Vermillion Cliffs--Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
BLM
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Calf Creek Falls Cedar Mesa Ruin Cleveland Lloyd Gallery Simpson Springs Pony Express Station Cedar Mesa
Monticello Field Office
BLM>Utah>Monticello>Recreation>Activities>Hiking & Backpacking
Print Page

Home

Activities

Places

Permits

Outfitters & Guides

Minimum Impact Practices


Hiking & Backpacking


Cedar Mesa

Grand Gulch

Dark Canyon

Butler Wash/Comb Ridge




Cedar Mesa

Arch Canyon

Arch Canyon is a twelve mile long box canyon located north of highway 95. If you are traveling west on highway 95 from Blanding, turn north on the Comb Wash road (a dirt road approximately one mile west of Comb Ridge, 14 miles west of the highway 95 and 191 intersection). The mouth of Arch canyon is 2 1/2 miles up that road where you will see Arch Canyon Ruins. The canyon has beautiful redrock walls, and it is possible to see several arches. The creek that runs along the bottom of the canyon normally has water (all water should be treated prior to drinking). Look along the canyon walls for hanging gardens. As you look for hanging gardens, you are also likely to spot cliff dwellings. Please remember to treat these special places with respect. This trail has no fee.

Fish and Owl Canyons

The road access to the trailhead is one mile south of Kane Gulch Ranger Station on Route 261. Turn east and drive approximately five miles on a dirt road to a drill hole which is the parking area. This road is passable to passenger vehicles during good weather. If it rains or snows, this road can become impassable even to 4WD vehicles. There is a kiosk and restrooms at the trailhead. For more information read the Fish and Owl Canyon brochure. There is a day hike fee of $2.00/person/day or $5.00/person for seven consecutive days. An overnight permit may be obtained from the Kane Gulch Ranger Station. An annual day hike pass is also available for $20 from the Monticello Office or the Kane Gulch Ranger Station.

Lime Creek

Lime Creek has two popular access points:

1. From the Kane Gulch Ranger Station, drive 9 miles south on State Route 261 to the Cigarette Springs Road. Turn left (east) and drive 3.4 miles to the Lime Creek Road (unmarked). Turn right and travel south 1.2 miles to a fork. Turn right and travel 3 miles to the head of Lime Creek canyon. This route requires vehicles with four-wheel drive and high clearance. From the head of the canyon, an unmarked route descends into Lime Creek.

2. From the Kane Gulch Ranger Station, drive 13 miles south on Sate Route 261 to Milepost 16. Turn left (east) on an unmarked road approximately 10 yards before the milepost sign. Travel 1.4 miles to a fork, then left 0.5 mile to the head of the canyon. Locate the unmarked trail mentioned above and descend into the canyon. This road requires high-clearance vehicles.

Note: There is a day hike fee of $2.00/person/day or $5.00/person for seven consecutive days. An overnight permit may be obtained from the Kane Gulch Ranger Station. An annual day hike pass is also available for $20 from the Monticello Office or the Kane Gulch Ranger Station.

Mule Canyon

The south and north forks of Mule Canyon are accessed from highway 95. Look for the graded county road (SJ 263) on the north side of the highway, approximately 19 miles west of Blanding, Utah. Because of the orientation of this canyon one finds slickrock walls mixed with ponderosa pines. There is a day hike fee of $2.00/person/day or $5.00/person for seven consecutive days. An overnight permit may be obtained from the Kane Gulch Ranger Station. An annual day hike pass is also available for $20 from the Monticello Office or the Kane Gulch Ranger Station.

Road Canyon

Road Canyon has two popular access points:

1. From the Kane Gulch Ranger Station drive 9 miles south on State Route 261 to the Cigarette Springs Road. Turn left (east) and drive 3.5 miles. At this point there is an unmarked pullout on the left. A route starts from the northewast corner of the parking area and runs 0.5 mile through the pinyon and juniper forest to the canyon rim and drops approximately 100 feet to the canyon floor.

2. Drive 6.1 miles from the junction of State Route 261 and the Cigarette Springs Road. Take an unmarked spur road to the left 9north) and travel 0.8 mile to the end of the road on the canyon rim (high-clearance vehicles only). From the parking area, enter the first drainage to the east and make your way down the main canyon.

Note: There is a day hike fee of $2.00/person/day or $5.00/person for seven consecutive days. An overnight permit may be obtained from the Kane Gulch Ranger Station. An annual day hike pass is also available for $20 from the Monticello Office or the Kane Gulch Ranger Station.

Slickhorn Canyon

Hiking in this canyon is rugged. The creek channel is frequently clogged with boulders, and there are may pour-offs and steep talus to be negotiated, challenging even the most experience hiker. Note that pets and stock animals are not allowed in Slickhorn Canyon or its tributaries.

At least four days should be allowed to hike the entire length of the canyon and explore the side canyons. The going is slow. Flash floods can occur at any time. Be aware of weather conditions, especially up-canyon from you.

For the following access points drive 9.4 miles south of the Kane Gulch Ranger Station on State Route 261 then turn right (west) on County Road 203 directly across from the Cigarette Springs Road. In 2.5 miles, you will reach a major junction; stay left, heading south.

1. One access point is 4.3 miles south of the major junction. The road dips down into a wash where you will see two old cattle watering troughs. There are pullouts on both sides of the road for parking.

2. A second access point is 1.2 miles beyond the access point mentioned above. The road passes over a cattle guard, and enters an area where the trees have been chained off. A corral will be visible at the head of a small draw. Park by the corral and follow the draw west into a side canyon.


