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Lower Main Canyon in the Little Book Cliffs

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Main Canyon Storm
A stormy and beautiful sunset as I hiked back down Main Canyon in the Little Book Cliffs.

I was originally planning to hike to another summit in the Book Cliffs after work this evening, but based on the weather forecast I decided to change my plans and went hiking through Main Canyon within the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area instead. This turned out to be a good choice since I got caught in a couple of fast-moving storms that produced plenty of lightning while I was in the canyon. I ended up hiking almost 4 miles up Main Canyon from the trailhead and then returned the same way, making it back to my Jeep shortly after sunset. I will definitely have to return to finish up the last mile or so in the canyon some other time.

At the trailhead ready to hike over the low divide into Main Canyon.

Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area

Following the trail down into Main Canyon while the sun hid behind some dark clouds.

Over the Divide

Sunlight and clouds over a butte located between Main Canyon and Coal Canyon. My friend Dann has referred to this feature as Cameo Point, though it has no official name.

Cameo Point

The canyon was full of Rabbitbrush that was in bloom.

Flower-Lined Trail

The first of many wild horses I would see this evening. I zoomed in on this one across the canyon.

First Horse

After I rounded a corner on the trail I came upon a group of about a dozen wild horses. These two were right near the trail and ran away when they saw me.

Running Away From Me

The spotlight through the clouds was pretty nice.

Main Canyon Trail

While the canyon was initially dry down lower where I started hiking, after about a mile Jerry Creek was flowing with a trickle of water.

Jerry Creek

Spotlight on the cliff face in the distance with the Grand Mesa in shadow in the background.


After turning around and starting to hike back down the canyon, I got caught in a heavy downpour that got me pretty soaked. I had quickly got over to a shallow alcove so I could get my rain jacket on, but the water soon started to pour over from above and got me wet in there, too. With nowhere else to seek shelter nearby, I continued on down the trail in the rain. The precipitation only lasted about 10 minutes or less, but it was heavy enough to cause a few of the small side washes to start flooding a little. After a couple of minutes the rain turned into hail and the wind picked up considerably. The wind driving the hail into me hurt pretty good! The rain also turned parts of the trail into slick mud for the remainder of the hike, so I had to be a little more cautious on the rest of the way back.

After the storm that got me soaked had passed, I took this shot through the lighter rain that hung around the area for a little while.

Through Rain

The trail that was dry on my way up the canyon had become soaked and muddy on the way back.

Wet Trail

Another mustang I passed on the way out.

Wild Horse

The stormy weather did make for a spectacular sunset!

Rain at Sunset

Warm light, shadows and the almost-full moon! What else could you ask for? Maybe a rainbow…

Moon & Shadow

A closer look at Cameo Point and the moon.

The Moon

Fading light over the wash in Main Canyon. It was a great way to end the evening.

Main Canyon Wash

>> Lower Main Canyon Photo Gallery


    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat September 20, 2016

      I got pretty close to them. They are used to people hiking in this area.

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