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Canaan Mountain: Water Canyon to the White Domes

Southern Utah Wanderings | Tuesday & Wednesday, October 4-5, 2022

After leaving Escalante on Monday evening, making our way over the Paunsaugunt Plateau, and driving past the Coral Pink Sand Dunes in the dark to the Block Mesas, we then started heading north on sandy Jeep roads past Elephant Butte so we could hike into the East Fork of the Virgin River on Tuesday morning. Unfortunately, we ended up running into a number of very washed out sections of the roads that stopped our progress and since it was starting to get late we decided to backtrack a bit and find a campsite for the night. Now we would switch our plans around and hike up Water Canyon onto Canaan Mountain on Tuesday morning instead, and then we would see if we wanted try to find another route to The Barracks afterwards.

We were up before sunrise on Tuesday morning and headed northwest through Colorado City and Hildale to the Water Canyon Trailhead. I was really looking forward to this hike since it’s been on my to-do list for over a decade and I have had to cancel plans to hike here a couple of times over the years- the previous time being when I had my little ‘medical episode‘ last year.

Starting up the sandy trail into Water Canyon.

Into Water Canyon

The brush grew thicker the higher we climbed.

Through The Green

This was certainly the most beautiful and scenic section of Water Canyon.

Water Canyon Morning

Water Canyon Boulders

Water Canyon Morning II

We had to hike up this slippery section, but it wasn’t as bad as it looked.

Shiny Water Canyon

The the canyon opened up into another nice chamber.

Water Canyon Chamber II

From here the trail followed steep narrow ledges as it climbed higher.

Narrow Canyon

Upper Water Canyon was more open as it broke out of the Vermilion Cliffs onto the top of Canaan Mountain.

Upper Water Canyon

After reaching the rim of the canyon we had to drop down into a smaller sandstone wash which we followed toward the White Domes.

Sandstone Wash

Wandering across the Canaan Mountain Wilderness.

Canaan Mountain Wilderness

At the end of the wash there was one more climb up to the top of the ridge.

End of the Wash

The sandstone was looking nice up here and definitely reminded me of the Coyote Buttes area.

Colorful Sandstone Hiking

Going Up

As we neared the top of the ridge we got our first good look at the White Domes on top. We spent a while just wandering around and taking photos…

White Domes View

Red, White & Blue

Red, White & Blue

White Dome

White Wave

White Point

Red & White

Jared on the White Wave

Jared on the White Wave

White Domes

Tree in the Stone

Tree in the Stone

Jared on Top

The White Domes

The White Domes

Lost in the White

Sandstone Knob

Sandstone Knob

There was a nice distant view to Zion National Park to the north from the top of the ridge.

View to Zion

The White Wave

The White Wave

Two Domes

Leaving the White Domes

Just as we were getting ready to head back a few clouds showed up in the sky.

Sandstone & Clouds

Stone Wilderness

Hiking down into the wash on our way back to Water Canyon.

Back to Water Canyon

Starting the descent into Water Canyon.

Water Canyon Walls

Ledge & Pool

Ledge & Pool

I had to take a couple more photos of this part of the canyon since the light was different.

Above The Chamber

Striped Wall

Water Canyon

Back down the Water Canyon Trail.

Water Canyon Trail

Water Canyon View

Water Canyon Arch

Water Canyon Arch


Rock Art of the Vermilion Cliffs

By the time we returned to the trailhead both of us were pretty tired. It was a longer day than we had expected and was pretty warm out under the sun. We needed to take it a bit easier on Wednesday and decided that we would have to skip the East Fork of the Virgin River this time. Instead, we would spend the rest of the evening and the following morning looking for rock art along the Vermilion Cliffs before heading back to Escalante in the afternoon. Here are a couple photos of the rock art we found.

Smithsonian Butte

Smithsonian Butte

Yellow Man

Yellow Man

The Mask

Yellow Man Petroglyphs

Hard To See

Canaan Mountain

Canaan Mountain

Jared got stuck in some soft sand crossing a wash that had recently flooded, but he was able to back out of it.

Soft Sand

Basket Panel

Basket Panel




The Sun Panel

The Sun Panel

Right Sun

Right Side Petroglyphs

Lower Corner Petroglyphs

Sharpening Grooves


These interesting grooves were found above the sharpening grooves.


Canyon View

Canyon View

Small Petroglyph Panel

Follow the Leader

Little Guys

Here’s an interesting petroglyph that appears to be pecked in relief.

In Relief

Big Hand Petroglyph Panel

Big Hand Petroglyph Panel

>> Water Canyon to the White Domes Photo Gallery


  1. Phawnda Moore
    Phawnda Moore October 12, 2022

    So enjoyed this trip! My first view of the White Wave. Utah is just an unfolding stage of beauty and you capture the poetry of the sights. Also, as a calligrapher, your rock art is fascinating.

    Did the Mighty 5 some years ago, where we hiked Zion and Kolob Canyon. I hope you publish a book some time! Thank you for sharing your travels! Phawnda

  2. Susanne Kress
    Susanne Kress October 13, 2022

    Thank you so much, Randy, for sharing your beautiful photos and descriptions of your trips. For sharing the beauty of this overwhelming landscape. And the amazing rock art you find on your way. It‘s always a pleasure to „follow“ you on your hikes. All the best for you and take good care. THANK YOU! Susanne

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