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Jackass Canyon - Marble Canyon

Summary: A half day hike through a nice canyon down to the Colorado River. This route is frequently used by fishermen looking for easy river access. Note: Jackass Canyon lies on Navajo land and technically requires a hiking permit which may be obtained at the visitor/ranger station in Cameron at the junction of highways 89 and 64 (though I suspect few people actually get one). Call (520) 679-2303 for more info.
Directions: From Flagstaff drive north on Highway 89.  Turn left on Highway 89A towards Jacob Lake and drive a few miles and park just past mile post 532 where you see a moderate drainage on the left hand (west) side of the road. 
Road Conditions: Passenger Car - paved all the way
Navigation: Easy
Length: 5.5 miles
Date Hiked: November, 2001
Weather Conditions: Nice
Required Skills:
Hike Description: From 89A walk into the shallow drainage to the west - it's easiest to bypass the first barbed wire fence at the cement bridge, the second can be ducked under. The canyon deepens fairly quickly and it's easy walking. Soon you'll pass a drainage entering from the right (facing down canyon), then further down there is a junction with a large canyon entering from the right (with many foot prints - I suspect this is the major entry point for the Navajos) and a smaller canyon on the left (see below *). About 45 minutes after the start of your hike you will arrive at a drop off of ~40 feet. There were several fixed ropes in place at this point for use as a hand line  when the author was there (and according to other accounts I've read, ropes are reported to always be present). You could also try to climb down (the author climbed down and back up without using the ropes), however, this could be tricky if the rock were wet. Below the drop off is a nice, if short, stretch of narrows and you will begin to hear the faint roar of the Colorado below you. Lower in the canyon you will encounter a number of boulders which require some scrambling to negotiate, but nothing difficult. If you are concerned about getting lost in a high walled canyon with two directions (down and up), do not fear - someone has helpfully spray painted fluorescent yellow arrows pointing the way. After about an hour and twenty minutes you'll reach a sign telling you that you are now entering Grand Canyon National Park (permits required for overnight camping, firearms prohibited), and just beyond is the Colorado River. The canyon you see coming in directly opposite is Badger Canyon. Return the way you came.

(*) Heading up this side canyon in ten minutes you will come to a dry fall and several small pools. There was a fixed rope held in place by a bolt and hanger just before the dry fall on the left (facing up canyon), when the author was there. This wall can also be climbed with out the aid of the rope (which is what the author did). Just above the dry fall is a short, but nice, stretch of narrows worth checking out. 

Rating (1-5 stars):
The author and his wife completed this hike (spending 1/2 and hour exploring the small side canyon) in 3 1/2 hours. 
Maps: none used
Books:  Canyon Hiking Guide to the Colorado Plateau - Michael Kelsey
Canyoneering Arizona - Tyler Williams
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
Jackass Canyon Narrows. View in the side canyon
described above.
The Colorado River.