(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay

In the land of canyons and arches, Moab is rich with beautiful hikes and fun canyons to explore. Canyoneering, or the act of rappelling down a canyon, is like hiking+. You can enjoy a beautiful hike, plus you have a neat opportunity to rappel and scramble around some really cool rock formations that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to access. A close-to-home canyoneering adventure that you can participate in is the Medieval Chamber. 

What is it? 

(Photo Credit: Google Maps) 

The Medieval Chamber is a short hike with two lovely rappels through some breathtaking canyons. The hike begins inside the Sand Flats recreation area, and passes through the Grandstaff Canyon, ending at the Grandstaff Canyon Trailhead. The trail pictured above shows several alternative options for hiking, but the main route follows the leftmost trail all the way down. 

Trailhead: 38.584651, -109.495133

Total Distance: 3 Miles 

Number of Rappels: 2

Difficulty: Easy 

Total Time: 2-4 Hours 

What you’ll need

(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay

In order to do this hike and rappel you will need the following gear.  

  • Climbing Harness
  • Rappel Device
  • 70 Meter Rope 
  • Personal anchor system
  • Locking Carabiners 
  • Helmet 
  • Sturdy Hiking Shoes
  • Backpack
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Personal Items 

At Moab Gear Trader we can help equip you with all of these items, both new and used. Stop by the shop on your way through Moab and let us help you get prepared for this canyoneering adventure. 

Getting There 

In order to complete this canyon, you will either need to arrange for someone to drop you off and pick you up at the trailheads, or you will need to shuttle a few vehicles. To shuttle the first vehicle you have to drive to the Grandstaff Canyon Trailhead and drop off a car at the parking lot. In order to start the trail, you will have to drive into the Sand Flats Recreation Area, there is currently a $5 fee for entry. 

Starting Location: 38.584651, -109.495133

Pickup/Ending Location: 38.609811, -109.533646

Hiking Through the Wash 

(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay

Once you’ve dropped off your car at the trailhead and begun your hike, you’ll start down an obvious trail that extends from the parking lot, and then take an obvious left fork. The trail leads you into a wash, which you can follow and take through several small scrambling obstacles. You will need to be wearing comfortable and sturdy footwear, as the trail has a few obstacles. This trail is highly trafficked, so follow the footprints and you should be able to stay on track.

Please do your best to stay on trail as the Biological Soil Crusts are very delicate, and a simple step off-trail can kill decades of growth. Don’t know what Biological Soil Crusts are? Check out the USGS field guide for more information. 

After about 1 mile you should come to a small watery obstacle. Scramble down and carefully wade through the water, it’s not deep but still tread carefully. The water runnels can be very slippery. Depending on the year, there might be more or less water in this particular obstacle. It’s just one more reason to have good footwear! 

(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay

Medieval Chamber Rapel 

(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay

Shortly after the small watery obstacle is the first of the two rappels on this hike: The Medieval Chamber rappel. There are two sets of rappel anchors, pictured above is the left set of anchors. The Medieval Chamber rappel is a beautiful 100-foot rappel into a narrow slot canyon. Enjoy the “Medieval Chamber” as you lower down into this beautiful and somewhat cave-like rock formation. There can be water at the base of this rappel, so be careful when disembarking, you might get a bit wet! 

After the Medieval Chamber rappel, there is a narrow slot canyon which then opens up beautifully. This is a great spot to stop and enjoy a snack and some water before you head onwards to Morning Glory Arch. You may see a few other hikers gathering here, so stop a while and enjoy the nice view! From this section of the canyon, you can see the top of Morning Glory Arch, and you have a breathtaking view of Grandstaff Canyon. 

Morning Glory Arch Rappel 

(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay

The Morning Glory Arch rappel is a 110-foot rappel through the space between the cliff wall and the side of Morning Glory Arch. Until recently, you had to rappel off a small tree on one side of the canyon, but in the spring of 2021 one of the local guiding companies (thank you!) added bolts and it is now more easily rappelled through them. 

The Morning Glory Arch is easily the most breathtaking part of this hike. This free-hanging rappel passes you through the arch and into a bowl-shaped canyon below where you can see a waterfall, a small stream, and the glory of the full arch itself. 

Hiking Out

(Photo by John Buie

The hike out is a mostly flat 2-mile hike through the beautiful Grandstaff Canyon. As a hiker, you can enjoy the babbling brook, the sheer red cliff walls–and if you keep your eyes peeled–you might even see some petroglyphs! 

Hike back out to the Grandstaff Canyon Trailhead and load up into your shuttled vehicle. The last task will be to swing by the Sand Flats recreation area and pick up your second vehicle! The kiosk gives you a day pass which will allow you back in to grab your car, meaning you, fortunately, won’t have to pay twice. 

Moab Gear Trader 

We provide the best gear, at the best price, for the best adventures. If you’re looking to buy–or sell–used gear, we’ve got you covered. Just come on by and ask some of our friendly staff for help picking out the gear you need to hike and rappel through the Medieval Chamber and Morning Glory arch. 

We look forward to seeing you soon!