Headquarters Canyon in the Waterpocket Fold of Capitol Reef National Park offers a short, easy canyoneering adventure that the whole family can enjoy. The trail follows a sandy wash upstream to where it cuts its way down through the solid sandstone of the reef. The route is normally dry but there may be puddles after storms.
Trail Type: Hiking
Length: 2.25 miles roundtrip
The canyon is located along the Notom-Bullfrog Road, 35.5 miles south of Highway 24.
This old corral serves as a recognizable landmark and is located 2.3 miles south of the Burr Trail-Notom-Bullfrog Road Junction. The trailhead parking area is adjacent to the corral, which is on the east side of the road.
Headquarters Canyon Trailhead
The hike begins on the west side of the road, opposite the old corral. From there, hike west toward the Waterpocket Fold reef. Follow the obvious trail, which soon enters a dry wash. Rock cairns confirm you are on the right path.
After about a mile you approach the beginning of the slot canyon - a narrow crack in the wall that is so tight some visitors may wonder whether or not they are on the right track. The entrance to the Headquarters slot is narrow enough a child could reach across and touch both walls.
The slot is relatively short. Beyond it you can continue hiking up the scenic canyon until a small dryfall blocks the path. Most hikers turn around here but stubborn climbers can continue on.
You simply return the way you came in.
Another small canyoneering trail just to the north of Headquarters, Surprise Canyon is longer than Headquarters, but it is not as narrow. Surprise and Headquarters Canyons are often combined into a single trip that will take about three to five hours to complete.