Exit Rappel - Photo by Hank Moon

Elephant Butte

Arches National Park
Rock Scramble

          At 5653' Elephant Butte is the highest point inside Arches National Park. This puts a nice big bulls eye on the summit for those seeking adventure. The route is a phenomenal scramble on a sandstone butte in the middle of a beautifully eroded landscape. The route to the summit requires route selection, rock scrambling and rappelling.

Circle of Friends:
          Elephant Butte is part of the "Circle of Friends" program. Members of the "Circle of Friends" have access to more specific information, explicit route information, GPS waypoints, trailhead location and detailed maps. If you would like more information on joining the "Circle of Friends" visit the sign up page.

"Circle of Friends"

Hank Moon Climbing Elephant Butte Shane on Rappel - Photo by Hank Moon

General Information:
          The Elephant Butte route is best described as a scramble with rappels. This route should not be difficult for your average technical canyoneer or rock climber. This route is similar to a canyoneering route with the exception that it runs up-hill. This route is rated 5.4 III using the Yosemite Decimal System or 3A III using the Canyon Rating System. You will need an Arches Canyoneering Permit to enter Elephant Butte.

          Elephant Butte requires complete technical gear. Navigation for this route is moderate. The area can be confusing so paying attention to your map and route description is required. A GPS is useful in identifying waypoints and verifying your location. Good map reading skills and the ability to follow directions are helpful.

          You will encounter areas of cryptobiotic crust along this route. Please avoid disturbing all cryptobiotic crust. Stay on existing trails, walk in wash bottoms or on slickrock. Go out of your way, literally, to avoid cryptobiotic soil. Cryptobiotic crust requires five to ten years of undisturbed growth before it even becomes visible as an irregular, blackish mat on the soil surface. A single careless hiker can destroy decades of growth.

From the top of Elephant Butte

Trailhead Information:
          The trailhead is located inside Arches National Park and  is accessible to all vehicles in all conditions.

Shauna & Shane on the summit. Downclimbing the exit slot.

          Enjoy a short video from Elephant Butte.


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