Coal Wash Rock Climbing
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|Shared By:||Andrew Gram on Apr 26, 2008|
|Admins:||Andrew Gram, Perin Blanchard, grk10vq|
DescriptionCoal Wash area is the location of several towers in the NW area of the San Rafael Swell. Some of these are Golden Gate, Joe and his Dog, Devils Monument, Sinbad Rock (Chimney Rock), Napes Needle, and the The Twin Priests. Many of the towers in this area were climbed years earlier by Frosty Weller and friends. These towers are not that easy to approach and are several miles apart. All routes in Coal Wash require 4WD to access, and many need a hardcore rig or an ATV to approach.
This is a beautiful remote area and rarely if ever will one see other climbers. All of the area aside from the wash bottoms that the roads are in are part of the Sid's Mountain Wilderness Study Area.
Camping can be a little tricky in places since the road is so narrow and almost all visitors are day use folks on ATVs. There is an excellent campsite with fire rings below Slipper Arch on North Coal Wash road and some established camps before entering the wash proper. There are other places camping is possible, but please make sure to use a fire pan and leave no trace. This is a remarkably unspoiled part of the desert.
Getting ThereThere are several entrances and roads into the area, none of which are easy.
The easiest way into Coal Wash is to start from Ferron. Head west on the road two blocks south of Gilly's gas station for a few miles to the intersection with Molen Road, which also has a sign indicating Dutch Flat desert, Turn right, and go straight on the main road past many unmarked junctions until a large parking area with a map kiosk is reached. The road is good to this point, but that is about to change. There are many campsites in this area - stop here if driving in at night and you are unfamiliar with the area. Shortly after the parking lot you must cross the wash at a place that is often mucky - this is the end of the line for 2WD cars, and you are nowhere near the climbing yet.
Option 1: Once past the crossing, look carefully on the right for a marked road that is easy to miss. This route is slightly easier than the main North Coal Wash road, but is still very steep with loose sharp rocks. I kicked one up with my jeep and sheared the valve stem off a tire - make sure your full sized spare is in good working order out here! Turn left at a map kiosk junction after a few miles and follow the very steep rocky road down into Coal Wash. This route is easier than the main North Coal Wash Road, but is still not easy and is committing since you drive down the crux on the way in. I prefer the North Coal Wash Road since there is less chance of tire damage.
Option 2: Continue straight into North Coal Wash. There is one significant obstacle that definitely requires 4WD Low, high clearance, and good tires. There are also many tight banked turns that would make driving in with a full-sized truck difficult. After a few miles the road coming down from option 1 is encountered just before a barbed wire fence and gate - it is very easy to inadvertently go that way on the return if you aren't paying attention.
After a few more miles the junction with the South Coal Wash road is reached. That road goes south to I-70, but i haven't driven it and don't know the road conditions. It is rated as More Difficult so it could be a good possibility.
A few miles later the junction with the Devils Racetrack is reached. The Devils Racetrack is a famous ATV/dirt bike trail, and is much more difficult than the North Coal Wash Road. The road is passable here for a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon from the North Coal Wash Road to at least as far as the Twin Priests. I stopped at an obstacle there that made me nervous without a winch or another vehicle around, but the road continues south to I-70. I have heard that there is a narrow gate near I-70 that blocks full sized vehicles but allows ATVs but I haven't confirmed this. The south entrance to the Devils Racetrack is reached from exit 131 - drive west on the south side of the highway for about 6 miles and cross to the north side at an underpass. This is the general area that Worth the View Spire is in.
For Joe and His Dog and Devils Monument, continue on the North Coal Wash road past the Devils Racetrack. There is a marvelous campsite at Slipper Arch - one of the finest campsites anywhere in the desert. A few miles further and you reach Fix It Pass, which leads to Cane Wash and then the Buckhorn Wash. I haven't driven Fix It Pass yet, but have heard that it is difficult and may not be passable for full sized vehicles.
Desert Rock 2 describes getting to Devils Monument via Saddle Horse Canyon, but this route has been closed to vehicles and is no longer an option without a very long hike.
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