The Spanish Fork Cross, as known by locals, is a very short yet rewarding hike that leads to a giant white cross on a hill that overlooks the town of Spanish Fork, Utah to the North, and has amazing views of the mountains and Spanish Fork Peak to the East and South. The Spanish Fork Cross trail is near the Spanish Fork Reservoir and Campground, and is perfect for kids and dogs. In Winter the trail is 3 miles RT from the first gate, and in Summer the trail is only 2 miles RT since you can drive further up. Dogs are allowed off leash once on the trail, however they do need to stay on leash in Summer as you walk through the campground and on roads.
From SLC, head south on I-15 and take exit 257 towards Spanish Fork Canyon. Drive 4.1 miles and turn right on Powerhouse Rd (at the Chevron). Drive 0.9 miles and turn left on Spanish Oaks Dr (there's also a sign for the Spanish Fork Gun Club). Keep following this road until you reach the first gate, where there is another sign for the Gun Club. In Winter, you'll need to park here in front of the gate on the side of the road, then walk up the road. In Summer, you can keep driving past this gate and park in the main parking lot.
The Jones Hole Trail is located in the northern section of Dinosaur National Monument (DNM) on the Utah side - DNM also stretches across to Colorado. This area and trailhead (TH) is home to the Jones Hole National Fish Hatchery, where rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout are raised to stock areas in Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. The Jones Hole Creek runs alongside the hatchery, and eventually flows into the Green River, where the trail ends. The trail itself is very mellow, gradually descending as it reaches the confluence. Take a short side trip to Ely Falls and the pictographs, before continuing down stream. Big Horn sheep are often spotted in this canyon.
Head North on Main St., then turn right onto 500 N Street. In 6 miles, veer left onto Diamond Mountain Road. This main road will turn into Jones Hole Road. Stay on this until you reach the Fish Hatchery. The trail starts from the parking lot, on the south side. The road is paved the entire way. There are no public restrooms at the TH.
Distance: 9 miles RT (including Ely Falls)
Elevation gain: 562 ft (on the way back to the TH)
Time: 4-6 hours
Dog friendly? No, dogs are not allowed on this trail.
Kid friendly? No, due to distance
First we checked out the main area, at the Quarry Visitor Center. We camped at the Split Mountain Campground, then headed over to the Jones Hole area, which is about an hour away. Follow Moqui the Vans' adventures at @sprint2slowdown on Instagram!
Park in the main lot, then walk towards the SW corner and you'll see some stairs.
Now you'll see the official signs for for trail.
Walk alongside the fish hatchery and metal fences.
Pass some more trail signs. Sadly, no dogs are allowed on this trail. Charlie was home with his Dad for this trip.
You'll immediately see the creek, and the canyon begins to deepen and the walls get taller.
This canyon is so pretty!
The trail is really easy to follow, and once again the canyon opens up.
Cross the one and only bridge.
Just after the bridge, on your right side, you'll see some faint side trails leading up to the rock. This is where all the pictographs are located (see map below), This big horn sheep is the most famous out of all of them. Just a reminder that touching or removing rock art is illegal.
More pictographs, made by the Fremont culture.
Roughly half way to the Green River, you'll see the trail split sign for Ely Falls. The sign says 1/2 mile, but it felt like 1/2 RT, not one way. It only took us about 15 minutes RT to see it. I would highly suggest stopping by to see them.
On the way to Ely Falls.
Ely Falls was much smaller and shorter than I pictured, but still a fun side trek. I bet in the middle of summer this would be so fun to stand under and cool off!
Back on the main trail, you'll pass the small campsite on your right (not pictured). There's also a port-a-potty there. You do need a backcountry camping permit to camp there, which can be picked up at the Quarry Visitor Center.
So nice to be in tank tops in February!
Eventually the trail opens up more.
Keep following the main trail as you approach the Green River.
Reach the official TH end!
Pano of the Green River looking East.
At the Green River looking West.
As you know by now, Lindsay will swim anywhere, any time, any month. Be careful of swimming here, as the current is very strong. She walked out far enough to just where she could dunk.
We made it back to the van to meet up with Sarah again - she didn't hike since she was still getting over a cold.
