No Thoroughfare Canyon |

Colorado National Monument

Hiking No Thoroughfare Canyon - Colorado National Monument Hiking No Thoroughfare Canyon

Colorado National Monument

Overview

RATING: Easy / Moderate Hike

Sat

Sunny, with a high near 74. East northeast wind 10 to 15 mph.

74 | 52

Sun

Sunny, with a high near 73. South wind 10 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 35 mph.

73 | 48

Mon

A slight chance of rain showers between noon and 3pm, then a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 60. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

60 | 47

Tue

Sunny, with a high near 68.

68 | 43

Wed

Mostly sunny, with a high near 67.

67 | 46

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SEASON: Any, hot in the summer
GEAR: Standard Hiking Gear
WATER: A small stream, but you can generally keep your feet dry.

Sat

Sunny, with a high near 74. East northeast wind 10 to 15 mph.

74 | 52

Sun

Sunny, with a high near 73. South wind 10 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 35 mph.

73 | 48

Mon

A slight chance of rain showers between noon and 3pm, then a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 60. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

60 | 47

Tue

Sunny, with a high near 68.

68 | 43

Wed

Mostly sunny, with a high near 67.

67 | 46

View Full Weather Details
The small falls at the first pool

The small falls at the first pool

No Thoroughfare Canyon, combined with Devil's Kitchen, was our families favorite afternoon in Colorado National Monument. Lower No Thoroughfare Canyon, described here, is a lovely, easy, and scenic hike along a small stream. The canyon, in a black schist and migmatitic pegmatite rock, is in striking contrast to the reds and whites seen elsewhere in the monument. The water makes this reasonable on fairly warm days. Most hike at least to a large pool at the bottom of a small falls. Motivated hikers can continue just a bit further to a rather dramatic waterfall.

This canyon is home to numerous big horn sheep. Almost everyone we spoke to had seen them somewhere in the canyon. I saw a lone one just above the first pool. Keep an eye out, though, they can be easily missed if you're not looking for them.

Note: No Thoroughfare Canyon has a trail that enters its upper reaches from the Little Park Road. Some enter at the top, then hike down through the full canyon to end at the Devil's Kitchen Trailhead. A group of backpackers I spoke to said above the first waterfall the going is quite rough with no trail between the first waterfall and near the top where the official trail comes down from the Little Park Road. This description is for the easier, well-traveled lower section.
Ruby giving some thought to the crossing.

Ruby giving some thought to the crossing.

Getting There

From the east side entrance to Colorado National Monument, drive 0.2 miles past the entrance fee station. The trailhead is on the left side of the road. There is somewhat limited parking. If full, there is overflow parking at the Devil's Kitchen Picnic area that is just across the road from the trailhead, where a paved road goes a short distance to a picnic area. There is a restroom at the picnic area.

A big horn sheep in No Thoroughfare Canyon

A big horn sheep in No Thoroughfare Canyon

Route

From the trailhead, follow the trail south. In just a couple of minutes is the junction with Echo Canyon/Old Gordon Trail, leaving on the left. Go right at this junction.

About a quarter of a mile from the trailhead is the second junction. Go right at this junction. Left goes to Devil's Kitchen.

The well-defined trail follows along the west side of the stream for just a few minutes before coming to the first crossing. Under most circumstances, it is easy to hop rocks and keep your feet dry during all the crossings.

From the first cross, several trails branch out and head east. Don't take them! Instead, stay along the stream from here on out, hiking either right next to, or only a stone's throw away from the stream on social trails and crossing as needed to stay on the easiest path.

The canyon soon begins to narrow a bit and becomes lined with dark volcanic rock. The many large cottonwoods and boulders beckon to laze in their shade by the water and take in the scenery.

From the trailhead, it is about 1.1 miles (40-60 minutes at a very leisurely pace) to the first pool. The pool, tucked next to a cliff with a small falls, is sublime and an excellent spot for a break.

To continue to the first waterfall, follow the trail as it climbs the hill on the west (right) side of the pool. The good trail climbs the hill, then descends back to the stream bottom.

The section between the pool and the waterfall is a bit rougher than below with more boulder hopping, but always a reasonable way can be found. It is about 0.75 miles from the pool to the falls one way.

Return the same way.


Maps

Second Falls / 3.90 miles / Elevation Range 4,989 - 5,317 ft.
First Falls/Pool / 2.19 miles / Elevation Range 4,989 - 5,105 ft.
Trailhead

12S 705077mE 4322979mN

N39° 01' 55" W108° 37' 51"

Jct - Right

12S 705194mE 4322798mN

N39° 01' 49" W108° 37' 46"

Jct - Right

12S 705096mE 4322619mN

N39° 01' 43" W108° 37' 50"

Falls and Pool

12S 704223mE 4322018mN

N39° 01' 24" W108° 38' 27"

First Waterfall

12S 703487mE 4321332mN

N39° 01' 03" W108° 38' 59"

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