates do get locked and communicating your intentions is a good idea.


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 drive into the route.
Map of the entire route.
Map of the technical section.


The Approach:
The trailhead for Flintstone canyon is just an arbitrary spot to pull off to the side of Forest Road 535a.  There is no distinguishing marker for this spot (GPS may help).  From the trailhead hike almost due west through the forest.

A little over 0.25 miles from the trailhead you will cross road (wFlintStnRP-01) that is faint road and appears to be no longer used.  A little over 200 feet from this faint road is a minor drainage (wFlintStnRP-02).  Drop into this minor drainage (not shown on all maps) and follow it southwest.  The wash will eventually turn west then northwest. 

About 0.3 miles after dropping into the minor wash, it will meet the main wash leading to Flintstone Canyon (wFlintStnRP-03). When you reach the main wash for Flintstone Canyon, follow it down stream (southwest).  Following this wash includes boulder hopping and some bash whacking.  There are also a lot of fallen trees to climb over, around and under along the way. 

A little over a mile after starting down the now larger main wash for Flintstone is a large wall LDC (wFlintStnRP-04).  It pops up out of nowhere and definitely grabs your attention since it is in contrast to everything seen on the route thus far.

About 300 feet down stream of the large wall is a drop of about 12 feet you will need to down climb.  As of late 2008 there is a large log at this drop that can be used for climbing down.  If this were to wash away in flash flooding a rap may need to be set up or at least some help belaying each other down the drop.  This drop marks the top entry for Flintstone Canyon (yFlintstnCynTp) and is about 1.9 miles from where you left your car at the forest road.

The Canyon / Technical Section:
Rap 1 (dFlintStnR1) is  little over 100 feet from the entry point down climb.  Rap 1 drops about 30 feet and is anchored from a boulder just above the rap.  Rap 1 drops down a steeply sloped wall to a pool below.  The pool was not completely full but still involved a swim of about 10 feet to get to the other side.  The water temp of this pool can get pretty cold.  If it is a nice day out you can just brave the cold since the swim is short.  On cooler days a wet suit may not be a need but would be a luxury worth having along.

There is a short down climb shortly down canyon from rap 1 that can be easily stemmed. 

Rap 2 (dFlintStnR2) is about 300 feet after rap 1.  Rap 2 drops about 30 feet and is anchored from a very large log just up canyon from the rap.  The log is just laying there and moves when walking on it, but weighs enough that it is still a good anchor.  At the bottom of Rap 2 is a pool.  At times the water level may be was low enough so that the water will be only waist deep at the bottom of the rap.  With more water in the pool it would be a definite swimmer for about 25 feet to the other side.  With low water levels it is possible to walk around the LDC side in about knee deep water.  The bottom of this rap is worth taking a moment to take in the view.  The rock walls RDC are covered with a lot of moss adding bright contrasting color to the dark walls on the other side of the pool.

Below Rap 2 the canyon opens up briefly before getting to a log to walk across over what would be a down climb.  Just below the log walk is what could be a down climb to a pot hole below.  To avoid the pot hole, climb up and over LDC.  Climbing around LDC is up a steep rock bank then down the other side.  The down climb on the other side is a steep scurry down rock and dirt.  Soon after is another down climb (about 12 feet) with a log that could be used to get down.  A safer option is to climb around this drop RDC.

Rap 3 (dFlintStnR3-4) is about 0.1 mile below rap 2.  Rap 3 drops about 30 feet and is anchored from a tree LDC.  The rap starts from the top of a large boulder in the wash.  After passing over the boulder there is a short section of free hanging rappel.  At the bottom of Rap 3 is a narrow section that might be filled with water if there were recent rains but should only get 1 or 2 feet deep even if completely full. 

Rap 4 is about 30 feet from the bottom of rap 3.  Rap 4 drops about 50 feet and is anchored from a boulder about 15 feet away from the top of the rap 4.  Rap 4 starts down a slope for a few feet then drops vertical with 2 short sections of free hanging rappel.  Looking back on this rap definitely looks better than looking down from the top.  Looking back you see where the rappel exits the slot along with the drop along sharply cut sandstone walls.  All the green ivy, shrubs and trees in this area add more to the beauty.  This is another great picture spot.

A little bit down canyon from rap 4 is a down climb of about 25 feet that looks a bit sketchy from the top.  Down climbing in the water shoot here is much easier than it looks.  A combination of but sliding and stemming get you to the bottom quick and easy.

