Grand Wash – Capitol Reef NP

Distance5.7 mi
Elevation Gain404 ft
My Time2 hr 1 min
DifficultyEasy
Closest TownTorrey
Food NearbyRim Rock Patio

Grand Wash

My first stop at Capitol Reef National Park was the Grand Wash trail. Actually I wasn’t even sure I was in the park at first. There is a section of Utah 24 that drives down through CR and that led me right to a small pull off for Grand Wash. There is a different parking area that I will talk about in a later post as well.

When I pulled up there was another gentleman pulling up at the same time. His name was Joseph and he had looked up this hike and said that it should be y good. We hiked together and talked about hiking difference between Colorado and Northern Utah. It was a very nice time. But I digress…

The Hike

The Grand Wash hike was one of my favorite hikes on the trip and I found it by accident. The trail is mostly flat and takes you down a dried riverbed at the base of a canyon. The trail itself isn’t that hard to deal with. The biggest issues come from the occasional boulders on the ground.

A picture of the flat section at the beginning of the Grand Wash Hike.  The trail is like a rocky road with large canyon walls on either side.

The hike has a little elevation gain but it is spread out over a few miles so nothing that really needs to be worried about. From this parking area on the side of 24 the trail takes you to the parking lot that is inside the park as an out and back for a total of about five and half miles. Now to the good stuff.

The Canyon

The canyon that you walk through on the Grand Wash trail is nothing short of spectacular. every few hundred yards it seems to reveal more and more of itself. The walls are probably about 700 feet tall and are littered with some amazing rock formations. For reference of the size, those are two full sized human adults at the bottom of the canyon. I was behind them about 100 yards when I took the below picture.

The canyon floor is about 10 feet wide. Ahead of me you can see two people who look like small ants compared to the giant canyon walls at Grand Wash.

Coming through the canyon in the evening was nice because the sun was hitting different sections of the canyon at a different angles. it really made for some amazing views.

There are also several turns on the trail that give different angles. With Grand Wash being an out and back, the views flip and you get to see the rest of the canyon on the way back. This actually makes it look like a completely different canyon. It was like two canyons for the price of one!

A pock marked canyon wall that has small holes and caverns throughout it at Grand Wash.  The moon also makes an appearance above the cliff.

Cassady Arch

Cassady Arch is another great hike at Capitol Reef and the trailhead is located about halfway down the Grand Wash trail. I did a separate post on Cassady Arch and started at the parking lot if you are interested in that.

A section of the trail at Grand Wash that has rock walls on either side with a giant rock wall in the distance.

Finishing Grand Wash

When you make the parking lot it is a good time to turn around and head back to the beginning. The trail is very wide so there are no issues with turning around. One warning is that this area is still prone to flash flooding. On the road to the second parking lot is a sign warning people not to enter if there is rain in the area. I didn’t see the same sign on the 24 side so I wanted to mention it. I also wanted to add another section so I could add another picture!

A section of the Grand Wash trail that snakes its way down the canyon floor.  It is about to turn around a bend with tall rock walls surrounding all sides.

Elevation and Distance

If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 5.7 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 440 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 5,428feet. I was also moving for a total of 2 hours and 1 minute. This map recording has some odd spikes in elevation but I can assure you I did not have a 95% elevation grade!

Effort

Not too much to this hike. The flat riverbed led to a mostly flat hike that stretched through the canyon. There were a couple area’s with some brief elevation gains but nothing that is too strenuous. Overall a really pleasant walk through a canyon bottom.

Terrain

Being a dried up riverbed the terrain is pretty rocky. There are a lot of smaller rocks and sandy area’s and then some larger rocks that you will have to navigate over. The terrain is all easy pretty easy to handle. The hardest part for me was trying to keep my eyes on the ground with all the great visuals overhead. I would suggest a pair of hiking shoes that can handle walking on rocks.

Access

The Grand Wash has a small turnout on Utah State Route 24. Technically this area is within Capitol Reef National Park and I believe it was in a pay area section. There is room for about 8 cars on the side of the road and there are no restroom facilities. Capitol Reef is part of the National Park system and there is a $20 fee per private car. Annual and lifetime passes are accepted at the park.

Wrapping up Grand Wash

Grand Wash is another amazing hike that I happened upon by seeing a sign on the side of the road. The hike isn’t overly challenging and most people should be able to enjoy the walk along the canyon floor. The towering canyon walls take on a life of their own as the light of the day dances across their faces.

The cliffs and rock formations are all so unique and mesmerizing. I think the hardest part for me was looking at the ground and not staring up the entire time in awe of what nature created with a bit of water. If you get a chance to hike this trail I would strongly suggest it!

I have added this hike and all of my hikes to the interactive map page you can find here. If you have any suggestions for hikes or comments feel free to email me at fatmanlittletrails@gmail.com. You can follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!

1 thought on “Grand Wash – Capitol Reef NP”

  1. Pingback: Cassidy Arch - Capitol Reef NP - Fat Man Little Trail

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