Dinosaur National Monument (DNM) is located in both Utah and Colorado - the Utah side is just outside of Vernal, Utah and offers a large dinosaur quarry, trails, camping, and amazing scenery of the Uintah Basin and Green River. Petroglyphs hint at earlier cultures (mainly the Fremont), and later homesteaders and outlaws found refuge here. Of course the name of the game here are the dinosaur fossils. Visitors can see over 1,500 dinosaur fossils exposed on the cliff face, located inside the Quarry Exhibit Hall. It's one of the most amazing sites for Paleontologists and explorers-alike. Plan to spend at least one full day at DNM.
From SLC head East on I-80, then HWY 40 until you reach Vernal, UT. From Vernal, stay on 40 until you see the sign for Dinosaur Quarry Visitor Center and turn left (aka UT-149).
Dog friendly? No, sadly DNM only allows dogs (on leash) on one trail. I would leave them at home so you can explore the entire park. On the Utah side, dogs can only hike the River Trail. On the Colorado side, there are more options. Click here for more info on pets.
Kid friendly? Yes! This is a great place for kids to explore.
Fees/Permits? Yes, there are entrance fees. Permits are needed for backcountry camping only.
Is this a good place for dogs?
No. The Utah side of DNM allows dogs, on-leash, on the River Trail only. To get the best experience and see the most, plan on leaving your dogs home or at a kennel in Vernal.
I haven't personally used this company, but "Give a Dog a Choice" has great reviews online for kennel services.
Is this a good place for kids?
Yes! DNM is perfect for kids - lots of exploring, & learning, interaction within the visitor center, with the park rangers, and along the trails.
Can I camp at DNM?
Yes! DNM Utah has two campgrounds. The Split Mountain CG which is open year round, and the Green River CG (open only in Summer).
Dinosaur Quarry & Trail
The Quarry Exhibit Hall showcases 1,500 dinosaur bones in a refurbished area. You can see the remains of several species of dinosaurs, and can even touch a real bone that is 149 million years old (fun for kids!).
There is also a short trail that you can hike right from the parking lot. It's about a mile round-trip and is very easy, minus a few steps. There are 3 main sections where you can see fossils embedded in the rock. There is no shade, so start early to beat the heat and carry at least 1 liter of water. This hike is short enough for children to hike as well. The hike begins by walking down the road until you see the official TH sign (about a 2 minute walk - see photo below).
Quarry Exhibit Hall
Fossil Discovery TH
The petroglyphs in DNM are all of the Fremont culture, dating over 1000 years ago. There are several easy trails along the main road in DNM that are very short, and lead to amazing sections of petroglyphs. Some are as small as your hand, others as large as a few feet in height. I've picked out some of my favorites that we hiked to, but there are plenty more to explore if you have time. Please remember that touching or removing sections of petroglyphs are not allowed, and can damage the images.
Josie Morris' Cabin
Josie Morris was one of the few homesteaders in the area, back when she had no money and decided to build her own cabin where she would live for 50 years. Her cabin consisted of 2 bedrooms, an open kitchen, living room, and dining area. Her 5th and last husband lived with Josie, as well as her son, daughter-in-law, and their child. Josie often took on the "men's work" daily, including chopping wood, cooking, milking cows, entertaining guests, and tending to the chicken coop and garden.
Fantasy Canyon is about an hour south of Vernal, Utah and is a small, but unique area consisting of grayish-brown sandstone. Most of the main erosion direction is horizontal and resembles irregular stacked planks, bones, or thin pinnacles. Keep in mind that these formations are extremely fragile - don't break off pieces or take them home. Most of the formations occur on the north side of the mesa, centered along a narrow ravine only 200 ft long and up to 20 feet deep. Exploring this area is really interesting and fun, but it is really small. Plan on combining visiting Fantasy Canyon with other hikes in the Vernal area to make it a worthwhile trip, If you plan on only coming out here to see Fantasy Canyon, you may be disappointed.