Rap 5 (dFlintStnR5) is about 400 feet down canyon of rap 4.  Rap 5 is anchored RDC from a single bolt and hanger (the only bolt on the route) about head high.  Rap 5 drops down a narrow slot about 110 feet to a level area before dropping again about 60 feet to a pothole at the bottom of the rap making this the longest rappel on the route. For Rap 5 you will need about 180 feet of rope length to rap on.  That length works well for the 2 drops and the short ledge at midpoint.  Part of the way down the first stage of Rap 5, are a few choke stones logged in the slot.  One of these has been used as an anchor in the past and has some webbing on it.  The location of this choke stone would make it awkward to use as a midpoint rap station.  I would recommend bringing enough rope to do the full rap. The pothole at the bottom of Rap 5 was avoidable by stopping short of it and stepping LDC to a ledge.  It is easy to walk along the ledge to the exit of this slot.  The walls at the bottom of rap 5 are close together, tall and wind as they go up.  Very little light gets into this narrow section so it feels more like a chamber.  The exit from the chamber is a short down climb through a slot with a log jammed in it to climb under.

Shortly after rap 5 is a down climb with a choke stone at the top.  A small loop of webbing has been tied to the choke stone as an aid to down climb.  A rope can also be threaded through this webbing for aid along the entire down climb. The down climb drops about 8 feet but is difficult because it is over hung and too wide to stem.  It would not be an easy landing if you decided to jump, since the bottom is steep sloped rock.  This down climb drops into a pool which may be dry if there were no recent rains.  Exiting the pool is an easy walk / climb out the other side.  If there were recent rains it would be a 20 foot or so swim to the other side of the pool.

There are quite a few down climbs down canyon of rap 5.  They just come one right after another.  One of them was entertaining in that there was an opening under some boulders to crawl through.

Another noteworthy down climb was one with a slide to a pool below.  The pool will likely be a swimmer at any time in the year.  The drop to the pool starts out steep but with foot and hand holds.  It soon gets steeper and smoother.  Some people may be able to stem with shoulders on one side and feet on the other side allowing them to ease down into the pool rather than slide in at a fast speed.  Most will need to just slide on in and take the plunge.  No matter how you do this down climb you still need to swim about 25 feet to the other side of the pool.

The next down climb worth mentioning is one that goes over a boulder with a lot of overhang.  Smaller people can take an easier route.  There is a hole at the top of the down climb that goes under the boulder.  The hole is just large enough for smaller people (mostly girls) to fit through.  For the most part the guys will need to use a rope and hand line down the boulder, since they will be too large to fit through the hole. 

There are a few more down climbs before reaching Rap 6.

Rap 6 (dFlintStnR6) is about 0.3 miles down canyon of rap 5.  Rap 6 is anchored from a large rock (not big enough to be called a boulder) that sits below a lip near the top of the rap.  Rap 6 drops about 30 feet to what would be a small pool with recent rains.

Below rap 6 are a few more down climbs before reaching the bottom of Flintstone Canyon (yFlintstnCynBt) where it empties into the West Fork of Oak Creek.

The Exit:
From the exit of Flintstone Canyon it is about 6.5 miles to the West Fork of Oak Creek trailhead where you left the exit vehicle.  This section of the West Fork is absolutely gorgeous.  Along this section there are so many views that make you want to sit and enjoy them.  I highly recommended an early start for this route so you can take some time enjoying this area before it gets dark, it is just that scenic.  This whole section deserves its own trip starting from the lower trailhead and making an out and back trip.

About 2.6 miles down canyon from the exit of Flintstone A huge boulder balancing high on the cliffs above comes into view. 

About 3.2 miles after the exit of Flintstone Canyon well maintained trails emerge (wWstFrkOkRP-01) that lead down canyon to the Lower trailhead where the exit vehicle was left.  The trail crosses the river multiple times along the way.  Each time you cross the next section of trail is pretty easy to spot after crossing to the other side.  There are a couple crossings that are not as easy to spot the trail on the other side though.

A point to note is that the very scenic portion is upstream of the maintained trail.  If a day trip is planned form the bottom up, it would be a waste not to continue upstream from the end of the good trails.  Since upstream is where it starts getting awesome.

 A little over 3 miles of maintained trails get you back to the West Fork of Oak Creek trailhead (tWestFrkOakCrk), then up to the car at the Call of the Canyon day use area (rCallOfcanyon).  Go get the entry vehicle to complete your day. 

GPS Waypoint Information

Downloadable GPX files available at BG-Gear Store (easier than manual entry and a great way to support Bluugnome).
Waypoint naming convention and map symbol information can be found on the Glossary page.  Elevations are approximate.
manually entering coordinates set your system to WGS84 datum and Lat/Lon hddd.ddddd° coordinate format
Inconsistent datum's and coordinate formats will result in location errors.

