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Thread: Dark Canyon trip mid April 2017

  1. #1

    Dark Canyon trip mid April 2017

    Greetings. I'll be hiking for 6 days in dark canyon in about 2 weeks. I fly into SLC and will have a rental 2wd, and plan to enter at sundance trailhead. blm said that Road 209 would get me most of the way to the trailhead, but might be rough the last couple miles. Does anyone have any opinions or advice about the roads to that trailhead?

    I have a bit of kiva fever, and so I'm drawn to some of the sections higher in the canyon with ruins, such as in/around Trail, Woodenshoe, Horse Pasture, and Peavine canyons. Given the distances, I may not get to all these. Any nominations for favorites? Does anyone have directions they would be willing to share with me about the Dolls House ruin in upper W?

    Several bogleyans have mentioned that their favorite parts of Dark Canyon were the lower sections, from the Colorado river to Youngs. Why is that?

    Thanks in advance for your ideas and advice. Jonathan

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  3. #2
    I did that hike a few years back. The road is not terribly rough, but it was extremely muddy and we almost got stuck. I went around April as well I believe. With the amount of snow we got this year, I imagine it's going to be even worse.


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  4. #3
    Does anyone have any opinions or advice about the roads to that trailhead?
    The Sundance Trailhead should be fine. The upper trailheads are questionable.

    Several bogleyans have mentioned that their favorite parts of Dark Canyon were the lower sections, from the Colorado river to Youngs. Why is that?
    The lower part is much more scenic and has more water and waterfalls. Good rock art too. A little warmer weather is best though.

    Does anyone have directions they would be willing to share with me about the Dolls House ruin in upper W?
    http://climb-utah.com/CM/dollhouse.htm

    April may be too early to drive out there though.
    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.

  5. #4

  6. #5
    Scott, I've seen two options for getting onto the Sundance Trail; Adkison (Hiking Grand Staircase-Escalante) has one take a side road north right at about the Squaw and Papoose rocks; I've heard this referred elsewhere as the 'old trail'. Other sources suggest going further east on the same 'main' road (208A, from Hite), left later on a side road, and essentially doubling back. Opinions?

    By the way, my sources so far, including Kelsey, put most rock art and ruins in the higher elevation area, near the mouth of Trail, and up in Peavine/HorseP and Woodenshoe canyons, not so much lower down. I've seen references to art at the mouth of Youngs. Do you have sources you can direct me to about rock art in the lower sections, or advice about particular lower canyons, or general advice on where to look? Thanks! J

  7. #6
    Scott, I've seen two options for getting onto the Sundance Trail; Adkison (Hiking Grand Staircase-Escalante) has one take a side road north right at about the Squaw and Papoose rocks; I've heard this referred elsewhere as the 'old trail'. Other sources suggest going further east on the same 'main' road (208A, from Hite), left later on a side road, and essentially doubling back. Opinions?
    We came in from Squaw and Papoose Rocks, so I am unfamiliar with the new trailhead. It don't think it matters to much as it's not far from the rim from either location.

    By the way, my sources so far, including Kelsey, put most rock art and ruins in the higher elevation area, near the mouth of Trail, and up in Peavine/HorseP and Woodenshoe canyons, not so much lower down.


    This is true. There is rock art lower down, but as far as I know, no ruins. The lower canyon is narrower, more confined and doesn't have the alcoves for ruins. No farm land either. We found some rock art in several locations, but it's been long enough that I don't think I can point out the exact locations. The rock art at Youngs Canyon is easy to find.

    The best parts of Dark Canyon are Youngs to Lost Canyon and then again from about a mile below the Sundance Trail to the Colorado River, but it's the upper canyon that has the ruins.

    The Doll House ruin isn't in Woodenshoe Canyon though. You won't see it on the main routes into Dark Canyon.

    I haven't been the Doll House, but other than that one, Dark Canyon really isn't the best hike in the region to see ruins. Yes, there are a few there, but if ruins is what you are after, visit the nearby Fable Valley instead, though again, I don't know if the roads are open this early. The Doll House looks really cool and you should visit that too, but it isn't on the main Woodenshoe Route.


    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.

  8. #7
    Thanks very much, Scott. I've been all over Grand Gulch the last dozen years, and have a bit of kiva fever. More recently I've been enjoying solo winter backpacks in the Grand Canyon, when permits are easy to nab, it's really pleasant and uncrowded. Happy at the ruins/art I've unexpectedly found; GG was good training! I'm slowly branching out, checking out new places along the Colorado. Fable, looped with Gypsum and Bowdie, perhaps with packrafts, is definitely on my list; I think I'd like a hiking partner on those. I'll be doing Dark solo this week. I appreciate your thoughtful comments, here, and elsewhere. J

  9. #8
    I had a great trip in April; road conditions were fine for my 2wd car, and threats of rain at the end didn't materialize. I found one modest spot of rock art upstream from Youngs Canyon, and one small ruin just downstream of the confluence of Dark and Woodenshoe. Bouldering in side canyons, such as Black Steer, was very enjoyable. I then hiked downstream to the Colorado, and ascended to a bench that allowed me to hike upstream along the Colorado about 1.5 miles; that was fun. I may hike the upper section (Woodenshoe-Peavine loop) at the end of this month, assuming I can get all the parts to fall into place. Cheers, J

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