From SLC head East on I-80, then take HWY 40 for the next 144 miles. When you see the sign for "Ouray, UT' turn right onto UT-88. Drive 17 miles and just after you cross the bridge, turn left and you'll be on Chipeta Grove Rd. Stay on this road until you reach the first and only 4-way intersection. Drive straight and you'll now follow the signs for Fantasy Canyon.
There isn't really a trail - this is more of an "explore on your own" area. Exploring Fantasy Canyon will take an hour, max.
Kid friendly? Yes!
Dog friendly? Yes, off leash
Can you camp here?
Yes, camping is allowed and free right in the parking area. There is one port-a-potty. There are a few picnic tables as well. There's plenty of flat area for tents, and RVs/Vans can easily make the drive as well (no hook-ups).
Follow the signs to reach the main parking area.
The large parking area, where you can also camp. The biggest downside to the Fantasy Canyon area is that it is surrounded by oil & gas fields.
Since we camped here the night before, we woke up to Fantasy Canyon for sunrise. It wasn't the best time to get photos of this area. The ideal time would be late afternoon to sunset.
There are so many fun things you can find and explore - found this really small hole as I was staring at the rocks.
Piles of stacked rock.
Taking it all in!
Fin-like rock which was about only 1 inch in thickness.
Phipps Arch swoops through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument affording constant view of bizarre and beautiful land, as hikers search for this hidden arch. There is no official trail - getting to the arch requires a little research and planning. This is a hike you definitely want to have a GPS for. Because this is a trail-less approach, you will rarely see many people hiking here because it's not nearly as popular as its neighbor trail, Lower Calf Creek Falls. There are two routes to approach Phipps Arch. 1) The confluence of Calf Creek and the Escalante River. This is the shorter route but requires you to ford the river and cut through riparian vegetation. 2) Off mile marker 71 on HWY 12. This route is longer but much more scenic. We opted for the longer route mainly because we didn't want to cross the Escalante River in January (too cold!). We also had all day to explore and were up for a little route finding. If you are feeling adventerous, you can continue another .8 miles to Maverik Bridge. However, Maverik is small, and more of a natural bridge. We didn't do it because we heard it wasn't that great compared to Phipps and that we'd be a little disappointed with it. Plan to hike 4-6 hours RT in a very sandy trail with little shade. Be prepared with plenty of water, even in Winter. Keep in mind that cattle graze this area, so have a leash handy if you bring your dogs. Avoid hiking this trail between May-October when daytime temps are extremely hot - dogs can easily burn their paws on the sand and slickrock.
From Escalante, UT drive east on HWY 12 for 11.7 miles. The trail starts immediately east of mile marker 71, on the right side of the road where there is a small pull out (enough to fit 2 cars). There's a bunch of yellow arrows for the sharp turn. It's an unsigned, unpaved pullout. If you pass the "slow vehicles must pull over" green sign, you went too far. However, we had to park further up the road so our Sprinter Van would fit, then walk back to the TH.
Distance: 9.2 miles RT
Elevation gain: 206 ft (-503 ft descent)
Time: 4-6 hours
Dog friendly? Yes, off leash
Kid friendly? No, due to length and scramble
What the "parking" area looks like - it's just passed mile marker 71 in between the yellow arrows and white road markers. Only 1-2 cars can fit here.
Here's another angle of where you should park for the trail.
You can see there's not much room to park at the actual TH, so we had to drive further up the road to where we could safely park our Sprinter Van.
Descend South from where you parked, hiking over slickrock and sand. Make your way down to the wash. You'll hike past tenajas (depressions holding water).
Within 10 minutes you'll reach the first of 5 dryfalls. Its easiest to get down by hiking right of the dryfall, then back down to the wash.
Scoping out a spot to hike down. There's no "right" way to get down - whatever you feel is comfortable and avoids hiking over the cryptobiotic soil.
Reach the 2nd dryfall quickly after the first. It's easy to get around on the left side this time.
Continue East along the dry wash, and you'll reach the 3rd dryfall.
And once again, after hiking about 20 minutes in the dry wash reach the 4th dryfall which leads into a group of Cottonwoods. After this dryfall, the trail abruptly veers right.
Then reach the last, 5th dryfall. This is the biggest at roughly 150 ft. To get around it, stay right along the rim for about .25 miles, following cairns.
