Canyoneering Route Description

Sad Cow Disease Canyon - 3A III
Escalante National Monument, Utah.

Quick Facts

05-26-13, 12 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 5.5 hours) Pictures Icon

Time Required - 4.5 to 6.5 hours
Distance - 9.2 miles Total, 0.4 miles Technical
Rappels - 2 Rappels, Longest Rappel 100 feet.  Longest rap actually less but will need this much rope.
Elevation Range - 5300 - 5550 Feet
Shuttle Required - No Vehicle - Passenger, if bad road conditions High Clearance Permit Required - No

Gear Used for Canyon

Rappelling and anchor gear, Ropes and or pull cords for rappels up to 100 feet and 40 feet of 1 inch webbing for sling placement.  Wet suits generally not needed but there are some spots that can hold waist deep or a little more water.  Knee and or elbow pads are a good idea for playing in the skinny sections.

General Comments

Sad Cow Canyon or Sad Cow Disease Canyon is a short fun and really scenic canyon with a long scenic approach down Little Death hollow.  Definitely a place you should see.

Wet suits generally not needed but there are some spots that can hold waist deep or a little more water.

A short section near the end of the canyon may force you up to about 30 feet off the deck.  The slot below you will be too skinny to slide down into and the end has an easy elevator / downclimb.  Since getting down is easy and straight forward and the slot too skinny to slide down into it does not need a risk factor rating but should be noted as being there.

The anchor for rap 1 is set back about 20 feet and adds to the total rope length needed. The rap is actually shorter.

Rap 2 in this route description can use a deadman anchor but most parties do an aggressive partner assist to get past the 15 foot drop. So you may have only 1 rap depending on how you get past rap 2.

The Wolverine Loop dirt road is maintained well most of the time making it passenger car friendly.  There are a couple spots where you will need to use careful driving to get over a wash or around a rock.  The Wolverine Loop Road does cross a lot of washes and rain activity can dramatically change road conditions.  High clearance is generally not needed but can make the drive less stressful.

Driving Directions

To get to the Trailhead

From the town of Boulder Utah turn off of highway 12 onto the Burr Trail Road.  Follow the Burr Trail Road east for about 18.4 miles to an exit to a dirt road on the right (south) which is the Wolverine Loop Road (extWolverine1). 

Turn right (south) onto the Wolverine Loop Road and follow it south about 5.6 miles to the a large junction (ExHorseCyn) where the Horse Canyon road branches off to the right (west). 

From the junction of Horse Canyon Road (ExHorseCyn), stay left and continue on the Wolverine Loop road.  About 4.6 miles from the junction is a turn off (extWolverineTH) on the right (west) to a short spur road for the Wolverine Creek Trailhead.

From the Wolverine Creek Turn off (extWolverineTH) stay straight / left on the Wolverine Loop Road and drive about 2.7 miles to the turn off on right (exLilDeathHlw) for the Little Death Hollow Trailhead.  Turn right (south) and drive about 200 feet to the Little Death Hollow Trailhead (tLilDeathHlw) and park.  There is room for a quite a few cars here.

The hike in is down a drainage sometimes referred to as Little Death Hollow but on maps is usually labeled as Death Hollow. To avoid confusion it is good to be aware that this is a different drainage from the Death Hollow about 17 miles west of here near the town of Escalante.

To leave the Exit Vehicle / Escape Pod

No exit vehicle is needed.  This is done as an out and back.

Maps - - - - GPS coordinate information listed at the bottom of this route description.

For information about my waypoint naming convention and map symbols, refer to the Glossary page.

Map Link Icon
Click the links for maps of the route.
Map of the drive into the route.
Map of the entire route.
Map of the approach out of Little Death Hollow and technical section.

Details

The Approach:
From the trailhead (tLilDeathHlw) walk southwest down the huge wide open wash following trails.   About 1.5 miles into the hike another huge drainage joins in from the left (east) and just shortly past that the trail will pass by a huge house sized boulder (LilDeathHlw05) with some rock art carved at the base of it.

