–  M O G O L L O N   R I M  –

mogollon-rim

Located between the Northern Deserts of the Navajo Nation and the southern reaches of the Sonoran Desert lies a true oasis.  The Mogollon Rim of Arizona lies at a much higher elevation than the surrounding topography and marks the southern edge of the great Colorado Plateau.  Thus, the temperatures here are much milder during the summer and offer a haven for escape from the brutal heat than can often be found in Arizona.  As well, this is a four season climate and the time frame for canyoneering here is relatively short as air temperatures and snow block the Mogollon Rim off for a majority of the year.  However, when the conditions are prime and the weather is nice these sandstone slot canyons offer some world class routes that have come on the radar only in recent years.  Routes are often difficult to follow, water is persistently cold, keeper potholes are a likely reality, and anchor options can be challenging.  This is my favorite region on this entire website, and I hope that these canyons can remain respected and keep their wilderness feel which is a huge draw to them in my opinion.  They are wild and rugged, remote and off the beaten path.  This is certainly no desert; it resembles more of what you would expect in a tropical environment, a jewel of a forest bound by miles of desert.

Avocado Canyon

Avocado Canyon is a short, lesser known, and relatively dry slot canyon located on the north rim of West Clear Creek.  It is the first drainage to the west of the Tramway Trail.  In wet conditions it will have at least one pool to wade or swim through.  There are 3-5 rappels; the biggest being

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Barney Springs Canyon

This is a true epic.  Barney Springs Canyon drops quickly and roughly on its course to the West Fork of Oak Creek.  It is similar to many of the other tributaries of the West Fork but, in my opinion, is the most physical.  Both times I have done this route we have ended a very

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Bear Canyon

Previously known as Cassidy Canyon, this is a short but deep slot canyon located on the south rim of West Clear Creek.  It is a great introduction to the sport of canyoneering and features two technical drops, the first is around 25 feet and the second is a ~15 footer.  There are several other downclimbs

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Black Canyon

If you were to tell me that doing a technical canyon at 6,000 feet of elevation, in February, was a good idea, I would probably consider you insane.  If you mentioned the foot or two of snow on the approach, similar levels in the canyon, frozen pools, hanging sheets of ice, and an entire wall

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Casner Cabin Draw

Casner Cabin Draw is a short but pleasant wilderness route into the upper West Fork of Oak Creek.  Though not technically challenging, it does have some very nice sections of narrows and is a great beginner canyon or a nice way to spend the day with less experienced friends.  There are a few short drops

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Christopher Creek

This is a classic example of the diversity of terrain that can be found in Arizona.  Christopher Creek Gorge is a short but sweet section of canyon that features many waterfalls, pools, and down right fun.  Depending on how high you want to jump or downclimb, there are 0-4 rappels up to 40 feet.  This

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Elder Canyon

Elder Canyon is an interesting and pretty minor route that drops off of Mount Elden right near Flagstaff.  It probably doesn’t warrant its own description but is a pretty fun route especially given its proximity to the city of Flagstaff.  The approach is actually one of the funner parts of the entire route, as you

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Flintstone Canyon

Flintstone Canyon is a great, somewhat more remote tributary of the West Fork of Oak Creek.  The quality of narrows are similar to the other tributaries but a bit more work in my opinion.  For some reason, this canyon seems to be filled with dead, downed and rotting logs that make travel within the creek

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Horsetank Wash

Horsetank Wash, previously known and Karma Canyon, is yet another typical canyon of the Mogollon Rim.  Some great narrows, cold pools, challenging downclimbs, and scenic rappels make this a great route.  When I first made it down this canyon, it was still secret and known as Karma Canyon.  We descended it after several days of

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Illusions Canyon

—UPDATE: The Slide Fire of May 2014 will significantly affect the future access and hydrology of Illusions Canyon.  Plan accordingly— Ahhh, the one and only.  The story of Illusions Canyon is a legend in its own regard; With a first known descent in 2007, this slot canyon was immediately regarded as one of the best