Keep an eye out for the white sand dune on your left, which is the easiest way to get down to the wash again.
Once in the bottom of the wash, head straight until you see the other wash come in from the right, then turn left.
As you turn left, you should now be hiking below tall rock walls.
The trail eventually curves north.
You can see there's actually a faint trail that we were able to follow. Don't rely on this being here, as the wind and rain can change what the wash looks like.
The Cottonwoods become more profuse, and this is where the trail gets a little tricky. You have to have to navigate through cow poop, fallen trees and brances, ducking quickly so as not to hit your face with tree limbs. This section is often laden with mucky, muddy water as well, and lasts for about a mile.
Pass this broad, shallow, 300ft high alcove on your right. This would be a good place to camp if you had to, since it would protect you from rain and wind, however, there is a lot of cow poop everywhere.
Cross through the log & barbed wire fence.
The canyon begins to open up and the path is easier to follow, making faster progress. After the alcove, when you see the first drainage open to your right, turn right. There should be a few cairns pointing you in the right direction, but again, this is where a GPS comes in handy.
Follow the cairns as you make your way higher on the Northern ledge. Phipps Arch is up to the left in this photo, but you won't be able to see it until you reach the base of it.
The cairns were super helpful in hiking up the ledges.
Keep an eye out for cairns leading you up steep ledges. All are very easy scrambling.
The pups lead the way.
Follow this prominent ledge for a few feet, then scramble up another steep section on the right. Keep wrapping around the edges following cairns.
As soon as you turn left up a small draw, you will see Phipps Arch!
View from the top, near the arch looking down into the canyon you just hiked from.
This arch is so cool! I don't think I've seen an arch with as much thickness before.
The best view is further away upon some rocks, looking north.
The previous day a storm passed through, so the temperatures dropped quite a bit making it cold on top of the rocks, but it sure gave way to clear blue skies.
Phipps Arch looking south.
Charlie is lit up by the afternoon glow inside the arch.
After viewing the arch either make your way over to Maverik natural bridge, or return the way you come. Another cool option would be to do this hike as a point-to-point. Start at mile marker 71, see the arch, then end at the Escalante TH. It would be about 8 miles one way. You would need to have at least two cars to be able to do this.
Trail map. The yellow dots are the dryfalls and significant points along the trail. You can click on each..
Broken Bow Arch is located off Hole in the Rock Road (HITR), 41 miles south of Escalante, UT. Broken Bow spans nearly 100 ft, and sits in the middle of Willow Gulch. This trail is more popular among backpackers looking to reach Fortymile Gulch as well. This hike can be done in a loop, but is just as good as an out-and-back hike at 4 miles RT. Many people often compare Broken Bow Arch to Corona Arch in Moab, as is has the same shape and slant. The main difference between those two are the crowds (you won't see many people at Broken Bow, sometimes none like we did!). I think the trail is prettier to Broken Bow as well, just becasue you are hiking between large canyon walls whereas Corona Arch is wide open. This is a great hike to do if you only have a few hours, and are near The End of Hole in the Rock Eoad.
From Escalante, UT head East on HWY 12, then turn right for Hole in the Rock Road. Reset your odometer. Drive 40.5 miles, and turn left with a blue post signed "276" for the County Road number. Drive 1.4 miles to the end of the road where the trail starts.
It's a good idea to call the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center before making the drive. This is where you can also get maps, get your free backcountry camping permit, use clean restrooms, fill up on water, and ask the questions about the area. This is another good site to get more info on the visitor center.
Distance: 4.2 miles RT
Elevation gain: 138 ft (-456 ft descent)
Time: 2-4 hours
Dog friendly? There is a sign that says dogs must be leased but nobody does as long as you have them under voice control
Kid friendly? Yes
Fees/Permits? None. There is a sign that says camping permits are required, but not for day hiking. Camping permits are free however.
