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Thread: Happy Canyon

  1. #1

    Happy Canyon

    I give you: the narrows of Happy Canyon. This canyon is absolutely gorgeous, and is a photographer's dream. But, it's charms aren't relinquished easily. BE WARNED: this canyon is in an extremely rugged and remote location. We left Monticello at 7:30 am, and arrived in Happy Canyon at around 3:30 pm. Making a day hike out of Happy Canyon requires a monumental effort. Consult the map below:

    1 - We arrive at a fork in the road after 90 minutes of driving on dirt roads from Hwy 24.

    2 - The going is so slow in a 4wd truck, that we decide to ditch the truck, and bust out the ATV for the remainder of the road. A 4wd vehicle will not make it far beyond here. The road is impassible in many spots to regular vehicular travel.

    3 - We encounter two very large boulders that block the road. We are persistent, and roll some large rocks out of the way, and continue cautiously on a very rugged ATV track.

    4 - Here we ditch the ATV (after more than 90 minutes since ditching the truck). We descend on foot down some steep slopes to the Dirty Devil river. Happy Canyon is just around the corner.

    5 - We reach the mouth of Happy Canyon after 8 solid hours of traveling on paved and dirt roads, in a truck, on an ATV, and on foot. We had to wade the Dirty Devil river three times.

    6 - This is where we turned around in Happy Canyon.

    I would say if you plan on doing happy Canyon, bring an ATV (or at least a mountain bike), because if you plan to hike to Happy Canyon on foot, it will take you all day. This is probably the most remote slot canyon I have ever hiked to.

    And now to the pictures....
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  4. #3
    happy canyon... good times.

    that road down ps adn alogn the black ledges must be in bad shape. i did this a few years ago during summer. left bluff when we got up and from 95 it took us about 3+ hours to make the mouth of happy, drive (4runner) and hike combined. we were able to drive til the road on the black ledges cul de saced in a big flat. hiked all the way up and out for a bit, then had to leave to meet people in teh swell by nightfall. very pretty canyon. drove a herd of about 20 desert bighorns up form the dd to a break in the walls near the 1st bend i think where they headed out. the petrified wood along the black ledges is amazing. some really big chunks. saw one spot where you could make out most of the tree, as if it had just fallen and turned to rock that minute.

    i am curious about the next canyon south too. has a slot at its head and looks interesting...
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  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by goofball
    i am curious about the next canyon south too. has a slot at its head and looks interesting...
    Yes, I am too. I had my eye on it on the approach to Happy. It's got to have a slot very similar to happy - it's in the same geologic formation, and drains a fairly large area.

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by rockgremlin
    Quote Originally Posted by goofball
    i am curious about the next canyon south too. has a slot at its head and looks interesting...
    Yes, I am too. I had my eye on it on the approach to Happy. It's got to have a slot very similar to happy - it's in the same geologic formation, and drains a fairly large area.
    i am totally infatuated w/ the whole dd region. its isolation, its ruggedness, its bredth and depth... just incredible.

    it is just so difficult to access.

    there is a track heading s from burr point that looks as if it continues to near poison spring canyons rim. don't know how good a track it is or how far ti could be traveled, but aerials show it. also seems like there might be a break in the cliffs between happy and that littel brother south. possible access point. on the "to do (or die trying)" list...

    and nice pics. makes me home sick.
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  7. #6
    Wow, fantastic photos. Looks like a great trip. How long did you spend in the canyon itself? Lots of invested time...

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Cirrus2000
    Wow, fantastic photos. Looks like a great trip. How long did you spend in the canyon itself? Lots of invested time...
    We spent maybe 90 - 120 minutes in the slot. You're right though, lots of invested time. I would recommend that if you wanna do Happy Canyon, make a backpacking trip out of it, and explore some of the other slots in the area.

  9. #8
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    Cool photos!

    My four year old loves Happy Canyon and the name of it.

    Yes, I am too. I had my eye on it on the approach to Happy. It's got to have a slot very similar to happy - it's in the same geologic formation, and drains a fairly large area.
    Sort of similar, but not really. It's called Two Step Canyon. It is narrower, has more climbing, and is shorter.

    it is just so difficult to access.
    Have to disagree with that. Here's some encouragement. It's actually very easy to get to and you can approach from at least five routes, some of which can be approached by any car. All but two of the routes are easy hikes that I would take my two and four year old on, and have taken the later. Almost anyone (that is well prepared and can read a map) can go there, so just get out and do it.

    I would recommend that if you wanna do Happy Canyon, make a backpacking trip out of it, and explore some of the other slots in the area.
    I would agree. There is much to do in the immediate area and it's a great place to visit in winter. I also like walking up to the Pinnacle in Happy. It's pretty neat. Don't forget Hatch and Fiddler Cove Canyon are right there as well.

    http://uutah.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5463

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Anyway, that track must have been recently washed out (October). It was rough, but we were able to drive to the boulder blockage in 1999 in a Kia Sportage and in 2006 with a Pathfinder. Since we were just down Poison Springs, I had wondered about the condition of the track after last Fall's storms. The Poison Springs to Sunset Pass route definately had some washouts, but we were able to get a Tacoma through.
    Utah is a very special and unique place. There is no where else like it on earth. Please take care of it and keep the remaining wild areas in pristine condition. The world will be a better place if you do.