About 1.7 miles farther is a side drainage / canyon that joins in from the LDC (east) side (LilDeathHlw10).  Continue down stream going around a right hand bend, a left hand bend and then a second right hand bend. That second right hand bend is about 0.3 miles down stream of this side canyon and is where you will scramble up the RDC side up out of the drainage.

When you get to the second right bend you will scramble up the RDC (northwest) side up steep slickrock (jSadCow). This is also the first area on the RDC side after passing that drainage that it looks like you can scramble up out of the drainage.

About 400 feet up the sloped slickrock is a section of easy upclimbing (SadCow01). Continue northwest up the slickrock another 250 feet and drop down into the cross over a minor slickrock drainage.

About 250 feet farther up is a minor slickrock drainage the route drops down into the cross over (SadCow02). Continue northwest up the slope on the other steeper side of the drainage. About 500 feet after leaving the water course of this minor drainage you will be on the crest of a gently sloped dirt ridge.

From the crest of the ridge (SadCow03) the large deep Sad Cow Disease Canyon is down to the west about 700 feet away. To get to the head / drop in look to the right (northwest) and note a slickrock shelf / bench going around a point about 600 feet northwest. Route find your way down to the slickrock shelf by contouring around and down to it.

From where the shelf goes around the point (SadCow04) follow the mostly level slickrock north contouring around over to cross over a slickrock drainage about 400 feet away.

As you cross the drainage (SadCow05) follow the shelf west over to a where the shelf goes around another point about 500 feet west.

From the point (SadCow06) follow the shelf around a point then route find your way northwest about 250 feet down into the top of Sad Cow Disease Canyon (ySadCowTp).

The Canyoneering / Technical Section:
From the drop in point to the canyon (ySadCowTp) walk south down the wash.

A little over 100 feet down canyon is a short slot (SadCow07) with a few small potholes easily bypassed on the LDC side.  About 100 feet farther down canyon is the top of rap 1.

Rap 1 (dSadCowR1) is anchored from a tree about 20 feet back and uses about 100 feet of rope. The first half is easily downclimbable but then goes vertical and you will need the rope. At the bottom of rap 1 you are in deep feeling slot.  A little over 100 feet down canyon is rap 2.

Rap 2 (dSadCowR2) can be anchored from a deadman anchored and drops about 15 feet. This drop is more commonly done as a partner assisted downclimb. Send everyone down on a meat anchor then assist the last person down from below. This will be an aggressive partner assist if you choose to downclimb. At the bottom of rap 2 is a pool that can be waist to chest deep if full but will generally be a waist deep wade.

About 100 feet down canyon of rap 2 the slot widens out for an easy walk in a semi vegetated section a little over 100 feet long before dropping into more deep narrow slot.

 Near the entry of this slot (SadCow08) is a sloped stem / galumph style downclimb of about 50 feet. Movement on the downclimb is fairly easy due to the narrow walls and moderate slope. At the bottom of the downclimb you walk the canyon floor between narrow walls with enough debris overhead that it almost feels like you are underground. Water in this section may get about waist deep if full but generally should be well below waist deep.

Almost 250 feet into the slot is a drop of about 30 feet (SadCow09) just as the canyon starts to make a hard right turn. Then level for a short distance to another drop of about 20 feet down into a huge chamber with a narrow outlet on the other side. The chamber is a little over 100 feet into the slot after the open area and water lines in the room indicate it may be about waist deep if full.

A little over 100 feet down canyon is a huge chamber (SadCow10) with a narrow exit. After the chamber is a short walk to a couple skinny sections where you will likely need to stem / galumph up and over. The second section has a comfortable zone that puts you about 30 feet up off the deck and it would be too skinny to go low. At the end of the second skinny section is an easy stem / elevator down to the canyon floor.

After elevator it is easy walking in skinny slot for a long ways and a significant portion of it has walls that lean slightly to the right forcing you to use your hands on the walls in places to keep standing. After a few hundred feet the canyon opens up briefly.

