Capitol Reef National Park

Headquarters Canyon

A hike into Headquarters Canyon is an easy stroll, giving able people access to a short sheer-walled "slot canyon." This hike is suitable for families with small children. You will pass through or observe a number of the rock formations of the Capitol Reef: first the Entrada Sandstone, then the Carmel formation, the Navajo Sandstone, the Kayneta Sandstone, and finally the Wingate Sandstone.

From the trailhead parking area, cross the road and follow the trail along to the south side (left) of the fence line. Soon, you will come to a shallow wash that is marked with rock cairns. Follow the wash north, then west into the Fold. After turning west, it will not be long before you enter the sheer walls of Navajo Sandstone, guarded by a short, narrow "slot canyon" less than 4 feet wide. Once past this slot, the canyon continues a short distance then soon ends at a Kayenta slickrock slab. You can scramble up the slab until reaching a dry-fall. Prepared and experienced hikers could continue up the canyon for a short distance, but most will turn back at this point. Return via the same route.

Trailhead: Approximately 3 miles south of the Burr Trail/Notom road junction. The trailhead is located next to a fenceline at the Post and is marked with a sign.

Distance: 2 miles round-trip. 1 1/2-2 hours.

Note: Portions of the route are marked with rock cairns to help guide hikers in areas that might be confusing. There are no dependable sources of water along this route, though precipitation can temporarily fill waterpockets. Take plenty of water with you; don't count on finding water along the route. Occasional heavy rains can cause flash flooding in the bottom of Headquarters canyon—keep an eye on the weather.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 24 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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