Distance: 0.5 miles round-trip
Duration: 1–2 hours
Elevation gain: 1,000 feet
Trailhead: River right, mile 31
This tributary is also known as Shinumo Wash or Twenty-Nine Mile Canyon, although river runners usually refer to the lower portion, inaccessible from the upper wash, as Silver Grotto, named for its smooth limestone walls. It’s less than one mile before progress from the river is halted by a high pour-over, this is not an easy hike.
In fact, it’s not a really a hike at all—it is more of a scrambling, swimming, climbing, canyoneering adventure. A boat ferry might be necessary to get across the first pool, and other obstacles await.
This series of slickrock scrambles and swims through a lovely limestone narrows is for those who have some climbing and canyoneering experience. It’s also for hot afternoons when no rain threatens: The pools are cold, and the canyon is prone to flash flooding.
For hikers and backpackers, the upper canyon is accessible from the Navajo Reservation near Cedar Ridge. Unless you have technical gear and experience, you won’t be able to make it into the grotto. However, you can bypass the lower part of the wash, forking either right (to the river’s edge) or left (continuing on top of the Redwall), where you’ll have views of Vaseys Paradise, a splash of brilliant green on the opposite cliffs.
© Kathleen Bryant from Moon Grand Canyon, 5th Edition