When the canyon opens briefly (SadCow11) walk down canyon a little over 200 feet to the start of more narrow slot passing over a boulder debris pile on the way.

At the other end of the open spot (SadCow12) enter more narrow slot with light galumphing and walking in a semi deep almost V shaped slot.

About 400 feet farther the slot ends and dumps into the Little Death Hollow drainage (ySadCowBt)

The Exit:
From the end of the slot (ySadCowBt) turn left and walk east up the wash.  About 950 feet up the wash is a cross joint (LilDeathHlw14) you can go up or down (depending on direction) to get to a higher level and bypass a long bend in the wash.  Go up the slope and follow the bench about 750 feet to where you can drop down another cross joint back to the wash below (LilDeathHlw12).

About 900 feet farther up the wash is where the approach route left the wash and went up slickrock.  Continue hiking the large wash about 2 miles back to the huge side drainage coming in from the east (LilDeathHlw05).  Follow the trails up the left fork another 1.7 miles back to the trailhead (tLilDeathHlw).

GPS Waypoint Information

GPX Files Available for DOWNLOAD.
Downloadable GPX files for many of the canyons listed here are now available at the BG-Gear Store.  In addition to the waypoints, the GPX files also offer routes and tracks for the canyon.  Over time more GPX files will be added.

If you want to avoid manually adding waypoints into your GPS or mapping software, want the additional routes and tracks or simply want to support the efforts put into BluuGnome, head over to the BG-Gear Store and grab the files that interest you.

Elevations are approximate.  Waypoints with no elevation data will display NaN in place of the elevation.

For information about my waypoint naming convention and map symbols, refer to the Glossary page.

Notes for GPS information:
BEFORE
entering coordinates from this website, please ensure your system (GPS or mapping software) is set to the same datum used here.  Waypoint coordinates are listed with WGS84 datum and in Lat/Lon hddd.ddddd° format.  Entering coordinate information with inconsistent datum's can result in the waypoints being off by hundreds of feet.  It is important to keep this in mind when entering waypoints from any source.

