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.
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.
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.
The nearest car campground is at Lee's Ferry
$12 per night/per site
54 developed sites
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.
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
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.