No Thoroughfare Canyon Trail, Devils Kitchen Trailhead, Colorado National Monument, Colorado
No Thoroughfare Canyon Trail - 6.1 miles
Devils Kitchen Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||6.1 miles (to second waterfall)|
|Start-End Elevation:||4,990' - 5,648' (5,652' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+658' net elevation gain (+804' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
No Thoroughfare Canyon Trail - 6.1 Miles Round-Trip
No Thoroughfare Canyon is accessed from the Devils Kitchen Trailhead in Colorado National Monument (East Entrance Station). This remote canyon runs approximately 8.5 miles from Rim Rock Road to Little Park Road along the Monument’s south boundary.
A maintained trail leads 2 miles in to a seasonal waterfall, where a primitive route continues another mile to a second waterfall. Strenuous x-country travel resumes up-canyon to its terminus on Little Park Road. Only experienced hikers should attempt travel past the second waterfall.
The following describes travel to the second waterfall, a popular day hike distinguished by water, lush vegetation and diverse geological features. Bighorn sheep may also be seen in the canyon:
The trail dips through open desert at the mouth of the canyon to the Devils Kitchen – No Thoroughfare Canyon Trail split (.25 miles : 4,955’). Sage and sprawling cactus beds fill this colorful expanse. The trail bends west into the lower canyon and follows a stream bed up to the Pool (1.05 miles : 5,080’).
Steep stairs climb over the pool and drop back into the wash, a narrow riparian corridor hemmed by dark Precambrian rock – a sharp contrast to crimson sandstones more typical in the Monument.
The trail rises up the narrow channel on modest, variously rugged grades to the First Waterfall (1.95 miles : 5,295’). The seasonal fall pours over a towering alcove into a large pool ringed by shady cottonwoods and leafy vegetation.
The trail – now a primitive route – continues up the right side of the waterfall on a very steep, rugged climb to a level area in the middle canyon (2.05 miles : 5,458’). Note the trail’s location here, as the exact descent point may be tricky to find on the hike back.
Enjoy great views back down canyon and out toward the Book Cliffs from this high point.
The route continues up canyon on a fairly well-defined boot track that negotiates intervals of thick, potentially head-high brush. Be patient with route finding and avoid placing your hands or feet where you can’t see them. If off course, simply follow the central wash, a verdant line of cottonwoods, willow, grasses and pools.
A progressively rugged and obfuscated path leads to the Second Waterfall (3.05 miles : 5,648’), a sunny area less likely to hold water than the first.
For those continuing on, look for cairns on the right side of the wash before arriving at the waterfall. These cairns mark a steep climb above/around the waterfall, which is typically not scalable due to pitch and wet rock. Anticipate slow travel beyond this point, and plan resources accordingly.
Interactive GPS Topo MapKey GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84
- N39 01.903 W108 37.838 — 0.0 miles : Devils Kitchen Trailhead
- N39 01.716 W108 37.839 — .25 miles : Devils Kitchen - No Thoroughfare Canyon Trail split
- N39 01.410 W108 38.454 — 1.05 miles : The Pool
- N39 01.225 W108 38.693 — 1.5 miles : Trail funnels down central wash
- N39 01.048 W108 38.974 — 1.9 miles : Waterfall #1
- N39 01.001 W108 39.015 — 2.05 miles : Steep climb over waterfall levels in upper canyon
- N39 00.870 W108 39.312 — 2.5 miles : Variously rugged and obfuscated travel up canyon
- N39 00.687 W108 39.622 — 3.05 miles : Waterfall #2
- Be mindful of a canyon fork left (south) above the first waterfall. While the route is fairly clear, it's possible to inadvertently veer into this canyon. Keep straight once above the first waterfall.
- Look for bighorn sheep in No Thoroughfare Canyon, which are drawn to its reliable water pockets. Quail, lizards and a variety of song birds are also common.
- Artifacts dating back 8,000 years have been found in No Thoroughfare Canyon, among the oldest in Colorado National Monument.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- The Saddlehorn Campground is located next to the Saddlehorn Visitor Center, four miles from the west entrance.
- $20 per site per night (in addition to the entrance fee). $10 per site per night discount for holders of Inter-agency Senior or Inter-agency Access Passes.
- There are 80 sites available on a first-come, first-served basis with a self-registration kiosk at the entrance. Sites accommodate tents and RVs, with some pull-through sites (length limit is 40').
- Each site includes a picnic table and charcoal-only grill. Wood fires are not permitted anywhere in the monument. There are no electric hookups or showers. Restrooms have flush toilets and water available during the summer.
- 7 person per site limit, 3 tents per site, and two 2 vehicles per site. Generator use is prohibited from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Backcountry Camping Regulations
- Backcountry Camping Permits are required in Colorado National Monument. Permits are free. The permit must be in your possession while traveling in the backcountry.
- Group size is limited to 7 people.
- Campers must camp 1/4 mile or more from any road or developed facility and 150' from any trail. Camping is not permitted in streambeds.
- Fires are not permitted, with the exception of gas or alcohol camp stoves.
- Pets, bicycles, motorized equipment, and devices such as radios, generators, etc., are not allowed in the backcountry.
- In any calendar year, backcountry campers are limited to 14 overnight stays, whether accrued consecutively or in any combination of separate visits. Single trips are limited to 7 nights.
- Water is not available in the backcountry, even during the spring runoff. Springs, streams, and pools may contain harmful substances like selenium or bacteria like Giardia.
Rules and Regulations
Private, non-commercial vehicle: $10
Individual (hiker, bicyclist ): $5
Fees are good for seven consecutive days. Fees apply to persons 16 years and older.
Directions to Trailhead
The Devils Kitchen Trailhead is located on Monument Drive (East Entrance Station), 3.4 miles off of South Camp Road.
Colorado National Monument
Fruita, CO 81521-0001