Hiking Courthouse Wash

Courthouse Wash

Arches National Park
Hiking

          Looking for a nice hike not on the typical tourist menu in Arches National Park? Courthouse Wash might be your ticket. The hike is lovely and free of the usual National Park crowds. The route is easy to follow, requires several hours time, and follows a cheerful stream.

General Information:
Click Here for Map           Courthouse Wash is a wonderful desert hike that will require 3 to 4 hours. The route is 5 1/2 miles. Elevation loss on this hike is virtually nil at 150-feet. The route consists of easy hiking along a sandy wash. Some minor ankle to knee deep wading might be required depending on conditions. Courthouse Wash requires you carry a least enough water for half-a-day in the desert. This route is rated 1B II using the Canyon Rating System.

          This route should be easy for any moderately experienced hiker. Navigation for this route should be effortless. There is no trail but the route follows a large wash for its entire distance. Mistakes in navigation are easy to overcome and correct on this route. A GPS is useful in identifying waypoints and verifying your location. Good map reading skills and the USGS 7.5' Maps titled "Moab" and "The Windows Section" are helpful. All waypoints and maps for this route use the WGS84 datum.

Courthouse Wash Facts:
          Courthouse Wash was named after the Courthouse Towers which are located about 1 mile southwest of the Courthouse Wash Trailhead.

Your fashionable tour guide. Hiking down Courthouse Wash.

Trailhead Information:
          The downside to this hike is that it requires a vehicle shuttle. All roads and parking areas for this route are paved. There are no restrooms at the trailheads. The trailheads are accessible to all vehicles in all conditions. A bicycle could be used for the shuttle, in which case I might suggest hiking the route in reverse of what is described.

Lower Trailhead:
         
From Moab head north out of town on U.S. Highway 191. Cross the bridge over the Colorado River. After crossing the bridge continue north for 0.3 miles to the signed "Parking" on the north (right) side of the highway. This is the Lower Trailhead. Drop your shuttle vehicle here and continue driving north on Highway 191 for 1.7 miles to Arches National Park.

Courthouse Wash Trailhead:
          From Arches National Park Visitor Center drive into the park for 4.4 miles to the bridge over Courthouse Wash. Park at the large, paved, pull-out on the north (left) side of the road, just east of the bridge. This is the Courthouse Wash Trailhead. The trailhead easily accommodates several vehicles.

Courthouse Wash Watch for Quick Sand!

Route Information:
         
From the Courthouse Wash Trailhead (N38 38' 58", W109 35' 54"), walk over to the bridge and find your way into the bottom of Courthouse Wash. Nothing tricky about this hike from here to the finish. Hike downstream and enjoy the ride.

          Along the route you might enjoy exploring up several of the side canyons. My favorite side canyon is the first on your left (north) as you hike downstream. Small areas of quicksand are also common along this route. Nothing to serious, just a nice mud hole for the kids to play in.

          The sand can become tiring to hike in after a while and many will discover hiking in the water is more pleasant. After several hours you will reach the Lower Trailhead (N38 36' 25", W109 34' 59").

          Just as you reach the Lower Trailhead you will find a nice panel of rock art located between Courthouse Wash and the Colorado River. To see the rock art you must walk uphill to the base of the cliffs overlooking Highway 191. The base of the cliff has a large pictograph and petroglyph panel. The panel is approximately 19-feet high by 52-feet long. At one time this was an amazing panel guarding the entrance to Moab, but the site was heavily vandalized in 1980.

One several tributaries of Courthouse Wash. The gang hikingCourthouse Wash.

Caution:
          Sections of this route pass near gardens of poison ivy. The poison ivy problem is extremely minor on this route and easy to avoid if you know what it looks like. Poison ivy has three leaves and is frequently found near water. Poison ivy leaves are green in the summer and red in the fall. Educate yourself before attempting this route.


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