“Short and sweet slot canyon that ends on the banks of the Colorado River. Serious fun!”
— Almonzo Wilder
Cathedral Wash is a short and scenic slot canyon with easy access and big rewards. This moderate adventure has no major technical challenges, though there is some scrambling and care should be taken to choose safe routes over ledges and dropoffs. And, of course, any run in this desert wilderness needs to be taken seriously with respect to heat and weather.
Features: River/Creek — Views
Dogs: No Dogs
Need to Know
This canyon has potential for flash flooding - avoid if there are thunderstorms in the area.
A bit too much scrambling to make for a good run.
The trailhead for Cathedral Wash is 1.3 miles north of Navajo Bridge on the road to Lee's Ferry. From the parking pullout head east into lower Cathedral Wash, which at this point is a shallow sandy arroyo. As you walk downstream the canyon walls quickly rise above and the scenery improves dramatically. Further on, the wash develops into a true slot canyon, with high sheer walls, fantastic geology, and not much sunlight penetrating to the canyon bottom.
While most of the walking is easy, there are a few ledges that require some scrambling and care should be taken to scout the best route. Eventually Cathedral Wash opens up at the Colorado River within Marble Canyon. Because the Glen Canyon Dam is not far upstream, the river runs clear and blue here.
Enjoy the scenery, which may include groups of rafters just beginning their trips through the Grand Canyon from the Lee's Ferry put-in spot a few miles above. When you're done soaking in the canyon scenery head back up the way you came.