Photographs10 views of Egypt 3
MapTopoQuest topographic map of Egypt 3
(the drainage east of 5471T).
It's a short walk from the small parking area at the side of the approach road down a shallow gully to the sudden vertical drop off at the head of the canyon, where Egypt 3 plunges 120 feet as it enters the Navajo sandstone layer. Beneath the dryfall are a few deep pools and a short stretch of narrows; the main canyon starts a little further on, after an open area reached by walking along the rim to the left and descending a steep slope to the canyon floor. Downstream of this access point, the streambed is soon quite enclosed and begins to descend steadily - short level passages are mixed with numerous inter-connected potholes some of which require climbing and/or sliding down drops of several meters. Parts are quite dark with blackish, overhanging cliffs at either side but mostly the rocks are smooth and red, and the walls although generally angled away from vertical are consistently high and offer no escape routes.
In wet weather the potholes may have pools of up to 3 feet deep, and all of this section requires care and effort, especially if returning upstream. The greatest obstacle is one pothole that is just too deep, wide and with sheer sides that the only way past is to drop in the water (if present) then climb back out, and this may not be possible for one person. Not far beyond this problematic spot, the upper narrows end and there is an entry/exit point up a low side canyon that joins from the northeast. The only aspect spoiling the upper narrows is the amount of black shoe leather marks left by people sliding down between the potholes but perhaps these will be washed away each time the canyon floods.
Next, the canyon takes on quite a different character as it enters half a mile of straight but extremely narrow passageways, in places only 8 inches wide. Many people simply won't fit through here, certainly not with large backpacks. The walls are dark in color and have exposed layers of embedded pebbles, creating a rather eerie atmosphere, similar to parts of Brimstone Gulch
. Apart from the narrowness, this section has no obstructions - the floor is flat and sandy, or just bare rock, and there are no dryfalls.
Eventually the canyon relents and for another half mile or so is quite open and shallow, with many places to climb out. Near the end, approaching the junction with Twentyfive Mile Wash and just before the smaller Egypt 2 canyon joins from the west it deepens again, passes 3 little natural bridges, drops 10 feet into a pothole then has a much higher drop into a deep passage - ropes are needed to continue, although not far ahead the narrows end quite abruptly after a permanently flooded section that may need swimming.
From the Egypt Bench road to the natural bridges is just over 4 miles, which takes about 2 hours if hiked quickly. An alternative to returning up the canyon is to climb the ridge between it and the Egypt 4 drainage to the east, then follow this back to the road - a nice walk over sandstone mounds with far reaching views over the rocky land all around.