Saturday, February 14, 2009

Canyoneering Peters Canyon Near Tortilla Flat, Arizona

With the winter I hadn't been scrambling around any canyons lately. Last night around 9 o'clock I just decided I am going down a canyon the following morning. I wanted to find a fun bouldering and scrambling canyon where I wasn't going to have to swim since the water is still freezing.

I picked Peters Canyon which is off highway 88 or Apache Trail Rd in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona. Peters Canyon is easy to get to as you park at Tortilla Flat a little restaurant and ice cream parlor next to Canyon Lake.

Right at Tortilla Flat is Tortilla Flat Creek which was flooding the road when I got there. Always an interesting way to start a canyon trip when the creek you are entering is flooded. The lack of narrows makes the canyon a low risk for flash floods. You scramble along the back for about a quarter mile and you reach the conflux with Peters Canyon.

Peters Canyon consists of a boulder maze of scrambling, bouldering, wading through no more than shin deep water, and hiking through some sand. The canyon was full of water and had a good stream going which created a fun challenge of figuring out how to get past. Many spots had the stream split into three or four separate streams with their own small waterfall. The neat thing about this canyon as is does provide a fun experience without having to get completely wet when you want to go out on an Arizona winter canyoning adventure.

Two and half hours into Peters Canyon is a 10ft waterfall which takes a little climbing to the left on some boulders to get on top of. This is pretty much the end of anything fun in the canyon. The canyon widens and flatens out past the waterfall. On top of the waterfall is a great place to take a break and have a snack. This canyon is an out and back.

The thing I really liked about this canyon as there were so many different options on how to get through the canyon that the way back was a completely new experience of the canyon for me. I found myself plenty of times in different parts of the stream where I spent more time wading on the way back. This made coming back down the same canyon more fun than I have had on any out and back canyon.

I highley recommend this canyon to anyone who wants to get out during nice winter days in Arizona. Once the heat comes though I would find a canyon where you get more wet and can cool off.
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