Sad Cow Disease (1) - Drive In
  1. extWolverine1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.92427   W -111.22069        Elev: NaN Feet
    There are 2 exits for the Wolverine Loop Road off of the Burr Trail Road. This is the farthest northwest and is labeled on some maps as the Escalante Grand Staircase road 110 going south from here.
  2. ExHorseCyn          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.85064   W -111.22351        Elev: NaN Feet
    Turn off to Horse Canyon to the west on road 11120.
  3. extWolverineTH          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.80409   W -111.20641        Elev: NaN Feet
    Turn off to the Wolverine Trailhead off of the Wolverine Loop Road.
  4. exLilDeathHlw          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.78455   W -111.18047        Elev: NaN Feet
    Exit off of the Wolverine Loop Road to the Little Death Hollow Trailhead.
  5. tLilDeathHlw          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.78402   W -111.18060        Elev: 5,550 Feet
    Trailhead for Little Death Hollow. Space for quite a few cars to park. The drainage down from here is sometimes referred to as Little Death Hollow but on maps is usually labeled as Death Hollow. To avoid confusion it is good to be aware that this is a different drainage from the Death Hollow about 17 miles west of here near the town of Escalante.
Sad Cow Disease (2) - Approach
  1. tLilDeathHlw          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.78402   W -111.18060        Elev: 5,550 Feet
    Trailhead for Little Death Hollow. Space for quite a few cars to park. The drainage down from here is sometimes referred to as Little Death Hollow but on maps is usually labeled as Death Hollow. To avoid confusion it is good to be aware that this is a different drainage from the Death Hollow about 17 miles west of here near the town of Escalante.
  2. LilDeathHlw05          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.76885   W -111.19860        Elev: NaN Feet
    Trail passes by a house size boudler with some rock art carved at the base of it. This is also just a little after passing a huge side drainage on the left (east) on the hike down Little Death Hollow.
  3. LilDeathHlw10          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75529   W -111.21503        Elev: 5,350 Feet
    Side drainage / canyon joins in from the LDC (east) side. Of note the features on the RDC (west) side look like it may be possible to scramble up to the top. To get to the Sad Cow Disease Canyon approach up out of this drainage continue down stream going around a right hand bend, a left hand bend and then a second right hand bend. That second right hand bend is about 0.3 miles down stream of this side canyon and is where you will scramble up the RDC side up out of the drainage.
  4. jSadCow          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75461   W -111.21782        Elev: 5,325 Feet
    This is where you leave the Little Death Hollow drainage and scramble up the RDC (northwest) side up steep slickrock. This spot is about 0.3 miles down canyon after passing the side drainage on the LDC side and is on the apex of the second right hand bend in the canyon after passing the side drainage / canyon. This is also the first area on the RDC side after passing that drainage that it looks like you can scramble up out of the drainage.
  5. SadCow01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75537   W -111.21884        Elev: 5,437 Feet
    A section of easy upclimbing as you go up the slope. Continue northwest up the slickrock another 250 feet and drop down into the cross over a minor slickrock drainage.
  6. SadCow02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75593   W -111.21932        Elev: 5,490 Feet
    Minor slickrock drainage the route drops down into the cross over. Continue northwest up the slope on the other steeper side of the drainage. About 500 feet after leaving the water course of this minor drainage you will be on the crest of a gently sloped dirt ridge.
  7. SadCow03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75646   W -111.22080        Elev: 5,630 Feet
    On the crest of a gently sloped dirt ridge. From here the large deep Sad Cow Disease Canyon is down to the west about 700 feet away. To get to the head / drop in look to the right (northwest) and note a slickrock shelf / bench going around a point about 600 feet northwest. Route find your way down to the slickrock shelf by contouring around and down to it.
  8. SadCow04          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75778   W -111.22197        Elev: NaN Feet
    Slickrock bench going around a point. Follow the mostly level slickrock north contouring around over to cross over a slickrock drainage about 400 feet away.
  9. SadCow05          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75883   W -111.22171        Elev: NaN Feet
    Crossing over slickrock side drainage. As you cross the drainage follow the shelf west over to a where the shelf goes around another point about 500 feet west.
  10. SadCow06          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75896   W -111.22360        Elev: NaN Feet
    Follow the shelf around a point here then route find your way northwest about 250 feet down into the top of Sad Cow Disease Canyon.
  11. ySadCowTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75941   W -111.22420        Elev: 5,540 Feet
    Top of Sad Cow Disease Canyon where you drop in. Walk south down the wash.
Sad Cow Disease (3) - Canyon
  1. ySadCowTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75941   W -111.22420        Elev: 5,540 Feet
    Top of Sad Cow Disease Canyon where you drop in. Walk south down the wash.
  2. SadCow07          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75907   W -111.22437        Elev: NaN Feet
    Short slot with a few small potholes easily bypassed on the LDC side.
  3. dSadCowR1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75875   W -111.22444        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 1 - Sad Cow Disease Canyon. Anchored from a tree about 20 feet back and uses about 100 feet of rope. The first half is easily downclimbable but then goes vertical and you will need the rope. At the bottom of rap 1 you are in deep feeling slot.