One of the main reasons we did this trip - Sarah got a new Sprinter Van!!!! You can follow "Moquie The Van's" adventures on Instagram @Sprint2SlowDown It was so nice to be out of the wind and rain, and have our entire camp with us at all times! We comfortably slept 3 humans and 3 dogs. This style of van has 2WD and bigger tires, making it a piece of cake to drive down HITR road. This is definitely an upgrade from tent camping or backpacking, but you'll still see me doing those things on here! I can't give up my love of backpacking :) You'll also notice it was raining when we started hiking. You never want to hike in slot canyons while its raining (they are quick to become flash flood zones), but because we knew this was a much bigger canyon, we felt safe enough to hike 4 miles quickly.
The trail starts in the NE of the end of the parking area.
Follow the trail down, and keep and eye out for the one and only flat top rock on the sandy hillside. Stay to the right of that rock.
You'll see the trail drop down to the wash. It's a little steep, so just remember you have to hike back up this section.
Don't rely on cairns to direct you in the canyon. As long as you have a trail app, like Gaia GPS, you'll stay on track. The nice thing about Gaia GPS is that you can pre-download maps & tracks for the area you are going, plus create waypoints among many other features. If you even want/need GPS tracks/routes for any hike, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
At the bottom of the wash - continue hiking in a SE direction.
These small sections look like the beginnings of a slot canyon. I'll have to come back in 500,000 years to see if it morphed into one LOL.
It's easier to walk above those mini slot canyons.
You will hike through some narrower sections of canyon, and those are really pretty.
Eventually the trail opens up, and you are hiking on top of a semi-mesa with sage brush. The trail will lead you down, to the now Willow Gulch.
Water is usually found here year-round. It's typically never more than ankle deep, and can be avoided by rock hopping or staying off to the sides.
Surprisingly the water is very clean and clear - pawfect for the dogs to drink from.
Now the not-so-fun-part happens - cutting through a section of thick trees. It only lasts for a few hundred feet though.
Once you see this lone, bent Cottonwood Tree, you know you are close.
As you turn the corner, BAM! You'll see Broken Bow Arch.
You can just walk in the shallow stream of off to the side once again. Follow the trail across the stream to get to the top of the mini mesa to have the best view.
WOW! This arch is huge.
The sides are really thick, and dark brown. You can get to the other side of the arch as well, by hiking below it, then up and around to the back.
I headed over to the alcove, where it would be a perfect camp site.
Plenty of space for up to 8-10 tents and shelter from the rain.
At the top of the alcove, looking back to Broken Bow.
We decided to hike under the arch.
Keep in mind that we hiked this in JANUARY. And what does Lindsay want to do? Go down the natural waterslide into a pool of water - yikes! This would be really fun...in Summer!
Exploring the area - the rain was starting to come down a little harder now. I knew we had to hurry and get out.
This arch was awesome! I would definitely come back, but turn it into a backpacking trip and head down..
Zebra Slot Canyon is located off of Hole in the Rock Road, near Escalante, UT. The hike is only 2 miles in, and the best section of the striped walls only lasts for about 100 ft. Getting to the slot is quite easy, as it meanders through Juniper & Sage brush, cuts through a beautiful red rock canyon, then open up as you walk through the sandy dry wash, and eventually leads to the iconic striped walls resembling zebra stripes. The biggest issue with hiking through Zebra Slot Canyon is the water; 90% of the time this canyon has standing water from recent/prior rain storms. When I saw that some friends went, and said it was completely dry, I knew I had to hurry and get down there. I had attempted Zebra back in November 2014 but was full of icy water. I wasn't properly dressed or had neoprene socks to walk through that. I knew I had to get back, and we timed it perfectly this time.
Drive East of Escalante, UT on HWY 12, then turn right onto Hole in the Rock Road. Reset your odometer and drive 8 miles. The TH/parking lot is right at a cattle guard, and the trail starts on the East side of the road.
Dog friendly? Yes, off leash but read advisory below
Kid friendly? Yes, but read advisory below
Can I bring my dog here?
Though dogs are allowed off leash, and we brought ours along, I wouldn't recommend taking dogs here. Zebra slot canyon is very narrow; there are also several tight obstacles they need assistance with - the hardest is getting them over a really narrow section at the bottom. We had to sit cross-canyon (legs and back agains the wall), and let the dogs walk over our laps to get across! Another option would be to bring them, but then each hiker goes one by one to get to the end, then comes back and trades off watching the dogs at the canyon entrance.
