“An extremely steep scramble down an aptly named draw.”
— Eric Ashley
- Wilderness permits are required to enter this route. They can be obtained from the North Rim Ranger Station.
- Campfires are not permitted.
- Poison ivy is prevalent here. Wear long pants!
Features: Fall Colors — River/Creek — Views
Dogs: No Dogs
S.O.B Draw is the recommend introductory hike to the North Rim inner-canyon routes. The unmaintained trail (really a choose-your-adventure scramble down into oblivion) is known for lots of poison ivy and a daunting descent on aggressive terrain. It's important to stress that this is a serious route and should only be attempted by experienced hikers who are prepared to find their way over huge boulders, shifting rocks, surprisingly steep grades, and several 10-foot ledges.
The hiking party that chooses to tackle this demanding descent will surely earn bragging rights and an outstanding experience. At the bottom, there are six primitive campsites to allow for an extended stay. Just remember that less-is-more when it comes to stuffing gear into your overnight pack.
To begin, obtain a Wilderness Use Permit from the North Rim Ranger Station and make sure to sign out on the white-board there. The route starts off of the North Rim Campground road and heads north through scrub oak thickets to an access ladder near the drainage.
The route down isn't always clearly defined, but the general rule of thumb is to keep right and check ahead and behind to scout your options and to make the return climb easier to navigate. If you reach an area that appears just too sketchy, take a moment to look around and see if there's a better option to be found.
The scramble down provides a rough and tumble up-close perspective of the area's imposing cliffs and geology. Take the opportunity, where you can, to rest and enjoy the scenery. The view of the river and its roar will slowly get closer, until eventually, you're at the bottom of the canyon. To locate the campsites, head downstream over the dark boulders.
The jumbled boulders, rushing water, pockets of trees, and soaring canyon walls form an interesting and beautiful blend of chaos and tranquility. Add in the play of light and shadow through the canyon, and you'll be pretty thrilled you made the trek.
Some aspects of the climb out may seem easier, but make sure to keep checking your route and look for landmarks.
Flora & Fauna
The waters of the Gunnison River are especially fine for fishing. A valid Colorado fishing license is required and there are specific regulations to fishing in the area. Find out more by visiting the NPS's fishing page