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Circle of Friends:
Wash is a fun slot canyon in the Robbers Roost area. The canyon contains an abundance of
history and artifacts from the early 1900's. The canyon was named after the illegal
whiskey still that was located in the canyon during prohibition. The signature of the
canyon is an interesting old Sheep Bridge spanning the tightest spot of the narrows.
visits two sections of slot canyon, the old whiskey still, moonshine spring and the old
Sheep Bridge from above and below. The route contains several hiking options to
accommodate different skill levels.
trailhead described allows you to drive to the beginning of the slot canyon and eliminates
several miles of slogging presented in other guidebooks.
Wash 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"
Moonshine Wash is a
canyoneering adventure. This route will require 5 to 6 hours to complete. Shorter route
options are also presented. Moonshine Wash may contain short sections of wading. A GPS is extremely useful. Good map reading skills are
essential. Navigation for this route is moderate. The route involves several miles of
cross-country navigation. Moonshine Wash is rated 2A III using the Canyon
The trailhead is accessible
in good weather to all vehicles. Those with 4x4 can drive all the way to the beginning of
the slot canyon. Those with passenger cars and high clearance vehicles will be forced to
stop when they feel the road is becoming difficult. There are several nice primitive
campsites in the area.
Moonshine Wash received its name
from a whiskey still located in the canyon. Bill Tomlinson built the still during
prohibition. The still consisted of a large concrete vat with several tubs located below a
10-foot waterfall. The moonshiner's would build a small damn above the waterfall and pipe
water down to the vats. The vat and some of the piping is still in the canyon and easy to
locate. Moonshine was often the only way settlers in the area could earn cash during the
depression years. Many of the canyons in the Robbers Roost/San Rafael Swell area contained
a still during this era.
looking up at the old Sheep Bridge from the bottom of the slot canyon has become the
signature photograph of the canyon. At one time there were several similar Sheep Bridges
over slot canyons in the Robbers Roost/San Rafael Swell area but this is the last one
remaining that I am aware of. The bridge is in frail condition and could tumble into the
slot at any time. Getting sheep to cross this bridge must have taken an ingenious
application of force. I tried desperately to get my canyoneering partner to stand in the
middle of the bridge so I could take his picture but no amount of ingeniously applied
force would get him to do it.
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