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The Canyons of North Wash

Stair Canyon, Lucky Charms, Sandthrax Slickrock & Hog Canyon
Saturday & Sunday, December 17-18, 2022

Earlier this year as I stood near the rim of Hog Canyon on Trachyte Point overlooking the sandstone wilderness that North Wash cuts through, I realized I had not done much hiking in this area and I made it one of my goals to get back to start exploring North Wash and it’s side canyons later this year. Coming from Grand Junction, I rarely have a reason to drive through North Wash to get anywhere I’m going in southern Utah since it’s out of my way, so I have only driven through this canyon a couple of times over the years. Most of those times were after exiting The Maze to Hite, and by that time I was usually in a hurry to get home and didn’t have any extra time to make additional stops along the way. Aside from stopping at a couple rock art sites near the road and going on one short hike up Leprechaun Canyon with Diane a couple years ago, I have done nothing else in North Wash and was looking forward to finally checking it out!

I only wanted to camp one more night this year so I could reach an even 75 nights and get at least one night in this December, so I took a break from the long cold nights of winter and didn’t leave right from work on Friday like I usually. Instead, I left home bright an early on Saturday morning, topped off my gas tank in Hanksville and drove past the Henry Mountains at sunrise on my way to North Wash. I had purposely planned this trip for the winter when North Wash would hopefully be less busy since this area is very popular with canyoneers, and I think the timing worked out pretty well since I didn’t see anyone else in North Wash and the side canyons that I explored. Even traffic on the highway through the canyon was very light.

I was driving past the Henry Mountains at sunrise, so I had to stop for a couple of photos.

Henry Mountains Morning

Henry Mountains Morning II

After reaching Three Forks, where North Wash, Butler Canyon and Stair Canyon all meet up, I parked my Jeep and started hiking up Stair Canyon with the temperature hovering just slightly above the single digits. It was cold enough out that my water bottle started slushing up after hiking up the canyon for a couple of miles.

The light in the canyon wasn’t that nice at first, but after a couple of miles the canyon narrowed up a bit and the sun got higher in the sky and the scenery took on a whole new look!

Stair Canyon Morning

Shallow Narrows

Canyon Boulders

I hiked just a bit further than this narrow section of the canyon where I reached a dryfall that I could not climb up, so that became my turnaround point.

Stair Canyon Narrows

The light was even better on the way back down the canyon!

Canyon Sunstar

Sandstone Floor

Stair Canyon Sandstone

Canyon Pool

Canyon Cut

There was a lot of tafoni, solution pockets and ‘ghoul walls’ in this canyon.

Canyon Wall

Canyon Bend

Tall Canyon Wall

Canyon Bottom

Stair Canyon Wall

Stair Canyon Sunstar

Stair Canyon

Tornado Arch

Tornado Arch

After returning to my Jeep I decided to go on a bit of a drive to the top of Poison Point and Cedar Point above the head of Stair Canyon.

Poison Benchmark

From the edge of Cedar Point a had great view over the Dirty Devil River to Buckacre Point and The Big Ridge.

Dirty Devil Country

There was also a nice view up Hatch Canyon to Gunsight Butte and Sunset Pass.

Gunsight Butte

After returning down into North Wash I went on a short hike into Lucky Charms Canyon, which was falling into the shadows as I arrived.

Falling Into the Shadows

Two Tone

Two Tone

Although it’s a pretty short canyon, the lines and colors of this little slot canyon were very nice.

Lucky Charms

Lucky Charms II

Passage of Light

Leaving Lucky Charms

Leaving Lucky Charms

For my last hike of the day I explored the sandstone above Sandthrax Canyon and hiked up to an overlook above the West Fork of Butler Canyon.

Sandthrax Slickrock

Slickrock Wandering

Candy Striped

Candy Striped

From the highpoint at the end of my hike I had a great view over the sandstone wilderness in all directions.

Sandstone Wilderness

Sandstone Wilderness II

Sandthrax Canyon

Sandthrax Canyon

An Evening on the Sandstone

I returned to my Jeep shortly before sunset and then headed off in search of a campsite for the night. Although I could have camped nearby, I wanted to find a spot outside the bottom of the canyon where I hoped it would stay a little warmer overnight. This was a good choice because my campsite on Cedar Point only dropped down to 25 degrees overnight, but when I returned to North Wash on Sunday morning it was around 11 degrees.

Since I had camped above North Wash on Saturday night, that meant I got to watch another sunrise on the Henry Mountains Sunday morning.

The Henry Mountains at Dawn

Mount Pennell

Mount Pennell Morning

My second Henry Mountains sunrise this weekend. I’m looking forward to returning next summer.

Second Henry Mountains Sunrise

Ragged Mountain

Ragged Mountain

For my final hike of the weekend, I walked across the suspension bridge at the Hog Springs Recreation Area and then continued up Hog Canyon.

Suspension Bridge

There was a lot of ice in the canyon and flowing water, too.

Icy Creek

My turnaround point was the pool and waterfall about a mile up the canyon.

Hog Canyon Waterfall

Hog Canyon Pool Reflection

I climbed up above the waterfall for a view into upper Hog Canyon.

Upper Hog Canyon

Up a nearby fork of the canyon there was another smaller pool with a frozen waterfall.

Pool & Ice



Icy Pool

Icy Pool

I returned to North Wash at the mouth of Hog Canyon and then started my drive back home. I had a great time exploring the canyons of North Wash this weekend and am looking forward to returning again to do more of the same in the future!

Hog Canyon


Rock Art of North Wash

As I explored the canyons of North Wash I came across some rock art along the way, so here are a couple photos I took of the petroglyphs and pictographs I saw.

Long-Legged Sheep

Long-Legged Sheep

Fremont Figure

Fremont Figure II

That’s an interesting figure on the left?

North Wash Petroglyphs

These little guys were probably my favorites.

Little Guys

This is a very large and interesting panel, but it’s so hard to see and photograph!

Big Hunter Panel

Hard-to-See Petroglyphs

A Fremont figure between the stripes.

Fremont Figure

Of course, no trip to North Wash is complete without a quick stop to visit the Moqui Queen!

Moqui Queen

The Moqui Queen

>> The Canyons of North Wash Photo Gallery


  1. P Bergh
    P Bergh December 20, 2022

    nice! thanks

  2. Thomas
    Thomas December 20, 2022

    When you’re camping at this time of year are you pitching a tent or sleeping in your jeep?

  3. jim
    jim December 20, 2022

    It would be nice to know the type of sandstone your pictures are when you know. I know you do sometimes. I think most of the sandstone in this post is Navajo.

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat December 20, 2022

      Yes, Navajo on top and Wingate below, Kayenta between. I usually know or have an idea, but don’t really feel it’s something I need to put in my blog most of the time since I’m no geology expert.

  4. Hildred Neilson
    Hildred Neilson December 20, 2022

    Thank You

  5. SteveR
    SteveR December 20, 2022

    Nice! That upper slickrock area above Butler makes for a great leg stretcher to break up a a trip on 95.

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