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Thread: Trip Planning: May: Lower End of Grand Gulch and Capitol Reef, Tenkara Fly Fishing

  1. #1

    Trip Planning: May: Lower End of Grand Gulch and Capitol Reef, Tenkara Fly Fishing

    Hi, I'm finally getting back to Southern Utah for the first time since 2011 when I got to explore Grand Gulch from the top to an exit at Collins. I promised myself I would be back to do the lower section to the San Juan and also to spend some time in Capitol Reef. Well the time as arrived, I scored good priced tickets to Vegas and will be there in the first half of May. I have 9 days total.

    Grand Gulch: I'm looking at spending 3 days heading down-canyon and back from the Collins TH. What are some must see in that section of GG. I hope to get to Shaw arch and see some of the great rock art I've heard about in this section. This will be my third trip to GG but I still feel like a noob here. So appreciate any advice. Love working a bit for my rock art/ruins and GG never disappoints. My two previous trips have been in April and this year will be the latest in the spring that I've been in GG. Planning for the second week of May and would appreciate any wisdom on water availability. Is three days enough. Realistically how much time is needed to get the most out of this section of GG? Would 6 days be too much?

    Capitol Reef: The second part of my trip will be 3 days in Capitol Reef. I've driven through from Boulder via the Burr/Bullfrog Rds and was blown away by the landscape and have always wanted more time to visit. I realize 3 days is not much. I hope to spend two days in the Halls Creek Narrows and spend a day hiking some of the slot Canyons off the Bullfrog Rd (Burro Wash/ Cottonwood Wash/ Sheets Gulch). If I had another few days to spend in CR NP what would be a recommended overnight with challenging route finding, tough terrain, rock art and decent water? Something that would make for some good memories. Any beta for the Narrows or for those slot canyons.

    Finally does anyone have advice on Fly Fishing in May? Tenkara specifically and where might be good to spend a few days. Was thinking the Escalante/Boulder area. Flying in and out of Vegas.

    Thanks so much in advance

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  3. #2
    Grand Gulch: I'm looking at spending 3 days heading down-canyon and back from the Collins TH. What are some must see in that section of GG. I hope to get to Shaw arch and see some of the great rock art I've heard about in this section. This will be my third trip to GG but I still feel like a noob here. So appreciate any advice. Love working a bit for my rock art/ruins and GG never disappoints. My two previous trips have been in April and this year will be the latest in the spring that I've been in GG. Planning for the second week of May and would appreciate any wisdom on water availability. Is three days enough. Realistically how much time is needed to get the most out of this section of GG?
    That is the part of Grand Gulch I haven't seen, but good descriptions are in the following two books:

    https://www.amazon.com/Non-Technical...215410&sr=8-2&

    https://www.amazon.com/Utahs-Incredi...215446&sr=1-1&

    For most, 3 days would be enough to reach Shaw Arch, but not the San Juan River. I don't think 6 days would be too many as all sections of Grand Gulch are filled with side canyons and nooks and crannies.

    Capitol Reef:
    The second part of my trip will be 3 days in Capitol Reef. I've driven through from Boulder via the Burr/Bullfrog Rds and was blown away by the landscape and have always wanted more time to visit. I realize 3 days is not much. I hope to spend two days in the Halls Creek Narrows and spend a day hiking some of the slot Canyons off the Bullfrog Rd (Burro Wash/ Cottonwood Wash/ Sheets Gulch). If I had another few days to spend in CR NP what would be a recommended overnight with challenging route finding, tough terrain, rock art and decent water? Something that would make for some good memories. Any beta for the Narrows or for those slot canyons.
    Good plan. Those canyons you mention are really good. Upper Muley Twist is a good one too. If you have extra days, there is lots to explore up and down canyon from the Halls Creek Narrows.That could be your extra overnighter. Don't miss Brimhall Arch and Canyon either.
    Utah is a very special and unique place. There is no where else like it on earth. Please take care of it and keep the remaining wild areas in pristine condition. The world will be a better place if you do.

