Upper Harris Wash: Zebra, Tunnel and Good Cow Canyons


A fairly easy day was called for, so we chose to check out Upper Harris Wash, with the famous Zebra and Tunnel slots, as shown in Kelsey's Colorado Plateau book. This area can also be accessed from the Old Sheffield Road down Bighorn Canyon, as shown in Allen's Escalante book. Studying the map, we spied a likely looking wash headed directly from the road to the correct place in Harris wash, so we took it. A convenient parking place next to a fence and cattleguard was in the right place, so...

Larry Halford at the “trailhead”. Adventures in the Escalante often start at fairly non-descript, and more often un-marked, places like this.

The approach canyon starts out wash-like and cowed-up, but sharpens and becomes a bit more interesting. Here’s some nice bluffs about halfway to Harris Wash.

Nice weather, eh? It takes about an hour to get to Harris Wash, all of which is in the full sun. This access route would be broiling hot in the summer.

And we arrive at Harris Wash. The terrain requires careful reading of the map to find the goodies. We headed upcanyon in pursuit of the picturesque Zebra Canyon.

Entering the mouth of Zebra Canyon. Many of the more interesting canyons don’t look like a whole lot from their mouths

Zebra has a few very, very cold pools that block access to "the goodies". It took us a while to psyche up, but eventually we waded into the chill and through into the slot itself. Our early arrival proved advantageous, as good light was to be had with the sun low in the sky giving no direct light.

The cool part of Zebra, a couple hundred yards of really cool slot. A couple deep potholes block exit from the top of the canyon. (Rumor has it, these can be rappelled using natural anchors, but it is not, like, real exciting, man).

Tramping back to main Harris wash, then downstream, we sought Tunnel Slot. Again, the mouth of the canyon gave little clue to the beauties held within.

And then it closes down, way down, to a dark tunnel. Again with the freezing cold water. This day was proving a trial - hot, sandy tramping alternating with frigid wading. Tunnel is short, and requires a few steps in water up to shoulder-deep. After a few cool-down forays, we braved the chill and waded all the way through.

Behind Tunnel Slot is quite a nice slickrock area. With good map reading skills, it is possible to venture cross-country to the top of Zebra Slot.

Plenty of Moki Marbles can be found in this part of the Escalante-Dominguez.

Given these two interesting slots, we decided to check out the next canyon downstream. It looked pretty interesting on the map, but it proved to be a dud. Not very interesting. As in dull, dull, dull.

I'm not a big fan of cows in these canyons. Don't take this the wrong way, but this is the way I like em. The Queen of the Desert. There are better places to fatten up cows, and there are better "uses" of these canyons, than letting cows eat everything green.

Heading back out. This made a great, casual, scenic day. A nice stroll in early spring or late fall.