Road Canyon

Mexican Hat, Utah 84531

Road Canyon

Road Canyon Professional Review and Guide

"Road Canyon not only offers natural beauty but has many well-preserved Anasazi ruins and rock art. Allow plenty of time for the hike, perhaps an entire day, since you may spend more time here than you expect while scanning hidden recesses for ruins. The ruins in Road Canyon (and those elsewhere on Cedar Mesa) are threatened by an increase in visitation. Simply walking around ruins can inadvertently cause irreparable damage to the site. Several exceptional kivas in Road Canyon have deteriorated significantly since the 1980s due to human impact. Before visiting any ancient ruins, please read the Leave No Trace section on pages 14–20 in this book.

Walk softly when visiting ancient ruins and treat them with the respect they deserve. Begin at the road’s end and follow the trail as it winds through the pinyon-juniper woodland, gradually descending across the mesa top. Please stay on the trail here to avoid crushing the well-developed microbiotic soil crust. After about 250 yards the trail begins a gentle descent above a wooded draw carving into the Cedar Mesa Sandstone. Here the woodland opens up to reveal the shallow upper reaches of Road Canyon below."

Road Canyon Reviews

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This was a great hike but I got differnt milage. The north turnoff to the trail head is close to 6 miles. The seven Kivas Ruin seemed like 2-3 miles instead of 4 miles. Here are my GPS coordinates: Turn off from cig. springs rd (239) N 37 23 16 W 109 52 56 Edge of canyon at drop in: N 37 23 30.4 W 109 50 09.6 Snake grass part of trail N. 37 23 28.2 W109 49 49 Seven Kivas (aprox) N. 37 23 41.2 W 109 49 23
I have hiked all over Cedar Mesa, but this 3-day trip takes the cake. We entered Lime Creek Canyon (LCC) at the head and looped back via Road Canyon (RC). LCC is seldom visited and we saw no one else on this trip. There are many ruins in LCC, but they are difficult to spot. The exit from LCC is via the obvious north tributary a few miles down. Find a spring in the north wall of the main canyon before you meet the trib (may be dry by summer) and get water there if possible. At the end of the trib there is a NW/NE split. Take the NE and find a way to the top (steep and tough with a full pack). Once out of LCC, head N/NE until you hit the road and walk east to the end and camp. Here you get eastern views and a nearby pour-off spring. The next day we took an E/NE bearing from camp and headed to the south tributary of RC. Enter this trib at the westernmost point and immediately follow the narrow sloping ledge right until you can descend a steep rockslide. Bypass a pour-off on the left at the end of the trib. As you ascend RC look for a tall solitary caprock at the end of a narrow peninsula (seen on 7.5-min USGS map). If you want to see the greatest ruin (location-wise) on Cedar Mesa, then that is your objective. Take the west trending trib canyon before the peninsula and find a way to the rim on the steep south wall. Then walk the mesa around the trib to the peninsula and friction down. Walk the narrow rock approach and scramble up to the Citadel Ruin under the caprock. Amazing. Find a narrow crack that takes you to the top of the caprock for the 360 views (careful). There is also a crack that descends to ruins below the Citadel (worthwhile). After camping close-by, we found a steep zigzag descent NW of the peninsula (took hours). It is easier and safer to return to RC the way you came. Seven Kivas Ruin is in RC as is a photogenic ruin near the exit to the trailhead. This eTrail is helpful for the challenging route finding in upper RC. Have fun.

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Trail Information

Mexican Hat
Nearby City
Trail Type
Easy to Moderate
Skill Level
4 hours
Apr through mid-June; Sept through Oct.
Additional Use

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Jul 2018