Arches National Park | Friday & Saturday, February 19-20, 2021
This weekend I wanted to take it a little easier and to be home on Sunday since I’ve been out in the backcountry every weekend this year, and there were a few things I needed to get done around the house. Since I needed to stay closer to home I thought that this would be a good opportunity to finally hike through Lower Courthouse Wash in Arches National Park before the park really starts to get busy in a couple of weeks. Although I’ve hiked into Upper Courthouse Wash a couple of times before, the lower stretch of the canyon had eluded me on two occasions I tried to hike it in the past, which were both about ten years ago now! Both of those times I was turned back by deep water crossings when I was not prepared to get my feet wet, so this time I made sure I came prepared to get wet if I needed to. Instead of hiking up and down the canyon in both directions, I decided to start at the bottom near Moab and make a loop by riding my bike back on the road through the park and then on the Moab Canyon Bike Trail. I left from work on Friday evening so I could camp outside the park and get an early start on Saturday morning.
There were some nice clouds in the sky as I drove through Salt Valley on Friday evening.
I watched an amazing sunset from just outside the boundary of Arches National Park with the La Sal Mountains in the distance.
I woke up early on Saturday and finished the drive through Salt Valley in the dark. When I reached the main road in Arches, I followed it to the Courthouse Wash Trailhead and locked my bike up to the bridge over the wash. Then I left the park and headed over to the parking area near the mouth of Courthouse Wash.
Before I started hiking up the canyon I stopped to visit the pictographs at the mouth of Courthouse Wash since they were nearby and I hadn’t stopped to see them in quite some time.
A closer look at part of the Courthouse Wash Panel.
As I started hiking up the canyon I passed this shallow doorway that was blasted out of the canyon wall.
After following a well-worn hiking trail along the wash for a ways, I passed a small pool and waterfall and then was stopped by a couple of deeper water crossings. This time I was able to backtrack a bit to find ways around them without having to get wet. Although I was prepared to get wet, it was still early and cold enough out that I really didn’t want to.
Looking down on a couple of larger beaver dams as I bypassed this section on a bench above. These dams are the reason for the deeper water crossings in the canyon.
As you can see, the beavers have been hard at work in this canyon…
A nice morning in Courthouse Wash.
Soon the canyon dried up and the hiking was much easier in the sandy wash.
I spotted this large shield pictograph painted high up on the wall of an alcove.
I even came across a few small pictograph panels.
Alcove of Stripes
A small panel of red pictographs near the back of a large alcove.
I really liked this long dark stripe down the lighter-colored wall.
More side-canyon exploring…
I spotted this nice small panel of petroglyphs.
The Cutouts Panel
As I neared the end of the hike water started to appear in the canyon again.
There were more beaver dams and pools in this part of the canyon, but I was able to find a way around all of them without having to get wet, so I guess I brought along my sandals and neoprene socks for nothing!
I arrived back to the road and sat down for a short rest and then got my bike ready for the ride back.
Stopped below The Organ during my ride out of the park.
The first two miles or so were a little slow for me as the road climbed a couple hundred feet, but once I passed the upper Park Avenue Trailhead it was pretty much all downhill back to my Jeep and went pretty fast. I was back at my Jeep in about an hour and home by lunchtime. It was a nice way to spend Saturday morning while still having time to get things done at home!