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Ephedra’s Grotto - December Staff Pick by Elise

Being from Minnesota, I have to say that I am still, after over a year of living here in Moab, blown away by the beauty of this area and also by how many recreational activities they are.

One of my favorite activities has been canyoneering, and a great place to begin is Ephedra's Grotto.  There are actually two separate repels, the first one of 90 feet gets you down to the entrance of the Grotto, and the second one of 120 feet is near an amazing land bridge.  If you are nervous about repelling for the first time, nature is going to give you a little break here, because until you are actually harnessed in and ready to repel, you cannot see in advance what you are about to go down when you do the first repel due to the approach.  Also, at the bottom of the first repel there is a fairly shallow pool of water (maybe 12 inches or so) that you will eventually have to step into, so as you are looking down it is not quite as intimidating as it might be if you saw nothing but rock or sand at the bottom.

After a short hike you will get to the land bridge and your second repel.  It's at this point you really appreciate the value of going in blind on the first repel, because even though your confidence may be up after your successful first repel, it takes your breath away when on the second repel you can clearly see ahead of time what you are about to do by standing to the side and looking down!  Also, 120 feet seems like a lot farther than 90 feet was. For the really brave, the land bridge is wide enough to walk out onto prior to your repel.

When you reach the bottom of the second repel, there will be a fairly easy, 2.5 mile hike out through Negro Bill Canyon.  I have hiked in many areas of the country, and I can tell you that the smell hiking through this canyon is just amazing and invigorating.  The juniper berries and other things give off a wonderful, fresh, minty smell.  A great reward for your hard work!

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