If you still want to bring your dog, make sure they wear a dog harness to help pull them over obstacles.
Is this a good hike for kids?
Kids who are comfortable with tight spaces and scrambling will have fun and do well. They will need help getting over/through the tightest sectioins.
What should I bring?
Each person should carry at least 2-3 liters of water. The simpler & lighter you go, the easier it will be getting through the canyon. We opted to leave our packs at the canyon entrance so we didn't have to worry about carrying them through. The best section is really short anyway, and you should need anything out of your pack for 15-20 minutes. Also don't wear your "nice" hiking clothes - the canyon walls will scrape your clothes and they can get torn. Dress in layers - even in January we were down to tank tops when popped out of the canyon into the sun.
The parking area is big, and is right on the other side of the cattle guard off Hole in the Rock Road (HITR), on the West side fo the road.
The trail starts on the East side of HITR road.
The trail is very easy as it meanders through Sage & Juniper trees - pass the No Collection sign.
As you can see the trail is very exposed - no shade for the entire hike. Make sure you carry sunblock, plenty of water, and a hat, even in Winter.
Hike past the Wilderness Study Area sign, and you will now be in a dry wash called Halfway Hollow.
Cut through the gate either right through the swining ladders, or off to the right, where you can move a gate to get through.
You should now be hiking through some amazing red rock country!
Once you reach the large, dry Harris Wash, head left. You can either walk through the middle of the wash, or off to the side on the right through some sage brush. Either way it's slow going since it's thick sand.
Entrance to Zebra. The temperatures weren't even that hot, yet Charlie decided to take a break in the shade. We dropped our packs right around the corner so we didn't have to shimmy through the slot with them on.
I think they are all saying, "ME FIRST!" This was one of the toughest sections to get them over because the ground was too narrow for even us to put our feet. We had to put our backs and legs against the walls, then let the dogs walk over our legs!
Same tough spot, but looking back to the others as they get the last dog, Copper, across. He was the hardest since he is the biggest dog at 80 lbs.
The canyon stays narrow, but this time the dogs can make it through themselves.
And after one last boost up for Charlie, we found the best section. It's even more amazing in person! The end of the canyon is only about 10 ft behind me. To be honest, it's a long, dry, sandy hike to get to for such a short section of the zebra stripes. This was my second time here, and I finally got to see the best part, but wouldn't do this hike again.
Just chillin' with my girls.
Trail map (you can see my GPS went a little crazy in the slot canyon)
Spooky & Peekaboo are the most popular slot canyons in the Escalante area. The access is easy, you can easily do both as a loop in a few hours, and hikers without technical canyoneering equipment or skills can enjoy both. Spooky slot canyon is one of the narrowest canyons in the world that hikers can safely navigate. It's much longer and slimmer than Peekaboo, forcing hikers to carry daypacks to the side as you shuffle through. Add in a few short obstacles and one 5 ft scramble to make it that much more fun. Claustrophobic people will have a hard time with this Spooky.
Peekaboo slot canyon is shorter and shallow compared to Spooky, but still offers views of amazing twisting and turning canyon walls. It's best to do these canyons as a loop hike, rather than hike up and back, then up and back the other. The best route, in my opinion, is to hike up Spooky first, cross over, then drop down Peekaboo (clounterclockwise direction). The reason I say this is because it's easier to drop down a 15 ft dryfall rather than hike up it. The obstacles in Spooky are much easier to manuever by hiking up as well.
If it's rained recently, you will find pools of water in both canyons, but their floors are typically dry and sandy. If there's even a slight chance of rain, stay away. Slot canyons can instantly become flashflood death zones. Both slots are brightest during mid-day, so if you are looking to do some photography start around 11am. The downside to this is that you may encounter many more hikers wanting to continue through. Start early to beat the heat and the other hikers.
From Escalante, head East on HWY 12, then turn south for Hole in The Rock Rd (HITR). Reset your odometer and drive 26 miles down the well-graded dirt road. Turn left at the signed "Dry Fork TH" (also Co Rd 252), then drive 1.7 miles to the end of the road. This road can be very rutted out, so if needed, you can park at the first parking lot about 1/2 mile on that same turn off, then walk the rest of the way to the TH.
