Grand Wash Trail, Grand Wash Trailhead, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Grand Wash Trail - 5.0 miles
Grand Wash Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||5.0 miles (distance may vary slightly by route)|
|Start-End Elevation:||5,378' - 5,197' (5,378' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||181' net elevation loss (+208' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Grand Wash Trail - 5.0 Miles Round-Trip
The Grand Wash Trail runs 2.5 miles through a deep canyon with sheer cliffs and narrow slots in Capitol Reef National Park. It follows a sandy wash bottom on mild grades between the entrance to Grand Wash Canyon off Scenic Drive (west) and Highway 24 (east).
The canyon features dome-topped vertical walls and a short section of slots called The Narrows. Bighorn sheep are sometimes seen on ledges over the wash, and side canyons - particularly Bear Canyon - offer additional room to explore.
Grades trend down from west-east through the canyon, following the macro-tilt of the Waterpocket Fold. The trail is minimally marked but navigation through the canyon is very intuitive. From Grand Wash Trailhead, you'll pass the Cassidy Arch split in .2 miles and enter the Narrows section in 1.3 miles. Once through, the canyon gradually opens to the trailhead on HWY 24 at 2.5 miles.
Grand Wash was made famous by American outlaw Butch Cassidy, who reportedly had a hideout in this area (nearby Cassidy Arch is named after him).
Butch Cassidy was born Robert LeRoy Parker in 1866 to devout Mormon parents in Beaver, Utah. After several itinerant years in mining camps across the west, Parker pulled off his first bank robbery in 1889. He adopted the surname 'Cassidy' around this time from an elder small-time horse thief he admired in his youth, and as legend has it, the first name 'Butch' from a short stint in a Wyoming butcher shop.
After spending 18 months in jail for stealing horses, we was released in 1895 and reunited with members of the Wild Bunch, a loose knit group of thieves who graduated to robbing banks and trains in the 1890s. The Wild Bunch found refuge in a maze of canyons across SE Utah, an area that came to be known as the Outlaw Trail.
With pressure mounting from bounties and pursuit by the Pinkerton detectives, Cassidy fled the US sometime between 1901-1902 for South America. He reunited with his infamous partner Harry 'The Sundance Kid' Longabaugh in Argentina, where they invested in ranching operations while resuming a life of banditry.
Details of his fate remain unclear, and stories range from a deadly shootout with Bolivian authorities to a quiet return to the US where he is rumored to have lived out his final years under an assumed name.
- N38 15.829 W111 12.939 — 0.0 miles : Grand Wash Trailhead
- N38 15.932 W111 12.798 — .2 miles : Cassidy Arch Trail split
- N38 16.297 W111 12.331 — 1.0 miles : Level travel in sandy wash
- N38 16.331 W111 12.089 — 1.3 miles : Enter 'Narrows' section of canyon
- N38 16.540 W111 12.028 — 2.0 miles : Lower canyon opens
- N38 16.691 W111 11.549 — 2.5 miles : Trail ends on Highway 24
- Flash floods are a concern in Grand Wash, particularly through The Narrows. Be mindful of changing weather and exit the canyon before storms hit.
- Bighorn sheep inhabit this area.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs are not permitted on trails in Capitol Reef National Park.
- Writing on rocks is strictly prohibited. Significant fines apply.
Directions to Trailhead
The Grand Wash Trailhead is located 4.6 miles from the Visitor Center in Capitol Reef National Park. From the Visitor Center, take Scenic Drive 3.4 miles to Grand Wash Road. Turn left and follow it 1.2 miles to the cul-de-sac parking area.
Grand Wash Road is a dirt road suitable for 2WD cars in good condition. The road is subject to flash floods and washouts and may not be passable after heavy rain due to standing water or mud.
Capitol Reef National Park
16 Scenic Drive
Torrey, UT 84775