Hiking the Tabernacle
The spectacular Tabernacle hike is only done at cooler times of the year and occasionally in the early morning or late evening during the hotter months. To do this hike, the overall hiking ability of the group must be strong, as it has a steep elevation gain of 2,200 feet in approximately 2.3 miles to the summit of Tabernacle Butte. (Note: click on images for a larger view)
The hike starts at Rattlesnake camp (Mile 74.1) and most often occurs on Day 4 or 5 of a non-motorized trip. Right from camp the trail heads up a narrow fin of Dox sandstone. This airy ridge has dangerous drop offs into drainages on both sides, and great care must be taken when traversing the steps and trail on this section. So pay close attention here!
After the Dox ridge, the route continues across red Dox slopes, your legs will probably be burning at this point! Next, you climb through a steep break in the Tapeats sandstone cliff, where you may even find a tiny bit of shade. Eventually, the route traverses around the base of the Tabernacle butte, spiraling around to top out on the far side of the butte. This relatively level traverse feels like a rest and once around to the back side of the butte, you have the top insight!
Reaching the Summit of the Tabernacle
Once on the summit, you enjoy a mind blowing 360 degree view of the canyon. The eastern Grand Canyon, including Furnace Flats and the Palisades of the Desert, are particularly unmatched. Make sure you bring your camera. Binoculars are also great up here. Take some time to enjoy your accomplishment and check out where you started 2200 feet below.
There is essentially no shade on this hike. This makes it extra challenging if it is more than an 80 degree day. If you have the opportunity to do this hike you won’t regret the effort! For the best chance of doing this hike go on a spring or fall trip, or one of our specialty hiker discovery trips.
NOTE ABOUT THE TABERNACLE HIKE:
You may not have an opportunity to hike to the Tabernacle on your trip. However, every trip offers a plethora of hikes to choose from. Your guides pick hikes for your trip based on a number of factors such as weather conditions, overall group abilities and interests, other trips in the vicinity and time available. You could do a trip every year for many years and still do several new hikes on every trip.
by Sharon Hester
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