ApproachThe turnoff for the road is near Hite Utah along Highway 95. From along Highway 95 between the Dirty Devil and Colorado Rivers (Lake Powell at high water), turn north on the dirt road between mile post 46 and 47. This is the Hite Road. The road is a 4wd road, but not that rough by 4wd road standards. Using a map, drive along this road to the head of Clearwater Canyon near Willow Tanks. This is about 28 miles along the 4wd road. If you have two vehicles available, drive the second one to the head of Waterholes Canyon. The road to the head of Waterholes Canyon branches off the Hite Road just past Willow Tanks. The road branches to the right and ends at a stock pond.
Route DescriptionNote: The route description is intentionally brief. If you don’t have the skills to read a map, route-find, set up rap stations in very awkward locations with natural anchors, climb exposed 5th class pitches with no protection, and disconnect from a rappel while treading water, then this is not the trip for you!
Follow the drainage down from Willow Tanks. There are some falls to pass and is an Indian ruin on canyon left a little before the fist drop if you keep your eyes open. The first technical drop you come to is a double drop (the second one is overhanging) into a section of narrows. You can do it all in one rap from the bench to the right or left. There are several downclimbs up to 5.6 and there are five more rappels of various lengths, but none are over 100 feet except the last one. The narrows are all short. One of the rappels has a floating disconnect into a large (and cold)over your head pool. This one will always be a swimmer. Other rappels are next to flowing waterfalls.
The section of the canyon below Waterholes Canyon and the big drop is really nice with several waterfalls and huge pools of water. Eventually you will find yourself looking over a 322 feet high waterfall. This is one of the highest permanent (though sometimes it has a low flow) waterfalls on the Colorado Plateau. Find a chockstone or boulder for an anchor and enjoy the ride (and shower!) on the way down and landing next to a huge pool. Make your way down the rugged canyon to some nice campsites with good water not too far from the Colorado River (or Lake Powell in very high water). This took our group of six 10 hours, but a smaller group can move faster.
The next morning boulder-hop and walk up river (there will be a route regardless of lake levels) to the mouth of Easter Pasture Canyon. Easter Pasture Canyon is a very steep canyon with lots of boulders and
bypasses. Most falls are bypassed on the right. If you stick close to the drainage, the route will be low 5th class, but if you search around it may be possible to find a 4th (maybe even 3rd?) class route out of this extremely steep canyon. The route is very rugged. There are ruins on a ledge at the high drop in the upper end. There is also running water in the canyon below the ruins too. From the rim, follow the map
carefully and hike up the drainage and back to your car at Chaffins Camp at the head of Waterholes Canyon. You will need a map and route-finding skills for this. This is an extremely difficult route with lots of technical climbing. Go well prepared! A strenuous trip!
Essential GearA wetsuit should not be needed for the one pool unless the weather is very cool. Other than that one cold swim, the hike can be very hot. You will need two 100 meter ropes and at least one 60 and a few other short ropes. Avoid using the 100 meter rope until the last drop, because many of the drops are overhanging and rough on ropes. You wouldn't want to risk damaging the long ropes on a short drop. Many of
the rappels are free hanging.