Every so often, we at the Lodge like to pick a trail in Capitol Reef and tell you about it. That way, if you’re in the park and in the mood for a hike, then you know where to find a good one. This time around we’re highlighting Grand Wash. It’s a great little hike in the main section of the park, so you should be able to work it into any trip to Capitol Reef.
You can actually get to the hike from two directions. There’s a trailhead off the main highway, and one on the Scenic Route, where it shares a parking lot with the Cassidy Arch trailhead. We do recommend that, if possible, you park a vehicle on both sides, so that you don’t need to hike back the way you came. But just be aware that there is a fee to drive down the Scenic Toll Route. As of this writing it’s $15 for a week pass.
About the Hike
Grand wash is one of the easiest hikes in the park. The terrain is flat, if a bit sandy, with little to no elevation change. It’s 2.2-miles one way, from trailhead to trailhead. It’s a canyon hike, with steep, white, sandstone cliffs on each side. Which is great if you’re doing it in summer, since it’s almost always shaded.
Why We Love It
While it’s not the most narrow or dramatic canyon hike in Capitol Reef, it is definitely the most accessible. Which is not to downplay the awesomeness of Grand Wash. After all, Butch Cassidy thought it was good enough to hide out in. (As a side note, there is a ruin of a cabin up the side of the canyon, thought to belong to Butch and his gang when they would lay low after a job. Ask the rangers in the park, they might tell you more about it.) Plus the canyon is great for families and kids, since its cool, short, and easy. We at the Lodge love it, and we think you will too!
Note: As with all canyon trails, if you’re hiking during monsoon season, be aware of flash floods. The park will usually close the hike if there is a risk of flooding.