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson
    Anyway, that track must have been recently washed out (October). It was rough, but we were able to drive to the boulder blockage in 1999 in a Kia Sportage and in 2006 with a Pathfinder. Since we were just down Poison Springs, I had wondered about the condition of the track after last Fall's storms. The Poison Springs to Sunset Pass route definately had some washouts, but we were able to get a Toacoma through.
    The road to the boulders is passable if you have a couple of strong men who are willing to roll boulders out of the way -- and a lot of time. We were crawling through there so slowly with a 4x4 truck that we decided to go with the ATV since it is much more maneuverable, and faster. On the ATV, we passed several large rocks that would definitely stop any vehicle, but looked like they could be moved with two hefty guys. Since my friend and I aren't hefty, we left them for someone else.

  11. #10
    wandering utahn stefan's Avatar
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    nice shots rockG, glad you got out to it.

    when i was in happy canyon, i met a group from arizona who were exploring that area. anyway, they attempted the first time with rugged vehicles (just to check it out) and found that many sections were washed out and weren't able to make it very far. it was late in the day and the ended up getting off the road and camping. i think they had seen that the road was being graded on their attempt, so they ended up waiting and after that the road was much easier. if i remember correctly, they drove branches of the road, but ended up starting from the branch that goes to the dirty devil, and started a 7 day hike from there. they got to happy canyon the afternoon before i did, and managed to watch it flashflood. they hiked up it and it started raining. exited the upper part of the narrows and sat on the rim and watched. nice bunch of folks, they were the only folks i saw for 5 days.

    ya, two step canyon can be climbed up.


    you didn't happen to get any photos of the road with all these rocks did ya?

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by stefan
    you didn't happen to get any photos of the road with all these rocks did ya?
    No. I wish I would've though.

  13. #12
    Trail Master utidcapaco's Avatar
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    Thanks rockgremlin. Just curious, how did you determine the flow of the Dirty Devil?

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by utidcapaco
    Thanks rockgremlin. Just curious, how did you determine the flow of the Dirty Devil?
    This website:

    http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ut/nwis/rt

  15. #14
    Trail Master utidcapaco's Avatar
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    Duh, I should have known that. Thanks!

  16. #15
    Bottom Tier Superhero Iceaxe's Avatar
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    Congrads....

    I know Happy Canyon has been on your tick list for a long time. Nice to see you finally get it.


  17. #16
    Probably 7-8 years ago drove my Jeep on the mine track on the Black Jump to the end of the 4wd area overlooking the Dirty Devil. Car camped and did a half day hike to the spectacular narrows the next day.
    Excellent photography. Would like to return, that road would make a nice backpacking trip out of it, with access to a lot of beautiful territory.
    Loved the petrified wood---
    You can rest when you're dead

  18. #17

    Re: TR - Happy Canyon

    Quote Originally Posted by rockgremlin
    3 - We encounter two very large boulders that block the road. We are persistent, and roll some large rocks out of the way, and continue cautiously on a very rugged ATV track.

    4 - Here we ditch the ATV (after more than 90 minutes since ditching the truck). We descend on foot down some steep slopes to the Dirty Devil river. Happy Canyon is just around the corner.
    Visited last Saturday. Came back to find this thread. We were able to bounce and squeeze the truck all the way to 3, but I was simply amazed to see ATV tracks beyond that. We ran into a couple of prospectors from Hanksville. They were out staking mining claims over the entire area. They said the price of uranium has gone from $5 to $95 lb. over the last couple of years. My guess is that road is likely to see some major improvements in the near future.

    http://canyonquest.com/happy

  19. #18

    Re: TR - Happy Canyon

    Quote Originally Posted by canyonquest
    Visited last Saturday. Came back to find this thread. We were able to bounce and squeeze the truck all the way to 3, but I was simply amazed to see ATV tracks beyond that. We ran into a couple of prospectors from Hanksville. They were out staking mining claims over the entire area. They said the price of uranium has gone from $5 to $95 lb. over the last couple of years. My guess is that road is likely to see some major improvements in the near future.
    Yup, those ATV tracks were ours. My friend is a former motocross racer, so what most would consider insurmountable boulders, he considers a speed bump. We noticed the mining claims when we were out there too. With Uranium up to $95 and climbing, I wouldn't be surprised to see that road get improved in the near future.

  20. #19
    Outdoor Guru Wasatch's Avatar
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    Nice pics, thanks. I've been in the area before on a backpack to Robber's Roost Canyon coming in on the Angel Trail (West side). Damn Dirty Devil was running around 400 csf, it was pretty sketchy at times, also don't forget about the quicksand in a few spots.

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