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Nine Mile Canyon - What to See and Do

What signs are present:

A Backcountry Byway Kiosk greets you at the southern entrance to the Canyon (Highway 6), and there are several Byway signs to keep you on the correct track.  The major side canyons and route up Gate Canyon are posted, and one information sign exists on the Canyon road.

What road conditions are:

After the paved 12 miles from Highway 6 (past the Soldier Creek Mine) and the paved 7.5 miles from the north (to the public land boundary), the Byway is a narrow dirt road with several blind corners.  When dry, the route can be dusty; during and after floods, several normally-dry wash crossings in the Canyon can flash flood.  There may be numerous mud puddles in the road during and after rain.  In very wet conditions, the route is slippery and not recommended for travel.  During winter, the road is sometimes snow-packed, but the main route is kept open for local traffic.  In dry conditions, with careful driving, most passenger and small recreation vehicles can be driven through the Canyon.

What the weather might be like:

Summers are generally sunny with the possibility of thunderstorms.  Winters are also generally sunny but very cold and the roads can be snow-packed.  Spring and fall are pleasant times to visit, weather-wise.  It is best to avoid touring during hunting season if you are seeking solitude.

Where to find rock art and cultural sites:

Nine Mile Canyon has the greatest concentration of rock art sites in the U.S.A. but some people can't find them. It is best to acquire a guide to the Canyon to help you find sites; after you know where to look, you may find sites in similar places in-between those described in the guides.  Many of the historic buildings in the Canyon are interpreted in these guides, too.

How to visit Native American sites:

Leave Native American rock art, ruins, and artifacts untouched for the future.  The oil from a single handprint can chemically affect rock art.  Climbing on ruin walls can destroy, in a moment, a structure that has survived for a thousand years.  Removing or even moving artifacts destroys the scientific value of sites.  Chalking or wetting rock art is prohibited.  Report vandalism to the BLM.

Where horses, mountain bikes, ATVs and hiking are permitted:

All horseriding, biking and OHV activity is restricted to existing roads.  The most popular routes are North Franks Canyon (a dry wash), Nine Mile, Dry, Cottonwood, Prickly Pear and Harmon Canyons.  Due to the presence of sensitive species, we request that Harmon Canyon is not visited during the raptor nesting period from February 1 to July 15.  Permission from private landowners is necessary for access to private land.  Leave gates open or closed, as you find them.  All Utah State OHV laws and rules are applicable and enforced.

About dogs:

Dogs are allowed in the Canyon but must be kept under control at all times and must not disturb wildlife.  Please remove your pet's waste near rock art and historic sites.

Where to hunt and fish:

Hunting, with the necessary licenses, is permitted on public land during hunting season but not within developed recreational sites.  Hunting on private land requires the permission of the private landowner.  The proposed Nine Mile Canyon National Historic District (BLM land and private land willingly included by the landowner) is a "no shooting zone".  The discharge of firearms for non-hunting purposes in the proposed National Historic District and in any developed recreational site is prohibited.  The proposed Historic District includes most of the corridor where cultural sites are plentiful.

There is no fishing in Nine Mile Creek.  The Creek supports a non-game fishery, with species such as red shiner and speckled dace.

What wildlife is present:

Wildlife is plentiful and varied.  Mule deer and elk are commonly seen during the winter and spring in the sagebrush and pinion-juniper habitats along Nine Mile and Wells Draw; they move to mountain browse and forested habitats above Nine Mile Canyon during the summer.  Pronghorn antelope occupy the salt desert shrub community.  Cottontail rabbits occur throughout the area, while snowshoe hare are found in forested habitats.  Coyote, fox, badger, yellow-bellied marmot, beaver, ravens, black-billed magpies, pinion jays, and side-blotched lizards are present.

Chukar partridge are the most abundant upland game bird in the area, frequenting rocky or cliff-talus habitats.  Sage, blue and ruffed grouse occur in riparian, sagebrush, mountain browse and forested habitats.  Ringnecked pheasant may also occur in the agricultural areas.  Waterfowl include mallard, cinnamon and green-winged teal, and Canada geese.

Nesting raptors include golden eagle, prairie falcon, redtail hawk, American kestrel and Cooper's hawk.  Neotropical migrants are abundant in riparian areas.

Peregrine falcon and spotted bat are special status species present in the Canyon, as is bald eagle in the winter.

Watch animals quietly from a distance and do not camp near isolated waters or riparian areas.  Camping near these areas could keep wildlife from drinking. 

Where to find help in the event of a medical emergency or vehicle breakdown:

Visitors must take responsibility for themselves in this remote Byway. There are no public telephones and private landowners should only be disturbed in extreme emergencies. However, the owners of the Nine Mile Ranch have offered to render assistance. Messages may be relayed by flagging down BLM and County officials, mineral personnel or other visitors. Search and rescue actions are the responsibility of the Carbon and Duchesne Sheriff's Departments.