Distance: 4.5 RT (loop)
Elevation gain: 673 ft
Time: 2-4 hours
Dog friendly? Yes, off leash but read advisory below
Kid friendly? Yes, but read advisory below
Can I bring my dog here?
Though dogs are allowed off leash, and we brought ours along, I wouldn't recommend taking dogs here. Spooly slot canyon is very narrow, only 12 inches at its widest. There are also several obstacles they need assistance with - the hardest being a 5 ft scramble up to another boulder hop. Then on the way down out from PeekaBoo slot canyon, they need help getting down a 15 ft dryfall. Dogs over 70-75 pounds will definitely not fit through the Spooky Slot Canyon.
If you still want to bring your dog, make sure they wear a dog harness to help pull them over obstacles and to lower them down the 15 ft drop. You don't need ropes persay, but definitely 2-3 other people helping you and your dog out.
Is this a good hike for kids?
Kids who are comfortable with tight spaces and scrambling will have fun and do well. They will need help up the 5 ft scramble, and getting down the 15 ft dryfall.
Another option for both dogs and kids is to only hike into the canyon where you feel comfortable, then turn around. However, if you go during high tourist season (March-October), there will be few options for turning around where you won't run into others trying to hike up the slot.
What should I bring?
Only bring one backpack per group of hikers - Spooky Canyon is too narrow to fit you and your backpack. There were 4 of us in our group plus the dogs, and we were able to share a pack with all of our snacks and 3 liters of water. The hike is only 4.5 miles RT so you don't need a ton of gear. The simpler & lighter you go, the easier it will be getting through the canyon. Also don't wear your "nice" hiking clothes - the canyon walls will scrape your clothes and they can get torn. Dress in layers - even in January we were down to tank tops when popped out of the canyon into the sun.
As you apporach the TH and parking area, you'll see this nice new sign.
The trail starts in the NE corner of the lot.
Follow the large cairns to get to the base of Dry Fork Canyon.
You'll hike through sand and slickrock, as you keep descending.
Once in the canyon, pass the entrance to Peekaboo on your left, then continuing following the trail to the entrance of Spooky.
Our "spooked" faces as we enter Spooky Slot Canyon!
Making our way into the canyon!
Charlie leads us into the darkness.
And now you can see how tight the canyon is! Charlie is 70 lbs are barely scrapes through.
Getting tighter! See all those little bumps on the canyon walls? They will tear your clothes easily.
Fun photo spot with the pups. From left to right:
Polly, Springer Spaniel
Mac, Springer Spaniel
Charlie, my Golden Lab
Copper, a Blue Tick Coonhound
Sometimes the canyon is even too narrow for feet to fit comfortably.
A rare sighting of Charlie smiling! He loves slot canyons.
Yeah, it's that narrow!
Towards the end of Spooky, you'll reach the 5 ft scramble. You have to kind of chimney your feet up - the boulder where he is gripping has two really good hand holds to pull up.
Make your way over some really small boulders, and then you'll exit Spooky.
As soon as you get out of Spooky, look for the trail to the left. This is your trail to loop over to Peekaboo.
Loving this tank top weather in January! PS I'm loving my new shades from Nectar - check them out on Amazon!
Keep following the cairns as it leads you to the East side of Peekaboo.
Follow the slot canyon to the west as you enter Peekaboo.
The Rochester Panel and Molen Reef Petroglyphs are near Emery, Utah, and consists of one very large panel of hundreds of images likely carved by the Fremont Native Americans. The vast majority of the petroglyphs have a strong Barrier Canyon influnce, including animals, female/male figures, and one large rainbow-like image. Molen Reef Petroglyphs are much smaller, but still expose what the native people were contemplating. You can easily combine both in one afternoon, as the hike to the Rochester Panel is only 1/2 mile, and you can drive right up to the Molen Reef area. Kids, dogs, and casual hikers will enjoy these areas, but please respect the rules and DO NOT touch any of the petroglyphs.