  4. dSadCowR2          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75842   W -111.22422        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 2 - Sad Cow Disease Canyon. Can be anchored from a deadman anchored and drops about 15 feet. This drop is more commonly done as a partner assisted downclimb. Send everyone down on a meat anchor then assist the last person down from below. This will be an aggressive partner assist if you choose to downclimb. At the bottom of rap 2 is a pool that can be waist to chest deep if full but will generally be a waist deep wade. About 100 feet down canyon of rap 2 the slot widens out for an easy walk in a semi vegetated section a little over 100 feet long before dropping into more deep narrow slot.
  5. SadCow08          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75789   W -111.22363        Elev: NaN Feet
    Starting down into deep slot after a short open section. Near the entry of this slot is a sloped stem / galumph style downclimb of about 50 feet. Movement on the downclimb is fairly easy due to the narrow walls and moderate slope. At the bottom of the downclimb you walk the canyon floor between narrow walls with enough debris overhead that it almost feels like you are underground. Water in this section may get about waist deep if full but generaly should be well below waist deep.
  6. SadCow09          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75732   W -111.22317        Elev: NaN Feet
    Drop of about 30 feet just as the canyon starts to make a hard right turn. Then level for a short distance to another drop of about 20 feet down into a huge chamber with a narrow outlet on the other side. The chamber is a little over 100 feet into the slot after the open area and water lines in the room indicate it may be about waist deep if full.
  7. SadCow10          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75698   W -111.22335        Elev: NaN Feet
    Huge chamber with a narrow exit. After the chamber is a short walk to a couple skinny sections where you will likely need to stem / galumph up and over. The second section has a comfortable zone that puts you about 30 feet up off the deck and it would be too skinny to go low. At the end of the second skinny section is an easy stem / elevator down to the canyon floor. After elevator it is easy walking in skinny slot for a long ways and a significant portion of it has walls that lean slightly to the right forcing you to use your hands on the walls in places to keep standing. After a few hundred feet the canyon opens up briefly.
  8. SadCow11          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75557   W -111.22325        Elev: NaN Feet
    Canyon opens up briefly. Walk down canyon a little over 200 feet to the start of more narrow slot passing over a boulder debris pile on the way.
  9. SadCow12          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75501   W -111.22369        Elev: 5,310 Feet
    Enter more narrow slot with light galumphing and walking in a semi deep almost V shaped slot.
  10. ySadCowBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75412   W -111.22455        Elev: 5,285 Feet
    End of the Sad Cow Disease slot where it dumps into the Little Death Hollow draiange. To exit the area turn left and walk east up the wash.
Sad Cow Disease (4) - Exit
  1. ySadCowBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75412   W -111.22455        Elev: 5,285 Feet
    End of the Sad Cow Disease slot where it dumps into the Little Death Hollow draiange. To exit the area turn left and walk east up the wash.
  2. LilDeathHlw14          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75303   W -111.22274        Elev: 5,303 Feet
    Cross joint you can go up or down (depending on direction) to get to a higher level and bypass a long bend in the wash.
  3. LilDeathHlw12          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75383   W -111.22040        Elev: NaN Feet
    Cross joint you can go up or down (depending on direction) to get to a higher level and bypass a long bend in the wash.
  4. jSadCow          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75461   W -111.21782        Elev: 5,325 Feet
    This is where you leave the Little Death Hollow drainage and scramble up the RDC (northwest) side up steep slickrock. This spot is about 0.3 miles down canyon after passing the side drainage on the LDC side and is on the apex of the second right hand bend in the canyon after passing the side drainage / canyon. This is also the first area on the RDC side after passing that drainage that it looks like you can scramble up out of the drainage.
  5. LilDeathHlw10          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.75529   W -111.21503        Elev: 5,350 Feet
    Side drainage / canyon joins in from the LDC (east) side. Of note the features on the RDC (west) side look like it may be possible to scramble up to the top. To get to the Sad Cow Disease Canyon approach up out of this drainage continue down stream going around a right hand bend, a left hand bend and then a second right hand bend. That second right hand bend is about 0.3 miles down stream of this side canyon and is where you will scramble up the RDC side up out of the drainage.
  6. LilDeathHlw05          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.76885   W -111.19860        Elev: NaN Feet
    Trail passes by a house size boudler with some rock art carved at the base of it. This is also just a little after passing a huge side drainage on the left (east) on the hike down Little Death Hollow.
  7. tLilDeathHlw          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.78402   W -111.18060        Elev: 5,550 Feet
    Trailhead for Little Death Hollow. Space for quite a few cars to park. The drainage down from here is sometimes referred to as Little Death Hollow but on maps is usually labeled as Death Hollow. To avoid confusion it is good to be aware that this is a different drainage from the Death Hollow about 17 miles west of here near the town of Escalante.