Rock Garden

Utah Flats — This name has been adopted for the area between Phantom Ranch and Cheops Pyramid based on similarity to the slickrock plateaus of southern Utah.

Routes — To find the access from Bright Angel Camp pass thru the small campsite near the uppermost bridge and into the brush, and start up the slope. Following the most obvious signs of travel available, work up the slope trending rightward. Near the top of the slope the route steepens. Avoid the 10 foot climb by going to the right and up over the ridge toward the middle of the ravine. Follow the track up to the ridge between Bright Angel Creek and a short drainage into the River. One way could cross this drainage and traverse the slope below the Shinumo cliff to the Tonto south of Cheops, but this is the worst of several options.

To reach Utah Flats east of Cheops, simply continue up the slope into the drainage with your eye on the notch in the cliff at the top of the ravine. It is an easy climb up through the boulders to the expanse of bare sandstone above. This has a nickname of Piano Alley because all the boulders seem to be that size. Following the Piano Canyon drainage on top of Utah Flats will lead to a descent into the area east of Cheops Plateau. Somewhere in the rocks on Utah Flats there is hidden rainpool for a good water source after a storm.

Going to Phantom Creek, exit north across the Flats and up the slope to where the neck of the plateau joins Cheops. Most sections are trailed now, but the bare rock areas are quite ambiguous. On the northeastern ridge of Cheops there is a small knoll. From the cactus patch on the apex of the plateau you can pick up a good track leading into Phantom Canyon and descending steeply to the bed.

Just before turning down into the ravine, a faint track forks upward to the slope above the cliff. Follow this and go up the ridgeline to connect with Isis/Cheops saddle and the Quartzite terrace to Trinity Canyon .

From the north edge of the Flats it is possible to go down directly into the lower gorge, but there seems little advantage.

1982 June - First time up Cheops and into Phantom Canyon.

1989 April - Overnight under a ledge in route to upper Phantom Canyon.

1994 April - Light rain going into Phantom Creek. Water pockets in upper Piano Canyon and rim to the south on return camp.

1996 December - Overnight first and last night exploring into Trinity. Water trickle in upper Piano Canyon. Continued west through break in Quartzite cliffs going to 91 Mile Canyon. Two relaxed bucks near neck to Cheops on return.

2003 December - Solo to Phantom Creek for destinations up Haunted Canyon and north to the Cattle Trail. See the Haunted Cattle Adventure.

2004 April - Overnight stop above Piano Alley returning from GCHBA service trip to Cottonwood. Planning to try the descent east of Cheops, but just not quite up to it.

2004 November - Shortcut to Phantom Ranger Station to check-in and make a permit change for being a day late headed to Cottonwood Camp with Bob. Pick up supplies at Gene's cache on top and descend. Day 12 after leaving Swamp Point on 23 Nov and really starting to feel the wear from travel at this point.

2015 April - Travel to 94-Mile and back, mostly with Haley.


Catalog of Places - Trips - Routes - Notes