Dark Canyon Trail

Blanding, Utah

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One can hardly visit this remarkable canyon without wondering about the dozens of other similar tributaries of Glen Canyon that were flooded by Lake Powell in 1964. Dark Canyon is more than 200 river miles upstream from Glen Canyon Dam, and consequently it was spared most of the destruction of the lower canyons. The hike described here touches only a few miles of Dark Canyon, the section just above Lake Powell. There is a reliable stream here, and the greenery contrasts sharply with the pink sandstone and shale in the canyon walls. Near the bottom of the canyon is a fascinating layer of Honaker Trail limestone that is chock full of well preserved 300-million-year-old fossils. Beneath that the picturesque creek flows for several miles across a layer of smooth limestone, adorned with a series of idyllic swimming holes and water slides. Dark Canyon is over thirty miles long, and there are many other hiking opportunities along its length. The upper part of the canyon is part of the Manti-La Sal National Forest, and since 1984 it has been protected as the Dark Canyon Wilderness Area. The lower part, unfortunately, is on BLM land and is not within the boundaries of the wilderness area.
Utah's Incredible Backcountry Trails

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Utah's Incredible Backcountry Trails

by David Day (Rincon Publishing)

One can hardly visit this remarkable canyon without wondering about the dozens of other similar tributaries of Glen Canyon that were flooded by Lake Powell in 1964. Dark Canyon is more than 200 river miles upstream from Glen Canyon Dam, and consequently it was spared most of the destruction of the lower canyons. The hike described here touches only a few miles of Dark Canyon, the section just above Lake Powell. There is a reliable stream here, and the greenery contrasts sharply with the pink sandstone and shale in the canyon walls. Near the bottom of the canyon is a fascinating layer of Honaker Trail limestone that is chock full of well preserved 300-million-year-old fossils.

Beneath that the picturesque creek flows for several miles across a layer of smooth limestone, adorned with a series of idyllic swimming holes and water slides. Dark Canyon is over thirty miles long, and there are many other hiking opportunities along its length. The upper part of the canyon is part of the Manti-La Sal National Forest, and since 1984 it has been protected as the Dark Canyon Wilderness Area. The lower part, unfortunately, is on BLM land and is not within the boundaries of the wilderness area.

©  David Day/Rincon Publishing. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Blanding
Distance: 16
Elevation Gain: 2,000 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Duration: 10 hours
Season: Spring, summer, fall
Trailhead Elevation: 5,600 feet
Top Elevation: 5,600 feet
Local Contacts: San Juan Resource Area, Bureau of Land Management, in Monticello
Local Maps: Indian Head Pass (USGS), Bowdie Canyon West (USGS)
Driving Directions: Directions to Dark Canyon Trail

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Apr 2018