Wonderland Canyon
Our Experience at Wonderland Canyon

Directions to Parking:


  • Head east on Highway 24.

  • Five miles past the Capitol Reef Visitor Center the road passes the Grand Wash trailhead. You’re more than welcome to park there or drive a short distance further to mile marker 84 (where the canyon lets out) and park along the roadside.

  • A quarter mile past mile marker 84, the next side canyon opens up and marks the entrance to the approach.

  • Approach to Canyon Entrance:


Head south into the side canyon and head up the sandy gulch on the left. It’s a climb and some of the footing is loose so be careful and avoid stepping on the cryptobiotic soil. Once you’ve reached the top you’ll notice the plateau that covers most of the horizon. The approach takes you east to the edge of the plateau. You’ll have to descend and trend southeast working your way up layer by layer until you’re following along the upper layers. If you come out on a lower level, the bend around to the north side of the plateau drops off into a deep gulch. Head north towards the point and come around the side of the plateau. The north side of the plateau is a little more graduated so getting on top of the ridge is easier on that rim.


Follow the ridge the best you can. The ridge protrudes out visibly and it shaves off a little time to walk along the bed to the left and picking up the ridge on the other side. A quarter mile past the protrusion you should be able to spot the entrance to the canyon a hundred feet below. Make your way north down the ridgeline. The descent isn’t easy but look around to your north and there’s a short downclimb. Avoid the cryptobiotic soil and descend a hundred yards to the entrance of the canyon.


Canyon to the Exit:


You can skip the first descent by walking along the left or right (I prefer the left) and downclimbing. Depending on the season, pools can start pretty early in a canyon so now would be a good time to dawn harnesses and wetsuits. The canyon starts out with some down climbs. The early pools you come across can be stemmed across with some creativity.


Rappel 1: 50’ but it’s a low angle descent but the pool at the bottom can be tricky to stem across. It widens just enough that the average person will have to stretch to bridge across the gap or simply accept the loss and drop into the pool.


Rappel 2: 50’


Rappel 3: This is the main attraction for the canyon. This 210’ rappel is actually broken up into two stages. Extend the anchor to the edge and drop 80’ feet down to the pool at the bottom of the first stage. The second stage is 130’ and ends in a bowl.


Down climb out of the bowl and approach the second largest rappel.


Rappel 4: Multistage 150’  low angle rappel. You drop through three points in the rock where there are potentially pools. Most are pretty easy to avoid though the last one represents a challenge to stem.


The canyon splits at the bottom of the rappel. Turn right into a beautiful section of the canyon. There are two down climbs that mark the start of this section. The second drop you may need a partner assist.


Keeper 1:Right before the final rappel is a keeper. Use a partner assist to hoist your partner up and then haul you up after.


Rappel 5: Incredible. It’s only a 70’ drop, first through a bowl then over the ledge to exit of the canyon. This is the sight of a waterfall when water is running through the canyon as evidenced by the debris scattered in a circle around the pit in the sand.



Quick Guide

Rating: 3A


Location: Capitol Reef


Time: 4-6 hours


Approach: 1 hours


Canyon: 2-4 hours


Difficulty: Moderate


Number of Rappels: 7


Keepers: 0


Anchors: Mixed


Gear: Standard Technical Gear


GPS Coordinates


Parking: 38.2637340, -111.2158470


Trailhead: 38.2657090, -111.2134050


Canyon Drop-in: 38.2611430, -111.2255470

Wonderland Canyon
Quick Guide
Our Experience at Wonderland Canyon