First Moab Trip, Part III: Rock of Ages (aka: Pool Arch Canyon)

Two nights of camping and no showers later, we had one more adventure before heading home. Following a day through U-turn and Negro Bill Canyon, we decided to tackle on a longer canyoneering outing – Rock of Ages (also known as Pool Arch)!

Rock of Ages is down Kane Creek Drive. You’ll find a lot off the street for Kane Creek campground about 4.5 miles down the road from Main Street in Moab, Utah. Park at the lot outside of the fence (remember to pay the small fee, around $3 I want to say) and walk through the grounds along the 4X4 path (Pritchett Canyon Jeep Trail).

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Approximately a half mile in, you’ll see a deep narrow canyon on your left (east). Hike up the drainage and just keep heading up!

The canyon will widen as you get further up, but you’ll pretty much follow the path until you see the arch. For more detailed instructions, please see the Climb-Utah site.

You’ll climb and scramble up for a little while. Most of it is fairly manageable with little to some experience. We maybe came upon 2-3 tricky spots but I contribute this mostly to being short and not having as much reach and length!

As you approach the top, just keep going! Or look for footprints, as we did… I remember the path being fairly straight forward.

Keep an eye out above you. There are two noticeable arches that you will pass by with the first at about mid-journey to Pool Arch.

There’s another one a just a little further down.

These arches may be seen more easily as you look back on your journey. Take a few glances back after hiking up a section. The views are gorgeous.

It gets a little tricky when you get over the top of Pool Arch. There are three options: rappel off the side where you anchor into a tree, stunt rappel off Pool Arch or double back a bit and down-climb.

Since our rope was not long enough, we had to down-climb… Except, we got a tad lost and just kept walking on past the arch.

Just a little confused…

We walked back to the row of ridges.

Although we found out, we could’ve just down-climbed from where we mistakenly had walked to… it was good exercise, right!?

At the bottom of Pool Arch, we stopped to eat lunch. It was the perfect place for lunch – shady, right underneath the natural wonder and even near a (okay, it was… dirty) pool of water.

After lunch, we bushwhacked a bit to the other side of the ridge. Walk along the path until you see a small pool to your right (or could-be pool if the water has dried up).

There is a couple of sections where you can trail over the top of the pools.

You may also need to dredge through a couple of small pool sections where the walls may be too far apart to arch across. Test to see how far the water has come up, but we only encountered it to be about 3.5 feet at its deepest.

After the narrow pools, you’ll follow the path to a wall with two anchors.

Setup and rappel! Then keep going…

The last rappel is a tad tricky. There are two ledges. Two bolts can be found on the first ledge.

If your rope is long enough, feel free to use this anchor and rappel all the way down. I believe you’ll need at least a 70m rope. Hop down to the second ledge to assure that your rope has fully dropped to the bottom, for safety…

If your rope is not long enough, like ours, you’ll want to shimmy to the second ledge and stay anchored in while you set up the next leg of the rappel. Luckily, we had one short rope and one longer 200 foot (60m?) rope so Zac could (more) safely anchor in for the long rappel.

The anchor for the long rappel sits off the edge of the second ledge. CAREFUL! It hands on the wall but there is no ledge that reaches out to it for you to comfortably feel safe while setting up without protection. Hence, why we had two ropes set up – the blue and the green.

The rappel down is fairly easy. You’ll be against the wall for about half the way down then it’s just a free hang, baby! This free hang made the entire adventure. It. Was. Pure. Awesomeness.

After you are down, the path out is obvious. Just head straight out until you meet the 4X4 trail again and follow the trail until you are back at your car!

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