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Salt Wash: Lost Spring Canyon to Cordova Canyon

Arches National Park | Saturday, April 23, 2022

Recently I realized that it’s been a while since I last explored the backcountry of Arches National Park and I was definitely overdue for a return. After a winter hike down Lower Salt Wash Canyon a couple years ago I’ve been interested in exploring the upper reaches of Salt Wash and a recent Trip Report from Dennis finally gave me the motivation I needed to get back out to that area. I was all set to leave after work on Friday afternoon like I usually do, but a storm system was moving through the area with very strong winds and rain, so I decided to stay home overnight and then leave early in the morning since I wasn’t travelling far from home this weekend. After a good night of sleep I woke up early on Saturday morning, grabbed a quick breakfast and headed west into Utah.

The sun was just coming up as I followed the Yellow Cat Road to The Poison Strip.

Morning Light

Yellow Cat Road

I was hoping the constant strong winds overnight would help dry the roads out quickly from the rain, but they were still a little muddy this morning, but not nearly as bad as they could’ve been.

Muddy Roads

The sun came out as I drove across The Highlands to the edge of Salt Wash and I was glad that I got an early start this morning since it was a lovely drive.

A Morning Drive

It was still a bit breezy out when I started hiking down into the canyon and it was much cooler out than it had been the previous week, which was perfect weather for a long hike!

Side Canyon View

This is a view across Salt Wash to Devils Garden on the horizon. If you look closely you can pick out Landscape Arch and Dark Angel.

Arches National Park

The storm was still clearing out this morning and the clouds were looking great which complimented the amazing sandstone of upper Salt Wash nicely and made for a very beautiful and enjoyable hike.

Side Canyon II View

Sandstone Exploring

Sandstone & Clouds

An inscription left by Delbert Taylor in 1927.

Delbert Taylor, 1927

Canyon Morning

Canyon Clouds

Canyon Spire

Salt Wash

Salt Wash Morning

After casually hiking downstream and taking a lot of photos along the way, I soon reached the confluence with Lost Spring Canyon.

Canyon Confluence

Across The Wash

From Lost Spring Canyon I hiked downstream about another mile before I was cut off by the deep arroyo and didn’t feel like finding a way across, so I turned around here.

Canyon Fin

Of course, I took more photos on the way back as I explored some of the side pockets.

Talking Heads

Valley View

Back to the Confluence

I passed by these two axle joints on the way back up the canyon. The things you find in the desert!

Axle Joints

This formation reminded me of a smaller version of the Washer Woman in Canyonlands National Park near Mesa Arch.

Little Washer Woman

I made a short detour on the way back and did a little exploring in Clover Canyon, which was a bit of a bushwhack at times, but a very scenic canyon.

Clover Canyon Wall

Clover Canyon

Then I continued up to Cordova Canyon which had plenty of flowing water.

Cordova Canyon Pool

A large alcove in Cordova Canyon.

Cordova Alcove

Cordova Canyon Clouds

There were also a lot of seeps in this canyon.

Seeps & Stains

Walking along striped canyon walls as I hiked back up to the trailhead.

Canyon Stripes

After having a late lunch I decided to drive over to Winter Camp Ridge to check on the only geocache I have ever hidden, since I was in the area.

Winter Camp Ridge Road

Yep, it’s still there and in good shape!



Westwater Canyon Overlook & Little Hole

After leaving Winter Camp Ridge I drove back towards Colorado to the edge of the Westwater Canyon Wilderness Study Area. My original plan was to find somewhere to camp tonight and then hike out to an overlook of Westwater Canyon and into Little Hole on Sunday morning before heading home. However, when I arrived I still had over four hours until sunset and didn’t want to just sit around doing nothing, so I decided to hike to the overlook this afternoon since my legs weren’t feeling tired yet.

It had become a lot more cloudy during my drive over here, but there was still a bit of spotlighting in Star Canyon as I started hiking to the rim of Westwater Canyon.

Star Canyon Over Big Hole

It looked like there was even a good rainstorm across the Grand Valley over by the Book Cliffs.

Storm Across the Valley

The hike didn’t take long and about thirty minutes later I was standing at the edge of Westwater Canyon overlooking Bowling Alley Rapid and Sock-it-to-Me Rapid.

Westwater Canyon Overlook

Westwater Canyon Below

Looking the other direction I had a good view of Skull Rapid and the Room of Doom.

Westwater Canyon Bend

Westwater Canyon

I found these potholes full of water at the edge of Big Hole and Trail Canyon during my hike back.


At this point I still had about two hours until sunset, so I figured I might as well hike down into Little Hole this evening, too.

Little Hole

I returned to my Jeep shortly before sunset and had now hiked everything I wanted to this weekend, so I decided to just head home and have a lazy Sunday around the house, which is something I don’t do very often.

Heading Home


Petroglyphs Found Along the Way

These are a couple photos of the petroglyph panels I found during my hikes today.

Exit Route Panel

Exit Route Petroglyph Panel

It’s too bad the light wasn’t great on this one while I was there because I found it pretty interesting. I may need to return to this one sometime for a better photo!

Big Circle Panel

Sheep on a Boulder

Boulder Petroglyphs

This is an unusual zoomorph.

Unusual Little Petroglyph

Little Elk Petroglyph

Little Elk Petroglyph

>> Upper Salt Wash Canyon & Westwater Canyon Photo Gallery

One Comment

  1. SteveR
    SteveR April 26, 2022

    Nothing wrong with a lazy Sunday. Especially after such a rewarding Saturday! As always- fine photography on this, and all of the latest series of reports. The Maze in particular caught my eye with great captures of the interesting terrain. It has been on the to-do list for far too long.

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