Old Woman Wash, San Rafael Reef


Disappointed, passed over.
Jan 17, 2012
Lately I've really enjoyed looking for rock art in the San Rafael Reef. On my past two trips there, I found some pictographs that I was previously unaware of, and I know of nobody else who has seen or heard of them as well. This past weekend, I went on another trip to the Reef and hiked up Old Woman Wash to find some rock art known to others, though I didn't have any specific location information. I used three photos (1, 2, 3) I found on Flickr to help locate three different rock art panels, and I was elated to find all three pretty easily.

I headed out with a friend on Friday afternoon, and we made a side trip up and back down North Temple Wash before heading to camp at Garvin's Chimney at the mouth of Old Woman Wash. It was around 20 degrees during the night, but it stayed around 28 degrees in my tent. We took our time getting up and preparing for the hike the next morning, waiting until we were warmed up before setting out up the canyon.

Driving through North Temple Wash

Sunset on the way to camp

Around the fire at Garvin's Chimney

My tent

Ice crystals on the inside of my tent flap in the morning


Starting the hike up Old Woman Wash

Old Woman Wash

Torrey getting a drink

Old Woman Wash

I was surprised how little we'd hiked before running into two of the rock art panels. They were easy to find, and we spent quite a bit of time scanning the cliffs for all of the faint pictographs and petroglyphs that were there. There were also some historic inscriptions there, including a Spanish writing that probably predates any permanent settlements in the area. After checking out all the rock art, we decided to hike up the canyon as far as we could. I knew we'd eventually run into a dryfall that would prevent us from going further, but we made more progress than I expected before we had to turn back.

"Paso Por Aqui" inscription

Pictographs near the Barnes Panel

J.C. Beck inscription

Barnes Panel

R.F. Drake inscription

Perhaps the "old woman" of Old Woman Wash?

Large pictographs across the canyon from the Barnes Panel

High Alcove panel

High Alcove pictographs

High Alcove pictographs

Continuing up Old Woman Wash beyond the rock art



The dryfall that stopped our progress

After turning around and descending the canyon, we took a side canyon that took us on top of the Reef so we could look for the Ekker Panel. I wasn't optimistic about finding this panel. The photo I had to go on was weak at best, but I'd done some previous research in Google Earth and found a faint trail leading to a cliff that looked likely enough. I was very surprised to arrive at that cliff to find that the coordinates I'd guesstimated were dead-on. The Ekker Panel was much more extensive than I expected--there is some really awesome stuff there. Unfortunately most of the cliff was in direct sunlight, and some figures were partially in sun and shade, so my photos aren't great. I plan to return another time to catch this panel in the morning for better lighting.

Side canyon leading out of Old Woman Wash


Ekker Panel



This figure was huge--probably at least eight feet tall







Here's a link to the full photo gallery:

And a link to my blog entry:


Jan 18, 2012
Very nice. I need to get up that wash. Do you know what's beyond the dry fall? Is there a technical section that you can come down?


Disappointed, passed over.
Jan 17, 2012
I think it's mostly an easy hike through the canyon with two short rappels. The only info I could find before doing the canyon was a short description on SummitPost from Scott P:

"...Old Woman Wash has a pretty good but fairly short slot. There are two raps, 10 feet and 15 feet..."


Aug 9, 2007
Good stuff, Udink! I so wish I could have come on this one. :(

"...Old Woman Wash has a pretty good but fairly short slot. There are two raps, 10 feet and 15 feet..."

10-15 feet? You'd think something that short could be down-climbed or hand-lined...
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