Rock Nettle Canyon is a little known canyon deep in the Grapevine Mountains which contains rock nettle plants and very impressive towering red slot narrows. Difficulties encountered on the hike include route finding to access the canyon, avoiding taking the wrong turns at junctions within the canyon, and successfully bypassing a major dry fall in order to reach the red slot narrows. A Google Earth map of the hiking route can be found by clicking on the button above. GPS coordinates for the parking area are 36° 50.549'N, 117° 14.363'W. GPS coordinates for the mouth of Rock Nettle Canyon are 36° 52.358'N, 117° 13.644'W. GPS coordinates for the turnoff into Rock Nettle Red Slot are 36° 52.791'N, 117° 13.071'W.
Rock Nettle Canyon has some of the most spectacular narrows in the Grapevine Mountains. The main canyon was first hiked and named by a well known Death Valley hiker named Kauri in December of 2011. Kauri has slowly been working her way through many of the unexplored major and smaller canyons in the Grapevines over the past few years. When you take that much time to check out as many places as possible, you are bound to come across something amazing. And that's exactly what happened when she returned to Rock Nettle Canyon in December of 2012. She ended up exploring the 2nd major side canyon on the right while hiking up canyon (actually the 3rd side canyon overall, as there is a small drainage leading to side canyons on the left side earlier on). While hiking this 2nd side canyon, she found two sections of spectacular towering red slot narrows that are unlike any other in the park. Kauri's discovery led to a lot of buzz in the park service and several hiking groups have already followed up by checking out the Rock Nettle Red Slot narrows for themselves. Our group did the same in February of 2013. Rock Nettle Canyon is located about 1 1/4 miles to the northwest of Red Wall Canyon. Thus, the parking area for the hike is just past the parking area for Red Wall Canyon and Leaning BM. Hiking up the Rock Nettle fan is a somewhat easy and enjoyable task. Starting at about 500 feet in elevation, we hiked about 1 3/4 miles to an elevation of 1,200 feet where we reached the edges of the hillsides. The canyon itself begins to take shape and a little less than a mile later, we passed by the lower drainage side canyons on the left and encountered a boulder-filled hillside with solid rock on the right. We then passed the 1st side canyon on the right and a short time later arrived at the 2nd side canyon, which we will refer to as the Rock Nettle Red Slot. Rock Nettle Red Slot starts 3 miles into the hike at an elevation of 1,900 feet. True to the canyon name, RN Red Slot had lots of rock nettle plants in the early part of the canyon. There is one major dry fall in RN Red Slot, and we were aware of that before we did our hike thanks to the detailed information on Kauri's report. There are two options for bypassing this dry fall. The first option is the long bypass that starts on the left side at the very beginning of RN Red Slot. The second option is the short bypass that starts a short distance below the major dry fall (about 1/4 of a mile up the canyon). Because there are some nice narrows from the RN Red Slot mouth to the dry fall, it is important to hike this section of the canyon. That's what our group did and then we backtracked a short distance and used the short bypass. Before we did this, we looked at a couple of other potential bypasses closer to the dry fall. But both of the options had very loose rocks and some exposure, so we scrapped those plans and stuck with Kauri's recommended route. The short bypass led us up a small gully and then around and up to the ridge above the right side of the canyon. It then crossed over and deposited us back into the canyon. Our group continued up the canyon and reached the two sections of red slot narrows which begin at about 2,350 feet in elevation. The red slot narrows are extremely impressive and quite special to walk through, as you will see in my pictures. One member of the park service even told me that he considered these narrows to be "some of the best in the park." Beyond the two sections of red slot narrows, the canyon opens up a bit and eventually becomes too steep to continue. On our way back down, we used the long bypass and found that it had some nice views of the surrounding area. And on our hike back to the vehicle, we truly appreciated the wonders we had just seen in Rock Nettle Red Slot. Our hike took place on February 13, 2013.
Many more photographs taken during our visit are available for viewing for this destination. To see all of them, choose one of the two options presented below. The two options are Slideshow viewing and Trip Report viewing. The Slideshow option allows for viewing larger images with an autoplay option and a full screen option (available on most browsers). This option works very well for large computer screens and tablets. The Trip Report option allows for viewing smaller pictures in a standard scroll-down format and enlarging of any panoramic photos taken during our visit. Click on the option of your choice to view all of our photos from this destination. The Slideshow format opens in a new browser window and the Trip Report format uses the same browser window for viewing.
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