Click to show / expand the list of waypoints below........
Flintstone Canyon (1) - Drive in to Trailhead
  1. extFsRd535-89          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 35.04681   W -111.73326        Elev: 6,530 Feet
    Drive west on CoRd535 leaving highway 89 Alt.
  2. extFR53590118H          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 35.05157   W -111.75035        Elev: 6,880 Feet
    Junction of roads FR535 and FR90118H. Turn left to stay on 535.
  3. ext535Alt--01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 35.05088   W -111.78178        Elev: NaN Feet
    From this junction CoRd535 Alt leaves the main CoRd535 and travels south. This road will lead over to where Flintsone Canyon is.
  4. wFlintstnDP-01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 35.04790   W -111.78128        Elev: NaN Feet
    There is a fork in the road, turn right.
  5. wFlintstnDP-02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 35.03815   W -111.77915        Elev: NaN Feet
    A faint road comes in from the left. Continue straight or stay right.
  6. tFlintstoneCny          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 35.03673   W -111.77902        Elev: 7,195 Feet
    Trailhead for Flintstone Canyon. No parking spot. Just pull over off the side of the road where you can get out of the way. Forest Service Road 535a.
Flintstone Canyon (2) - Approach
  1. tFlintstoneCny          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 35.03673   W -111.77902        Elev: 7,195 Feet
    Trailhead for Flintstone Canyon. No parking spot. Just pull over off the side of the road where you can get out of the way. Forest Service Road 535a.
  2. wFlintStnRP-01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 35.03752   W -111.78387        Elev: NaN Feet
    The route crosses a now faint and unused road.
  3. wFlintStnRP-02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 35.03769   W -111.78433        Elev: NaN Feet
    Drop into minor drainage and follow down stream, southwest.
  4. wFlintStnRP-03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 35.03694   W -111.78907        Elev: 6,840 Feet
    This is where the minor drainage on the entry route meets the main drainage leading to Flintstone Canyon.
  5. wFlintStnRP-04          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 35.02798   W -111.78401        Elev: NaN Feet
    A large scenic flat wall sits LDC (left) of the wash.
  6. yFlintstnCynTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 35.02763   W -111.78460        Elev: 6,590 Feet
    Top entry for Flintstone Canyon. A 12 foot down climb on a log marks this entry point.
Flintstone Canyon (3) Technical Section
  1. yFlintstnCynTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 35.02763   W -111.78460        Elev: 6,590 Feet
    Top entry for Flintstone Canyon. A 12 foot down climb on a log marks this entry point.
  2. dFlintStnR1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 35.02725   W -111.78470        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 1 for Flintstone Canyon. Drops 30 feet to a pool (swimmer) and is anchored from a boulder.
  3. dFlintStnR2          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 35.02695   W -111.78392        Elev: 6,524 Feet
    Rap 2 in Flintstone Canyon. Drops 30 feet to pool (possible swimmer depending on water levels) and is anchored from a log laying in the wash above the rap.
  4. dFlintStnR3-4          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 35.02713   W -111.78219        Elev: 6,450 Feet
    Raps 3 and 4 in Flintstone Canyon. One right after the other. Rap 3 drops 30 and is anchored from a tree LDC. Rap 4 starts near the bottom of Rap 3, drops 50 feet and is anchored by a boulder. Rap 4 is very scenic looking back up it.
  5. dFlintStnR5          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 35.02744   W -111.78069        Elev: 6,284 Feet
    Rap 5 in Flintstone Canyon. Anchored RDC from the only bolt and hanger on the route. Drops 180 feet down a slot to a pot hole that can be walked around.
  6. dFlintStnR6          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 35.02380   W -111.78161        Elev: 5,908 Feet
    Rap 6 in Flintstone Canyon. Drops 30 feet to small shallow pool and is anchored from a large rock.
  7. yFlintstnCynBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 35.02095   W -111.78335        Elev: 5,750 Feet
    Bottom exit for Flintstone Canyon. This is where Flintstone Canyon empties into the West Fork of Oak Creek.
Flintstone Canyon (4) - Exit
  1. yBarnySpgCynBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 35.01264   W -111.78229        Elev: 5,675 Feet
    Bottom exit for Barney Spring Canyon. This is where Barney Spring Canyon empties into the West Fork of Oak Creek.
  2. wWstFrkOkRP-01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 35.00245   W -111.76820        Elev: NaN Feet
    This is where good trails start and go to the West Fork of Oak Creek Trailhead.
  3. tWestFrkOakCrk          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 34.98825   W -111.74622        Elev: 5,322 Feet
    Trailhead for the West Fork of Oak Creek Trail.
  4. cBridgeWestFrk          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 34.99037   W -111.74476        Elev: 5,310 Feet
  5. pkCallOfCanyon          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 34.99061   W -111.74418        Elev: 5,322 Feet
    Parking area at Call of the Canyon
  6. rCallOfcanyon          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 34.98991   W -111.74150        Elev: 5,437 Feet
    Call of the Canyon day-use area. Park exit vehicle here for some canyon routes.