We certainly don’t expect high water flows in the end of December, and it’s certainly the case in Lower Courthouse Wash just north of Moab, UT (this flows into the Colorado River). We had a chance to hike there 2 days ago while spending Christmas in Moab and what a beautiful hike this is! We didn’t go to far because we had the kids and it was getting late and we hadn’t planned along outing, but we will for sure come back to this wash and do the entire lower section of 5.5 miles into the main Arches National Park road, and maybe the upper section too! There wasn’t a lot of water running in the canyon right now, but there was a lot of sitting water. A hiker we passed also said there were some unavoidable waste deep pools further up, so if you do this hike, plan on getting wet. I can’t wait to do it all this spring!
The other highlight of this hike is the amazing rock art to the right of the canyon mouth. From DiscoverMoab.com:
You will see large painted ghost-like illustrations typical of the Barrier Canyon Style Archaic figures on the red-orange surface. The numerous figures include human forms, bighorn sheep, shields, scorpion-like illustrations, possible dogs, a long beaked bird and abstract elements. You can see evidence of painted multi-colored figures superimposed on other pictographs. On the desert varnish surface you will see human and animal like figures as well as abstract forms. This site is on the National Register of Historic Places because of its representation of a Barrier Canyon Style rock art panel.
It’s some of the best rock art I’ve seen in the area with both Pictographs and Petroglyphs in the same place. Here’s just a sample.
This is a really great panel and is easy to get to off of hwy 191 just north of Moab. I enhanced these photos a bit as they are fading. They were also heavily vandalized in 1980 and while the park service did a great job restoring them, they’re not as good as they once were.
How to get there:
Drive north from Moab on Highway 191 and cross the Colorado River Bridge. Go half a mile to a parking area on the right side of the road and park, then walk back across the small bridge that crosses Courthouse Wash on the graveled foot path. At the east end of the bridge, look up at the cliffs to the right of the point of the canyon wall that is facing you. look at the base of the wall where it meets the slope. Then walk uphill to the base of those cliffs and look for a park service sign at the base of the slope below the panel.