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Behind The Rocks

Christmas Weekend | Saturday & Sunday, December 22-23, 2018

After going on a day hike into the backcountry of Arches National Park last Saturday by myself, Diane and I planned a last minute trip to spend this weekend together around Moab. We drove over to Moab on Saturday morning and then went out arch-hunting, hiking, four-wheeling and just generally exploring the Behind The Rocks area west of Spanish Valley for the entire weekend. On Saturday I wanted to revisit a few nice arches that I had not seen since I drove through Pritchett Canyon way back in 2006, plus I wanted to find a few new ones. On Sunday we hiked up Pritchett Canyon from the bottom so we could visit Halls Bridge Arch since we were not able to get down to it from above the day before. The weather on Saturday was very nice with clear blue skies, plenty of sunshine and temperatures in the lower 50’s, while Sunday morning was mostly overcast during most of our hike and a bit colder, too.

We started out the weekend by visiting Balcony Arch at Lone Rock (Prostitute Butte).

Balcony Arch

Then we stopped by Picture Frame Arch on the other side of the same butte.

Picture Frame Arch

After a long bumpy drive we started hiking up the trail to Pritchett Arch.

Pritchett Arch Trail

Diane hikes ahead of me as we went searching for arches.

Arch Hunting

I climbed up for a closer look at Cummings Arch.

Cummings Arch

Then we arrived at the massive Pritchett Arch.

Approaching Pritchett Arch

It has been a long time since I’ve seen this arch from the Pritchett Canyon Trail, and it was very impressive up close.

Pritchett Arch

From Pritchett Arch we hiked across the shallow canyon to see Wigwam Arch. We were unable to climb any closer so this is the best view we could get through it.

Wigwam Arch

Next we set off cross-country to see if we could find a way to Halls Bridge Arch from above. The hike involved crossing a large expanse of colorful sandstone.

Sandstone Bumps

We managed to get to this viewpoint above the arch and then tried to find a way down. We didn’t have any success.

Halls Bridge Below

I bushwhacked my way through a narrow slot canyon to try and reach the arch and got pretty close to the end, but I was stopped by this last 15 foot drop. Even if I had been able to get down this one, it looks like the canyon gets too narrow for me to squeeze through, anyways…

End Of The Line

Since it was getting late in the day and we had a few other plans, we had to give up and hike back across the sandstone to my Jeep at the trailhead.


We made a quick stop to check out Hunter Bridge which was in the shadows at the head of Hunter Canyon. There was also a deep pool carved into the sandstone below this bridge which was filled with water.

Hunter Bridge

Before heading back to town we went on one last hike to visit this unusual and small ruin built on the side of this angled boulder in a large alcove.

Angled Boulder Ruin

It’s an unusual structure and I’ve seen it referred to as a granary or even a burial site since there are human bones inside. It’s certainly not like any granary I’ve ever seen before, so I’d lean toward the latter.

Little Round Ruin

By now it was getting late in the day so it was time to head back to town.

Evening Driving

The La Sal Mountains coming into view as we headed back toward the pavement.


Very nice evening light on the sandstone fins in the foreground and the La Sal Mountains in the background with a fresh coat of snow.

La Sal Mountains

A closer look at Mount Tukuhnikivatz and La Sal Pass.

Behind The Rocks Evening

We took a short spur road to the rim of Kane Springs Canyon just before sunset. Hurrah Pass is located at the upper left.

Kane Springs Canyon

The last light of the day on the La Sal Mountains and the last photo I stopped to take.

La Sal Sunset

Since we were unable to get a close look at Halls Bridge Arch on Saturday, we decided to hike up Pritchett Canyon on Sunday morning to visit it from below.

The sky was mostly overcast this morning as we started up Pritchett Canyon, but a little light did briefly break through the clouds just after sunrise.

Pritchett Light

We passed below Window Arch which is located right above the Rocker Knocker obstacle on the trail.

Window Arch

After following the rugged 4×4 road through Pritchett Canyon we left the road to find the arch.

Cloudy Morning

It would be nice if the BLM would remove these unnecessary signs when they close a section of road…

Dead End

We had no problem reaching Halls Bridge Arch from below and had a pretty nice view.

Halls Bridge Arch

When we were hiking back down the canyon the clouds finally started to clear and the sun came out.

Canyon Wall

Following the road back down Pritchett Canyon.

Pritchett Canyon Road

A nice view as we hiked down the canyon.

Pritchett Canyon

Instead of hiking all the way back down Pritchett Canyon we climbed up a notch into a small canyon between fins to cross over into Kane Creek Canyon.

Crossover Trail

The view between the canyons.

Between Canyons

We passed below Magic Theater Arch.

Magic Theater Arch

On our way down into Kane Creek Canyon we got to revisit a bunch of petroglyphs along the way before we returned to my Jeep and drove back home. It had been a really nice weekend exploring Behind The Rocks!

Sheep Panel

Line Panel

Around The Corner

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One Comment

  1. Dianne
    Dianne December 28, 2018

    I actually wondered if ya’ll went out during this holiday season. I appreciate your tenacity at getting to Halls Bridge Arch. Of course all pics are enjoyed, but I particularly liked seeing the cist or what ever that might have been built for burial. The ancients never cease to perplex or amaze me. And you didn’t let down with the glyphs in the end. I guessed that you had seen some. Nice for two of you so there were four eyes! How fortunate you are to have a mate that enjoys the things you do. My husband of 48 years and I have always moved in different directions. Guess that has kept us together so long. Opposites do attract in some ways. I love your postings, and I wish you two happy four-wheeling and hiking and exploring and photographing for many years in the future. I do think you should consider a book before too long. Your photos stun, exhilarate, educate, please, inform, and I could go on and on. I have been hiking in CM for several days each year with a wonderful guide who knows where to take me that I can go. You are fortunate to be young enough and tenacious enough to get to remote places. I found the Utah part of Four Corners later in life. Aren’t I fortunate!

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