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Hiking and Canyoneering


North Caineville Mesa Trail
Hiker at OverlookThe North Caineville Mesa Trail ascends over 1300 feet from the side of UT Highway 24 to the top of the mesa. The trail runs along the spines of the Mancos badlands up into the Ferron sandstone cap of the mesa itself. The trail is marked by cairns and begins at the old cement mixer – a local fixture. The hike takes about 1 to 1.5 hours each way and is a strenuous 2 miles long.

To get there, drive east along Highway 24 from Capitol Reef National Park about 12 miles. Look for the cement mixer on the north side of the road. Park there and walk up the badland ridge behind it. 

Canyoneering Areas

Capitol Reef/Notom Road Area
Most of the scenic canyons are on the east side of the Waterpocket Fold, which is accessible from the Notom-Bullfrog road. From Burro Wash to the Halls Creek Narrows, 44 miles south, there are dozens of narrow canyons. Their tributaries cut through the tilted strata and huge sandstone domes of the reef. These narrow canyons with flooded passages and dryfalls are worth exploring because of their spectacular geology and their peaceful, remote location.  Never park in the wash bottoms or enter the canyons during inclement weather. These canyons are prone to flash flooding.

Burro Wash
Burro Wash is one of the hidden canyons that emerge from the east side of the Waterpocket Fold in Capitol Reef National Park. The wash is challenging to explore because of its dark passages, narrow sections, frequent pools, dryfalls and chokestones. The massive Navajo sandstone rocks of Capitol Reef are visible from open sections of the wash. The wash is accessible from Notom-Bullfrog road, 9 miles south of its junction with UT 24, and is identified by a signpost. A paved parking area is provided along the side of the road.

Cottonwood Wash
Cottonwood Wash is one of several slot canyons running through the huge white Navajo sandstone peaks that make up the highest parts of Capitol Reef. Like many of the washes in the area, Cottonwood Wash is relatively short but very deep in places. The wash includes narrow passages, dryfalls and pools. Most visitors chose to explore the lower end, which is easily accessible from the paved Notom-Bullfrog Road.

The wash is the second of three narrow canyons with a marked trailhead along the paved section of the Notom-Bullfrog Road. The trail is 8 miles south of the UT 24 junction. Camping and parking area available under a cottonwood tree on the west side of the road.

Five Mile Wash
Five Mile Wash is one of seven canyons that drain the east side of the Waterpocket Fold into Capitol Reef National Park. From the edge of the reef, Five Mile Wash deepens and narrows steadily into a deep pool and dryfalls which stop easy access up the canyon. High above, at rim level, spectacular views of the surrounding domed summits, the eastern plateau of the Henry mountains and the pools and narrow sections of the canyon can be seen. The wash is located 11 miles south of UT 24 along the Notom-Bullfrog road.  Parking is available along the west side of the road.

Four more nearby canyons, including Capitol Gorge, Pleasant Creek, Sheets Gulch and Oak Creek also contain recognized hiking routes.