Grand Gulch

Kane Gulch

From the Kane Gulch Ranger Station (located on highway 261) you can hike down Kane Gulch and into Grand Gulch. It is 4 miles to the junction of Kane and Grand Gulch and the trail drops approximately 600 feet in elevation. At this intersection, you can view a cliff dwelling called Junction Ruin. If you decide to continue, in the next mile you can see Turkey Pen Ruin and Stimper Arch. From Kane Gulch Ranger Station to Stimper Arch is 10 miles round trip. That's about a full day hike for most people, especially because you'll want to take time to explore the cultural sites and take some pictures. There is a day hike fee of $2.00/person/day or $5.00/person for seven consecutive days. An overnight permit may be obtained from the Kane Gulch Ranger Station. An annual day hike pass is also available for $20 from the Monticello Office or the Kane Gulch Ranger Station.

Bullet Canyon to Grand Gulch

To access the canyon drive 7 miles south of the Kane Gulch Ranger Station on State Highway 261 and turn right. This dirt road (County Road 251) takes you 1.5 miles to the trailhead. The trail is moderately difficult.

Collins Canyon to Grand Gulch

Drive north from the Kane Gulch Ranger Station on State Route 261 for approximately 4 miles to U.S. Highway 95. Turn left, driving about 9 miles to State Route 276 and turn left again. Near Milepost 85 there is a sign indicating the Collins Canyon Road (County Road 260) to the left (south). This dirt road travels 6.5 miles to the trailhead; there is one fork, stay right. The road ends at the trailhead. It is 2 miles to the junction with Grand Gulch and the trail is easy.

Government Trail to Grand Gulch

Drive 10 miles south of the Kane Gulch Ranger Station on State Route 261. Just before Milepost 19, across from the Cigarette Springs Road turn right on a dirt road (County Road 203/245). Travel 2.4 miles, then turn right at the fork (County Road 245); continue 3.1 miles to the sign at the turnoff and go right (at this point high clearance is required). The trailhead is 1.5 miles from the sign. It is 3.1 miles to the junction with Grand Gulch and the hike is easy to moderately difficult.

Kane Gulch to Grand Gulch

Park at the Kane Gulch Ranger Station. The trail begins next to the trailhead kiosk at the west end of the parking lot and continues across the street. It is 4 miles to the junction with Grand Gulch and the hike is easy to moderately difficult.

Todie Canyon to Grand Gulch

Note: Todie Canyon is a suggested entry access for day hikes only. It is not recommended for novice hikers.

Drive south of the Kane Gulch Ranger Station on State Route 261 for approximately 3.9 miles (just before Milepost 25). Turn right (west) on a dirt road (County Road 236A) which takes you 1.2 miles to the trailhead. This road often requires four-wheel drive after rains. It is 2.5 miles to the junction with Grand Gulch. This is a difficult trail not recommended for novice or young hikers.


Dark Canyon

Sundance Trail

The Sundance Trail is the main access into the lower part of Dark Canyon. Upper parts of the canyon can be reached from trailheads on the Manti-LaSal National Forest.

The Sundance Trail is best hiked in the spring or fall. Its trailhead can be reached from Utah State Highway 95 (U-95) by a series of dirt roads. Although it is generally passable by car, these roads may at times require a vehicle with up to six inches of clearance. Roads may be muddy/impassable during and after rain. There are two ways of accessing the trailhead:

1. From the turnoff to Natural Bridges National Monument, travel west on U-95 for approximately 35 miles to the sign marking the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area boundary. Drive about 1.4 miles further on U-95 and turn right onto the first dirt road after the White Canyon bridge (just before milepost 53 on U-95). After you turn, you will see the San Juan County (SJC) road 2731 signpost. Travel five miles on 2731 to a Y-intersection with SJC 2081. Turn right on 2081.

2. If coming from Lake Powell on U-95, travel about a mile east from the Hite Marina turnoff. Turn left onto a dirt road directly across from milepost 49. This road is marked SJC 2081. Travel about four miles to a Y-intersection with SJC 2731. Stay on 2081. This is where the two routes meet, so from either direction, after about 3.4 miles from this intersection, there will be a Y-intersection where you do not turn, but the road becomes SJC 256. Stay on 256 for about 3.5 miles until you see a wooden BLM sign for the Sundance Trailhead. Continue to the trailhead parking lot.

From the trailhead parking, walk the two track to the edge of the canyon. From here, the trail descends to a 50% talus slope and 1,120 vertical feet into Dark Canyon. Once in the bottom, hikes up and down canyon are popular.

Fable Valley

Fable Valley is a tributary to a canyon which drains into the Colorado River north of Dark Canyon. It is part of the BLM’s Dark Canyon Primitive Area. The valley is approximately eight miles long and can be reached by one of two trailheads. The southern trailhead from Dark Canyon Plateau is more easily accessible; the northern trailhead from Beef Basin is very hard to reach. Fable Valley does not get extensive back country use. It has been historically used by cattle; currently livestock do not graze here on a regular basis. Fable Valley is higher and cooler than most other areas of the Monticello Field Office, but is still a desert environment.


Butler Wash/Comb Ridge

Butler Wash Ruins

This hike is accessed directly off U.S. Highway 95. It is signed and the parking area is on the north side of the highway. The parking area is paved and pit toilet facilities are available. The hiking trail winds its way across some small washes and over slickrock before reaching an overlook of a cliff dwelling, 0.5 mile across the canyon. Interpretive signing is located at the overlook. Walk south of the overlook to view a natural bridge up the canyon. Round trip hiking distance is one mile, and travel time is approximately 1/2 hour. It is an easy to moderate hike. Please recycle interpretive brochures at the trailhead.