Here's a driving map to the Rochester Panel if coming from Emery, UT.
Here's a driving map to the Molen Reef Petroglyphs if coming from Ferron, UT. The parking area is between mile 6 & 7, off HWY Co Rd 803.
(For Rochester Panel)
Distance: 0.8 miles RT
Elevation gain: flat, 30 ft
Time: 1 hour
Dog friendly? Yes, off leash
Kid friendly? Yes
The parking lot is huge, and the TH starts on the East side of the lot.
Follow the trail as it curves down to the right.
You'll hike to the bottom of the canyon, then hike back up a few feet.
Hike along a wide ridge area.
Then BAM! The most amazing petroglyphs I have seen in Utah. It's my few favorite! Sadly, that white chuck of rock that is missing is thought to be because people chipped out the sections they wanted to keep for themselves.
*** It is illegal to remove rock art, and touching is NOT allowed! Help preserve petroglyphs - even the oils from our hands can darken them and destroy the carved images. ***
The Dutchman Arch & the Head of Sinbad Pictographs are located in the San Rafael Swell - they are actually only about 1/4 and 1/2 mile north of I-70, but driving there takes some effort and a 4X4 drive car. Dutchman Arch is actually quite large, and a fun area to explore with dogs or kids. There's no hiking involved - you can park on either side of the arch.
The Head of Sinbad (aka Locomotive Point) has two large pictographs high up on the sandstone, and are of Barrier Canyon-style. They are also Kachina-type figures - one is holding a snake in its hand and the other has it near its mouth. It appears that their feet are showing movement, perhaps dancing in a ceremony. This panel may be a depiction of a snake dance that is reminiscent of the Hopi Snake Dance, where the members carry handfuls of snakes and even hold them in their mouth. The Hopi believe snakes are their ancestors.
From I-70 take exit 131, drive under the highway, then head East on Temple Mountain Road for 5 miles, then turn right at the sign for "Head of Sinbad". Drive another mile, pass a pond on your right, and you'll reach a "T" - turn right again. You'll come across a "Y" in the road - stay right and follow the road as it passes through a viaduct under I-70. The viaduct has a cement bottom, however it can be extremely sandy or wet depending on recent weather. When we went, there was about 6 inches of pure sand, making it a little difficult to drive through. As soon as you get out of the viaduct, keep right/straight. You'll see another road connect from the left (this takes you over to Dutchman Arch). Stay to the right until the road forks again, and you'll see a brown post marked "Trail 644". Turn right here to see the Head of Sinbad pictograph. To get over to Dutchman Arch, head back to the road that connected from the left.
Here's a screen shot of the map, since Google Maps doesn't understand how to drive off road. I highly recommend that you get this Utah Benchmark Map - it's super detailed and accurate. Make sure you have plenty of water, food, and gas - there are no services for miles.
There is no hiking - simply park and walk up to both Dutchman Arch and Head of Sinbad.
There's only one sign for the Head of Sinbad. The next signs will be for Dutchman Arch, but no more for Sinbad.
Driving through the viaduct eeek! It was a little scary since our car started to slow down and tires spun in the thick sand. Small cars will definitley NOT make it through. Make sure at a minimum you have 2WD. We have a Rogue and it (barely) made it! After you exit the viaduct the road immediatley splits, but the left road was compeletly washed out with 4-5 foot drops, so we had to take the round-a-bout way to get there (which I have described in my directions).
Driving up to Dutchman Arch.
What a cool arch!
It's hard to tell but the thickness of the top of the arch is about 5-6 feet.
Posing for us dog moms!
Dutchman Arch from another angle.
Head of Sinbad
The road leading to Head of Sinbad is very rutted out, but as long as we stayed high on the right side (super tilted as you can see), we made it. Towards the very end of the road it drops about 3 feet into a ditch, so it's actually easier to drive up on the right side where you can see the faint tire tracks. If your car can't make it very far, you can also park at the turn off and just hike the rest of the way.
The road ends in a loop, and all you need to do is walk through the fence then look for the images.
Surprisingly, both images are quite high up the rock. I was amazed at how dark these pictographs were compared to it's neighbor, The Lone Warrior.