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.
The brush grew thicker the higher we climbed.
This was certainly the most beautiful and scenic section of Water Canyon.
We had to hike up this slippery section, but it wasn’t as bad as it looked.
The the canyon opened up into another nice chamber.
From here the trail followed steep narrow ledges as it climbed higher.
Upper Water Canyon was more open as it broke out of the Vermilion Cliffs onto the top of Canaan Mountain.
After reaching the rim of the canyon we had to drop down into a smaller sandstone wash which we followed toward the White Domes.
Wandering across the Canaan Mountain Wilderness.
At the end of the wash there was one more climb up to the top of the ridge.
The sandstone was looking nice up here and definitely reminded me of the Coyote Buttes area.
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…
Red, White & Blue
Jared on the White Wave
Tree in the Stone
The White Domes
There was a nice distant view to Zion National Park to the north from the top of the ridge.
The White Wave
Just as we were getting ready to head back a few clouds showed up in the sky.
Hiking down into the wash on our way back to Water Canyon.
Starting the descent into Water Canyon.
Ledge & Pool
I had to take a couple more photos of this part of the canyon since the light was different.
Back down the Water Canyon Trail.
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.
Jared got stuck in some soft sand crossing a wash that had recently flooded, but he was able to back out of it.
The Sun Panel
These interesting grooves were found above the sharpening grooves.
Here’s an interesting petroglyph that appears to be pecked in relief.
Big Hand Petroglyph Panel