Moonflower Canyon - Moab

Moonfloor Canyon

Moab
Technical Canyoneering


          The traditional technical route for Moonflower Canyon can best be described as a long, boring, hot hike up the Moab Rim Jeep Trail followed by a heart stopping 197-foot free hanging rappel. I'm providing the route information for the traditional route, but I highly suggest you use the Mastodon Route as it's a much more enjoyable hike, visits a couple of unique panels of rock art along the way, has a shaded approach, and still contains all the best parts of the traditional Moonflower route.

General Information:
Click Here for Google Earth KMZ file.Click Here for Topographic Map          Moonflower Canyon is a technical canyoneering route that contains a dramatic 197-foot rappel. This rappel can unnerve even experienced canyoneers as you literally step off into space. The views are dramatic. Total time required form trailhead to trailhead is approximately 3 hours. Moonflower Canyon requires complete technical gear. Moonflower Canyon is rated 3A II using the Canyon Rating System. This canyon is accessible year round, but the route would not be enjoyable during the hot summer month's. This is an excellent winter and cold weather route.

          Navigation for this route is moderate. The route does traverse through some minor areas of cryptobiotic soil but they are easy to avoid with a little care. A GPS is useful. Good map reading skills and the USGS 7.5' Map titled "Moab" are essential. All waypoints and maps use the WGS84 datum. This canyon has an extremely small flash flood danger.

          In normal conditions this canyon does not require any swimming or wading. The route contains one mandatory rappel that is exactly 197-feet from anchor to ground. Make certain your rope is not short or you will be in big trouble. Additional gear should consist of several shoulder length slings, a couple double length slings, 50-feet of webbing, several rapid links, and a prusik system. This is a route where radio's are a big help because it's nearly impossible to communicate from the top of the big rappel to the bottom because of the echo's in the canyon. Normally I'm not a huge fan of gloves, but they are advised for the big rappel as I think they add a margin of safety. The anchors in this canyon are all bolted and easy to locate.

Moonflower Canyon - Moab Moonflower Canyon - Moab

Moab Rim Trailhead:
          This Moab Rim Trailhead is accessible year round to all vehicles. Locate the McDonald's at the south end of Moab on the comer of Main Street and Kane Creek Drive. Follow Kane Creek Drive west for 2.6 miles to the Moab Rim Trailhead on the east (left) side of the road.
The trailhead is easily identified by a kiosk and restroom. There is parking for a dozen vehicles. This is the trailhead for Moonflower Canyon.

Moonflower Campground Trailhead:
          If you have a shuttle vehicle you can save yourself 1/2 mile of hiking by driving west on Kane Creek Drive for an additional 0.5 miles to the Moonflower Campground located on the east (left) side of the road. The trailhead is easily identified by a restroom and split rail fence. There is parking for a dozen vehicles. This is where you leave a shuttle vehicle if one is available.

Moonflower Canyon - Moab Moonflower Canyon - Moab

Route Information:
            From the Moab Rim Trailhead (N38 33' 31", W109 34' 59"), start hiking northeast up the Moab Rim Trail. This part of the hike can be steep, hot and boring, with some good views of the Colorado River and Moab. Follow the 4x4 trail as it climbs and swings south around a huge sandstone buttress. After hiking for 2 miles you will reach a junction (N38 33' 26", W109 34' 17"), take the west (right) fork and follow the road for an additional 1/2 mile until you reach the bottom of the Moonflower drainage (N38 33' 17", W109 34' 32"). This is where you leave the road.

          Hike west down the Moonflower drainage and the sandstone walls will begin to rise. You will encounter a couple of potholes and pools that are easily bypassed. Soon you will reach a 10-foot drop into a large pool surrounded by willows. This drop can be downclimbed by the skilled or rappelled by a single bolt on the north (right) that allows you to miss the pool and keep from getting wet.

          Immediately past the 10-foot drop the bottom falls out of the earth and you are presented with a butt clinching 197-foot free hanging rappel (N38 33' 15", W109 34' 46"). Make certain your ropes are not short before you commit to this rappel. The rappel is anchored by two bolts on the north (right) canyon wall. I also recommend you do not toss your rope from the top but instead let it just slide over the edge of the cliff. The reason for this is a tree is located right at the bottom of the rappel and if you throw your ropes out over the edge they have a habit of becoming tangled in the top of the tree. If you just let your rope slide over the edge of the drop this should not be an issue.

          From the bottom of the rappel walk down the west (left) rim of the canyon until you are under the power lines. From there you can easily route find your way east to the bottom of Moonflower Canyon. There is an emerging social trail that zig-zags down the side of the cliff and deposits you in the middle of the Moonflower Campground (N38 33' 14", W109 35' 14"). The trail down requires only minor scrambling. If you encounter exposure your route-finding skills need improvement and you should look for a better way down.

          Once at the Moonflower Campground you might want to spend a minute and check out the Moonflower petroglyphs and log climb. From the Moonflower Campground, it is a 1/2 mile hike east on Kane Creek Road to where you began the day.

Moonflower Canyon - Moab Moonflower Canyon - Moab

 


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