Rock Garden

Nankoweap Canyon — This is the first major sidecanyon as Marble Canyon begins to open up into the Grand Canyon. The area is very large with many interesting features to visit. The climb to the top of Nankoweap Butte is not difficult and offers the reward of a spectacular 360 degree view of the region. There seems to be some water in every branch; judging from the travertine cementation in the main channel, water may be present throughout the year. North of Woolsey Butte a high spring creates Mystic Falls and there are several storage ruins in a ledge of dark rock. They are in very good condition, one with a curiously braced door shelf, and some intact door stones. All are carefully constructed of color matching the surrounding rock. Kolb Arch, the largest in the Canyon, is located between Woolsey Butte and Mount Hayden.

Nankoweap Mesa is a significant dayhike expedition best made from base camp at the foot of Nankoweap (Tilted Mesa) Trail. This is nearly 2000 feet elevation with some rugged up and down and up again to get there.

There are several large beach areas by the river and it is a popular river trip stop for the 600 foot climb to the granaries. The east rim opposite the delta is the steepest drop anywhere from rim to river: 3200 feet in 2000. Rockfall along this cliff is not unusual.

Lower Little Nankoweap can be reached a short walk upriver and the limit of the canyon narrows reached in an hour's exploration.

Trails — The rugged Nankoweap Trail descends 6000 feet from rim to river. This the longest trail in time if not distance and it is a challenge to make the trip either way in a single day. A small seep-spring sometimes runs where the trail rounds Marion Point. There is little remaining of the original trail construction which was once (supposedly) suitable for horses. Parts of the trail are dangerously exposed and/or extremely steep.

Routes — The so-called "Freefall" route (GCLH-I) goes down between Marion and Seiber (see Marion/Seiber Route). A variant of the Kibbey Butte route pioneered by Harvey B. has been popularized by George S. The Horsethief Route goes south along the faultline behind the buttes along the river. It's also possible to go upriver to Saddle Canyon, or downriver along the face of the buttes toward the Little Colorado.

The track above the riverbank to Kwagunt Delta is well-established. There are three ways to cross from Nankoweap into Kwagunt Canyon: any of the three saddles on either side of Nankoweap Butte will do.

1992 October - Nankoweap Trail to river and return, visits to lower Little Nankoweap; Nankoweap Butte; falls and ruins near Woolsey Butte; Redwall climb on south wall of Marion/Seiber drainage, during 7 day trip with Danny. Warm with unstable weather (storm and quarter-inch rainfall one night). See notes on Exploration of Nankoweap Canyon.

1993 May - Success with the "Freefall" Redwall route.

1994 April - Coming from Kwagunt Creek just west of Nankoweap Butte, cross over Butte Fault accidentally and wind up cliffed-out in the Redwall; spend night at "Snake Saddle." Regain route and go up to Marion/Seiber Point for camp (meeting Don and Adair Peterson at 4000 ft spring); chased out by rattlesnake. Exit up Marion/Seiber route.

1996 October - Entry and exit by Marion/Seiber route with Danny. Second encounter with ranger Bil V. Going over the saddle east of Nankoweap Butte to Kwagunt Creek. Returning along the riverbank.

1998 May - Camp 9 of North Rim Passage with Danny at the beach below the granaries. ...Gluing Danny’s boot and hanging about with a private rafting group. Quick visit to Mystic Falls. Camp 10 in the Marion/Seiber bed; big lion print below Seiber Point. Exit Marion/Seiber.

2007 September - Camp 1 and 2 of Quest for Barbwire heading for Butte Fault. Marion/Seiber access again. Camp below Seiber Point and visit to Mystic Falls and grainery. Camp downstream-right from Tilted Mesa Trail. New route over the Saddle east of Nankoweap Butte and to Kwagunt - very direct.

2010 October - All 9 days all in Nankoweap and rain for 2.5 of that. Dayhike the Graineries, Little Nankoweap, Nankoweap Mesa, and exit Marion/Seiber with 2 overnights at the trailhead saddle.

2012 October - Kolb Arch expedition.


Catalog of Places - Trips - Routes - Notes