  4. Likes lossofvelocity liked this post
  5. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by lossofvelocity View Post
    Any beta for the Narrows or for those slot canyons.
    http://climb-utah.com/Capitol/burro1.htm

    http://climb-utah.com/Capitol/cottonwood.htm

    http://climb-utah.com/Capitol/sheets.htm

    http://climb-utah.com/Capitol/hallscreeknarrows.htm

    For Burro and Cottonwood look at the bottom of the technical page for hiking options (non-tech).


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  7. #4
    Scott P. and Iceaxe,

    Thank you both for the links and responses. I scored a 5 day permit for GG earlier today so that will be the focus of this trip with one day to explore some slots off the Bullfrog road in CPNP and three days of fishing out of Escalante before I need to be back in Vegas.

    After reading some lower GG trip reports I quickly realised 3 days would not be enough, and once I confirmed permit availability I decided to commit to more time in GG. I'm psyched to be going back. As I mentioned, my last trip there was in April 2011, I've never been in Southern Utah this late in the Spring. Last time we had snow in the top of GG on the first night and very chilly mornings on the first few days but by the time we hiked out at Collins it was quite hot. What should I expect temp wise in the lower section in early May in terms of nightime lows? Will it likely drop below 50F?

    Thanks again

  8. #5
    What should I expect temp wise in the lower section in early May in terms of nightime lows? Will it likely drop below 50F?
    It could definitely drop below 50, but days can be pretty hot. Overall it should be pretty warm, but not usually extremely hot. Mid 70's to mid 80's will be most common in the day with mid-40's to mid-50's at night.
    Utah is a very special and unique place. There is no where else like it on earth. Please take care of it and keep the remaining wild areas in pristine condition. The world will be a better place if you do.

  9. #6
    Just a follow up. I've searched through here for Beta on a possible exit of GG via Water Canyon to the Borehole parking. Keep seeing reference to a rotten log needed to exit. Wondering if there is any update on that?

    Best beta I found was the GPX track here. Anything more recent?
    https://backcountrypost.com/threads/...r-canyon.3152/

    Thanks

  10. #7
    It's good you've got more time for GG; even this section of GG has interesting ruins and glyphs, and, given your interest, it'd be a shame to hurry it. I was in this section last April; good water, temps 40s overnight, 80s day. In May, add 10 degrees, and I'd definitely check with rangers about water; Kelsey mentions some sources also.
    Traditionally, people hike down to Shaw from Collins, and there are some nice ruins and pictographs along that route that make it worthwhile. In some ways, Shaw is overrated, and I don't recommend skipping the rest of that section of GG in order to just get to Shaw.
    Water canyon has 3 forks; Kelsey's 6th ed. Nontechnical Canyon Hiking Guide has excellent beta on this, p 196. The middle fork has a more difficult section with the log, although friends of mine found a non-log route. You can enter and exit either branch of the north fork without anything technical, they are just long slogs, the more southern of the two branches of the north fork is a touch easier, shorter. Kelsey notes some ruins in middle fork; they are not impressive.
    You can also enter or exit via Redman Canyon, about an hour's overland hike south from Collins Spring trailhead, this is a nice short entry, much easier than Water. You could enter Collins, exit Redman (or vice versa) and save nearly a day over using Collins for both entry and exit.
    We entered Water and exited Shaw. twohikers.org has a nice writeup of a Shaw exit; one part has mild exposure, we took and used a rope. You can also enter at Shangrila, not sure that really helps. Last year, rockslides made the final 2 miles to the San Juan river impassable, the rangers can update you.
    Kelsey is a good place to start for ideas to look for ruins/glyphs. We found a few ruins upcanyon in Shaw, and you won't want to ignore the abandoned meanders between Shaw and Shangrila. We found little in Shangrila. Good luck!

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