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Insomnia Canyon

–UPDATE: The Slide Fire of May 2014 will significantly affect the future access and hydrology of Insomnia Canyon.  Plan accordingly– Quite the proper title here.  Rumor has it Insomnia Canyon was first descended back in the 80’s or the 90’s, and was previously known as Buckhead Canyon.  Regardless, it is unnamed on maps and is

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James Canyon

James Canyon is just outside of Flagstaff and is a common introductory canyon for good reason.  It has a great taste of all aspects of the sport at a low dosage.  Several cold, stagnant pools to wade, a few great sections of narrows, two easy rappels, and a good dose of boulder hopping.  As well,

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Little LO Spring Canyon

Formerly known as Snakepit Canyon, Little LO Canyon is a nice tributary of Sycamore Canyon and makes for a very nice wilderness loop.  The first rappel of the canyon is the biggest and is around 50 feet or so, though can be down climbed depending on water level.  This drop is also directly into a

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Meadow Canyon

By all accounts, Meadow Canyon is not the most interesting canyon on the Mogollon Rim.  It never really gets too deep or narrow or technical, yet remains pleasant nonetheless.  It does require at least three rappels.  The true glory behind completing a trip thru Meadow Canyon is not the canyon itself but instead where in

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Pumphouse Wash

Pumphouse Wash is a major tributary of Oak Creek Canyon, yet is relatively not that interesting.  It does, however, provide a nice and dry adventure going as far up as you please.  This canyon crosses below highway 89A right when you get to the bottom of the switchbacks and is marked with a sign.  Begin

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Shamrock Canyon

This is yet another short tributary of West Clear Creek.  Shamrock Canyon is probably my least favorite of any of the canyons draining into West Clear Creek but presents a nice wilderness route regardless.  As well, the narrows in the canyon are quite nice, but far too short.  To add a little spice to the

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Sunburst Canyon

Suburst Canyon is a great canyon that is a tributary of Secret Canyon.  This route is a remote, exciting adventures and does require some good navigation skills to successfully complete.  The approach is relatively straightforward, however the exit is not.  Countless groups, including ours, got turned around and had significant trouble finding the appropriate route

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Sundance Canyon

Sundance Canyon really packs a punch.  For how short and easy this route is, you really get alot of action in.  The fun to work ratio on this route is off the charts.  From the car park, it is a short 10 minute romp down the hill to the bottom of the canyon, where the

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Voodoo Canyon

If not for the exit, Voodoo Canyon would probably be a much more common occurrence; however, the price of admission on this route is high.  The entrance itself is not incredibly easy and depending on your route can be quite tedious.  The canyon itself is pure perfection, though never too narrow but still consistently exciting

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West Clear Creek

The lower route described here is a complete thru hike dropping in from the top near the Calloway Trailhead, coming out at Bull Pen Ranch.  We setup a car shuttle beforehand and is highly suggested.  We completed this hike in three days, which was much too fast in my opinion as each day was a

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Wet Beaver Creek

This is a non-technical canyon adventure.  Wet Beaver Creek is a great route that offers a haven from the summer heat that often plagues Arizona.  There are probably at least 30 nice pools to swim along the way.  This route requires a car shuttle.  Park one at the lower end at the trailhead for Bell’s

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Wilbur Canyon

Wilbur Canyon is my favorite of the tributaries of West Clear Creek.  Formerly known as Carcass Canyon, it was named after a dead elk found within the narrows that made for a very unpleasant experience yet has since washed out.  On topo maps it has been named Wilbur Canyon.  On my first thru trip down

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Winter Cabin Canyon

  Winter Cabin Canyon is named after an old cabin found on the trail down to Sycamore Canyon.  I am not going to lie, this canyon is not particularly great.  Maybe it was just our experience, or the time of the year that we did it (temperatures down in Sycamore Canyon were in the mid-90s)

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X Pine Canyon

This is a great tributary of West Clear Creek.  It is unnamed on maps but has been dubbed X Pine Canyon because it features two trees halfway thru the canyon that form an X high above the creek.  The road leading to the drop in point of X Pine Canyon is horrendous the last time

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