Soap Creek is a thoroughly delightful canyon, located in Marble Canyon, Arizona. This short and engaging canyon has it all – a fantastic approach (straight off a parking lot), gorgeous views, interesting and beautiful rappels and a challenging scramble back to the car.

This canyon requires a short shuttle, with the entry in a large parking lot next to Cliff Dwellers Lodge off Highway 89A. The drainage starts immediately next to the parking lot, with a few minutes’ walk under a bridge that crosses the highway. Beta is available here: Soap Creek Canyon – ropewiki. No permits are required.

When we did this canyon in mid-March, there was water flowing all throughout the wash, which made for a very fun day. When we started out that morning, it was cold and windy, so we were very much interested in not getting wet if possible, but we still brought our wetsuits in case water was unavoidable.

The first rappel is a short drop right where the canyon deepens. We had a small trickle of water, which had frozen some tumbleweeds right at the bottom of the rappel and turned them into giant crystal snowflakes. It was a fascinating sight. We then had a somewhat slippery entry downclimb into the canyon due to icy rocks. The water kept flowing.

After a short walk, the canyon really opens up and looks a little bit like the nearby Badger canyon with stone ledges and large rocks in the watercourse. The main watercourse appeared to ledge out, so we started looking for a second rappel. Fortunately, Sandy had done this canyon a number of years ago and remembered that the official rappel described in the beta goes into a deep pool. We walked down canyon a few more feet and found a rabbit hole that would keep us dry.

This rabbit hole rappel was absolutely stunning. After hanging our packs, we wedged ourselves into the small opening between two rocks and were transported into a large cave. To the right, we could see the deep pool we avoided. The pool overflowed into a curved waterfall chute and poured into a depression right next to where we came down. The cave opened up to reveal grand views and a gently flowing waterfall we would have to descend. There was a sketchy deadman anchor at the top which we removed and replaced.

The weather had warmed up considerably by this time, so we changed into our neoprene underlayers and socks to go down the waterfall. Others opted for t-shirts and rolled up pants. There was a large pool at the bottom that turned out to be avoidable by climbing onto a ledge and traversing around.

The lower part of the canyon is open with huge boulders the size of cars strewn about. We scrambled our way to the last rappel, a pretty amphitheater of sandstone that we descended. There is a large pool of water at the bottom, but fortunately we landed right on the edge and were able to avoid it. All in all, we pretty much stayed dry except for being in the flowing water on the third rappel.

This was a great time to change back into our hiking clothes. About a half mile down canyon, we found the confluence with the South Fork and proceeded to take the South Fork back to the car. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the South Fork was more challenging than I anticipated! This fork of Soap Creek is very open with huge boulders that make for some challenging up climbs. Fortunately, we had the very tall Jim Cezo who was able to assist the vertically challenged up some of these ridiculous monoliths!

We climbed and scrambled the 3.5 miles back to the car through awe inspiring scenery, enjoying the warm afternoon and great company. I think our day was extra special because we got to see Soap Creek with flowing water. What a treat!

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