Thursday, June 20, 2019
Pool Arch Canyoneering Route in Moab Utah
Whether you call it Rock of Ages or Pool Arch Canyon, this Canyoneering route is a fun one. With some spectacular views and rappels it's a fantastic hike to knock off a day with. Generally it's gonna have some water in the canyon, not as much on hotter days, or days where there has been no rain fall for a while. Rock of Ages canyon is a spectacular route to mess around in.
This route is located in the South West quadrant of Moab and is accessed from the trail head just off of Kane Creek right a long side the Colorado River. There is lots of camping and parking in the area, but be careful, most of it is on Private Property and there are fee stations (Posts and boxes) asking for parking fees. It is on the honor system I believe and not really patrolled as far as we noticed. There is a huge parking pull out where we stopped and a sign post for a $10 parking fee. The canyon is worth it, and there really isn't much of anywhere else to park in that area without adding additional hiking time and distances. The canyon makes a loop and you end up hiking back down the canyon afterward ending back at this parking spot.
Once parked and ready to go, you hike up Pritchett Canyon along the dirt road for about 10-15 min. Be careful to pay attention to traffic. This is a popular Jeep/UTV road and trail up into Pritchett Canyon and you may encounter vehicles on this road that you will need to move off the road way for. Most people that we encountered were courteous and aware of hikers. We did have bandanna's and "Buffs" with us that we put over our nose and mouth to cut down on the dust we were breathing in when they passed by us.
After the short hike up the road you will see a narrow looking drainage coming in from your left. This is your exit location from the road and the beginning of the climb up to the rim where you will encounter Pool Arch. Be aware on the hike up that there is another arch you will hike underneath on your right hand side. Sometimes it's not easy to see until after you have passed by it and stop to look back. This route once on top is becoming more and more worn and it shouldn't be too hard to stay on the path and staying in the right direction towards Pool Arch. This hike up through the canyon does come with some exposed climbs and scrambles. It's a high class 4 in a couple of locations so you need to be sure of your footing and grappling skills. A handline might be needed for some, be sure to put your helmet on for safety.
Once at Pool Arch the fun begins. You can bypass the initial rappel into the Arch Chamber if you want with a hike down on the side of the arch, but why would you pass up this spectacular rappel. Lisa had done this canyon a number of times and this was her first time doing this rappel (refer to video as we discuss this).
Be prepared on the third / final rappel. It catches a lot of people a little off guard if your not expecting it. There is some exposure to it and some major penalty points. You have to lean out from the edge of the great abyss in order to rig it. We simply tied a hard line to the hand line anchor on top and used this as a safety point for the rigger to be tied into. Also consider using a safety tether off of your harness to connect to the main anchor while rigging it or helping others to rig in. With the tie in, we didn't feel this was necessary, however if Jeff had slipped or been knocked over the edge, it would have taken him a bit of work to get back up over the lip with out having the safety tether attached. We really should have done it and you should too.
After dropping the third and final rappel, you can follow the social trail out of this little split off and you end up back on the Pritchett Canyon road. It's about a 30 min walk from here back down the same road you started on and to your car.
This canyoneering route really isn't a Slot Canyon as Moab doesn't have many of those. Like most of the other routes in the area it's a route through and between sandstone fins giving the impression of a slot canyon. It's still a gorgeous route and a fun trip and one that should be on your bucket list if looking for a canyoneering route in Moab to do.
If you are interested in seeing the whole un-edited video that we shot on this trip, you can check out our Patreon Page for further information on gaining access to that full video: