Rock Garden

Tapeats Canyon — This is the famous site of the river (Thunder River) that flows into a creek. Upstream from Thunder river is a narrows that is passable with some wading, but don't try it if the flow is really high. Just above the narrows is a good campsite across from the Tapeats Creek branch. Above here, the name of the main channel changes to Saddle Creek and there may be just a trickle of water in the bed.

The geology is complex and dramatic. Shinumo Quartzite cliffs, perhaps the hardest formation in Grand Canyon, dominate in the area of Thunder River and form the narrows upstream. Other Supergroup formations thrust up closer to the river.

Designated camping areas are located just downstream from Thunder River (Cove Camp) and the beach at the river. Downstream is mostly an easy walk (about an hour) to the river if the water is low enough to cross to the east side. Streamside erosion and a low cliff require clambering up and down in a couple of spots. There is a large ruin site at the apex of a hill in the lower section. Cross again to the west to follow the ramp up to a very steep and very well-built trail down to the beach. Above this descent there is an option to continue along a good level track on a bench above the cliff. This track gives out with a very steep descent into Bonito Creek — this is a good alternate track for the dayhike loop to Deer Creek, but probably not the preferred choice with a big pack.

An alternate route has been mapped staying on the west bank, which goes very high in two places, and another spot with a narrow crumbly slope above the creek. This alternate must be used whenever Tapeats Creek is at a high stage from the combined flow of Thunder Spring and Tapeats Cave.

See notes on the Circumambulation of Powell trip for additional route details and observations.

Trails — Thunder River Trail.

Routes — Tapeats Creek can be followed up to the source at Tapeats Cave, and further upstream into Crazy Jug. Above Stina, the name changes to Saddle Canyon and continues to Powell Saddle, but this route is really practical for descent only. Routes go upriver above the cliff to Stone Creek and downriver along the bank and then above the Granite Gorge to Deer Creek.

1990 October - Start of trip around Powell with George S. and cohort: day 2 and 3. Exciting (much too exciting) flash flood at Stina!! Circumambulation of Powell.

2000 September - Camp 2 nights at upper Tapeats with Alessio from Italy. Dayhike excursion to Stone Creek. Next day, downriver to Deer Creek.

2005 April - Early spring hike from Monument Pt. Camp 2 nights at upper Tapeats site with a dayhike loop to Deer Creek. Exit east around Bridgers Knoll and up old Dutton Trail route near Crazy Jug Pt (Crazy Jug Route).

2008 October - Descend Crazy Jug from Big Saddle, and downstream to Tapeats Cave and then Thunder River and out.


Catalog of Places - Trips - Routes - Notes