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Happy Canyon & Poison Springs

Friday – Sunday, April 5-7, 2013

After work on Friday I headed back into Utah to meet a few friends in Poison Springs Canyon so that we could hike to Happy Canyon on Saturday and then spend some time visiting a few rock art sites on Sunday. I quickly made it to Hanksville and then to the turn-off for Poison Springs Canyon where I met up with Lisa. Since she was the only one in our group without a high clearance vehicle, she loaded her camping gear into my Jeep and we found a place to leave her car for the weekend. It started to get dark as we drove into the canyon in search of the rest of our party. I was under the impression that they were planning on camping near the Black Jump, but they were nowhere to be found in that area. We took the side road towards the Happy Canyon trailhead and decided just to camp along that road since we couldn’t find anyone else and it was getting pretty dark out by this time. We would search for them in the morning. We quickly setup camp and were soon getting some sleep. I got up early enough on Saturday morning to catch the sunrise.

The early morning sunlight lights up the opposite side of Poison Springs Canyon.

Poison Sunrise

View across the canyon.

Rim Light

Once the sun was up, we had some breakfast and broke down camp so we could try and find the rest of our group. We back-tracked to the main Poison Springs Road and drove all the way to the Dirty Devil crossing. We didn’t see anyone else so we decided to drive over to the trailhead and start the hike on our own. Of course, when we reached the trailhead we found all of their vehicles parked there and they had already started hiking. We quickly caught up with them and found out we had camped only a mile or two from them…oh well. We followed the bench we were on for a few miles and then hiked down to the Dirty Devil River which we needed to cross in order to reach Happy Canyon. Luckily the river wasn’t too high and crossing it was easy.

After crossing the Dirty Devil River to reach the mouth of Happy Canyon we stopped on this ledge to dry off our feet.


Continuing our hike up Happy Canyon.

Almost There

Dave sets up his tripod in the first narrow section we came across.

Happy Dave

Great reflected light…


Marty in the Happy Canyon narrows.

Marty in Happy Canyon

It’s definitely a beautiful canyon to explore…and with none of the crowds that are found in Antelope Canyon!

Into the Light

Detail in the sandstone.

Sandstone Detail

Happy Canyon

After photographing the canyon for a while I caught up with the rest of our group that was resting near the beginning of the narrows. Lisa found the best seat in the house.

Break Time

Rob crosses back across the Dirty Devil on our way back.

Rob Crossing

The rest of our group crosses the very muddy river.

Dirty Devil Crossing

As we hiked back to our Jeeps on the bench high above the river, we were treated to some nice spot-lighting in the canyon below.

Dirty Devil

Our campsite for the night.

Poison Springs Camp

More spotlighting near sunset.


Another nice sunset!

Poison Sunset

On Sunday morning we spent a few hours visiting a few rock art sites that Marty had been to before. We even managed to find a new one.

This is probably my favorite petroglyph that we found all morning.

Snake in Sheep

A few elk petroglyphs.


Dave takes a photo of some petroglyphs on a ledge above me.

Dave & Petroglyphs

Some very faded Barrier Canyon Style pictographs in the back of a very deep and dark cave. It appears that someone outlined them with chalk at some point.

Cave BCS

Marty and Lisa leaving the very colorful cave.

In the Cave

>> Happy Canyon & Poison Springs Canyon Photo Gallery

One Comment

  1. eric peterson
    eric peterson May 2, 2013

    Thanks for the report. I have wanted to do the Poison spring road ,Ford the Dirty Devil and go on into the Maze district. The Sunset campsite at Gunsite Butte is one of our favorites. Do you have comments on Jeeping across DD? It looks Doable in your pics. How is the best way to see Petros and pictos in Happy Cyn? I see Happy Cyn north of where Poison Spring meets the DD on my map, how far is the walk and the slot part of Happy from there? Love your reports.

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