Sand Canyon contains many Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites. The popular Sand Canyon Trail is 6.5 miles (one-way) from Sand Canyon Pueblo down to the lower trailhead in McElmo Canyon.
The trail is open to hiking, horseback riding, and mountain bicycling, but the upper section is steep and rugged-- not recommended for bicycles. Part of the single-track dirt trail crosses slick rock marked with rock cairns. A vehicle shuttle is a good idea if you are going to hike the entire trail: leave one vehicle at Sand Canyon Pueblo, and leave a second vehicle at the bottom (south) end of the trail in McElmo Canyon.
To reach the McElmo Canyon trailhead, head south of Cortez on Highway 491. Turn right (west) on County Road G at the signs for the airport and/or Hovenweep National Monument. Go 12 miles on this paved road. Trailhead parking is an unimproved slickrock surface on the north (right) side of the road. No water, toilet, phone, or other services are available.
Near the McElmo Canyon trailhead, you can visit Castle Rock Pueblo surrounding the base of the large butte just beyond the parking area. Hike one or two miles up canyon to view several small cliff dwellings. This area is not wheelchair accessible.