Cathedral Wash

Page Type
Arizona, United States, North America
Hiking, Scrambling
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
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Cathedral Wash
Created On: Apr 16, 2009
Last Edited On: Apr 16, 2009


Cathedral Wash drains down from the Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness, crosses a portion of the Glen Canyon NRA, and eventually enters the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park. It is downstream from Lee's Ferry a few miles and it is a very scenic and interesting canyon to explore. The canyon walls are composed of unique sandstone and limestone layers that have eroded into all sorts of fantastic shapes, holes, arches, overhangs, dryfalls, and other structures.

This is a hike that should be done in the milder months of spring and fall. Summertime can be hot and wintertime can be cold and windy. You should also avoid this and other canyon hikes if there is any rain in the forecast or even a hint of rain since flash floods are common and very dangerous.

Getting There

Cathedral Wash TH

From US 89A at Marble Canyon take the road leading north to Lee's Ferry. The road curves around the large rock formation known as Cathedral Rock and after one mile you'll see a paved pull-out with an interpretive sign about erosion and this is where you'll park. (If you get to the balanced rocks, you've gone too far, go back.)

Walk along the road north from the pullout a hundred feet or so to the wash which is signed as Cathedral Wash. You can hike up- or downstream, though downstream is the most scenic and contains the narrower part of the canyon. Going downstream you'll go through the cement culvert and then have to jump or scramble a little bit to get down off its ledge. Continue hiking downstream and you find that the canyon walls get taller and more scenic. The going is relatively easy for a while but then becomes a little harder as there are some areas where some scrambling and route-finding on ledges around pour-offs is necessary. Eventually you will end up at the Colorado River at an area known as Cathedral Rapids and then you can turn around and hike out. Total distance for hiking to the river and back would be about 3 miles.

Red Tape

Cathedral Wash Pour-off

Pets and camping are prohibited in the portion of the wash that is within Grand Canyon National Park.

Collecting specimens of any kind (fossils, plants, reptiles, flowers, rocks, etc.) is prohibited.

There is a $15 fee charged for entrance into Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. This fee will get you a pass good for 7-days. You can also buy a $80 America the Beautiful Federal Lands Recreation Pass good for entrance to all National Parks, National Forests, BLM, US Fish & Wildlife, and Bureau of Reclamation sites for one year from date of purchase. If you're disabled, you may want to get an Access Pass which are free and good for a lifetime. If you're 62 years of age or older, a Senior Pass can be purchased for $10 and they're also good for a lifetime. Click here for more info on fees and passes.


Colorado River near Lee s Ferry

The nearest car campground is at Lee's Ferry.
$12 per night/per site
54 developed sites
No hookups
Grills provided, no open fires.
Quiet time 10pm-6am
Modern bathroom/comfort station
Potable water available
Launch ramp 2 miles away
Gas and supply store at Marble Canyon, about 5 miles away.
No reservations.

External Links

The French Fries

Glen Canyon NRA

More info on the Glen Canyon Dam

More info on John Wesley Powell

The Glen Canyon Institute

National Weather Service Local Forecasts

For more info

Glen Canyon NRA
PO Box 1507
Page, Arizona 86040
(928) 608-6200

Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center, near Lees Ferry, daily mid-April - October, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; weekends only, early April and November, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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Alex Wood

Alex Wood - May 16, 2012 12:48 am - Voted 10/10

Grand Canyon National Park

Nice page. I think you should attach this to GCNP because the lower section is inside of the park.


tarol - May 16, 2012 5:30 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Grand Canyon National Park


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