Butler Canyon & Marinus Canyon | Saturday & Sunday, December 2-3, 2023
This weekend I decided to make my way back down into the Canyons of North Wash so I could continue what I had started last December when I spent a weekend hiking and exploring new-to-me canyons in the area. I left from home bright and early on Saturday morning and drove west on icy roads shrouded in fog until I reached the Utah state line where conditions began to improve. After a brief stop for gas in Green River I turned south and drove across the San Rafael Desert to Hanksville and then continued on to Three Forks, where North Wash, Butler Canyon and Stair Canyon all come together. An added benefit of driving south of Hanksville on Highway 95 at sunrise is being able to watch the first light of the day strike the Henry Mountains, and they put on a great show this morning so I just had to stop for a couple photos along the way!
The Henry Mountains at Dawn
Road to the Henry Mountains
Mount Ellen Peak
Cliffs & Mountains
Once I reached the trailhead at Three Forks it was time to get out the the Jeep and start hiking. Since I had hiked up Stair Canyon last year, this time I planned to start my day with a hike up Butler Canyon and maybe head up the West Fork of Butler Canyon if I had the time and energy.
As I looked up at the sandstone point above Three Forks the clouds were nice and promising, but they wouldn’t end up sticking around for very long.
I shouldered my pack and started hiking up Butler Canyon. The temperature was in the upper 20’s this morning which felt pretty nice in the sun.
Here are a couple morning views from lower Butler Canyon.
When I reached the second major fork in the canyon, after passing by the West Fork, I went up the eastern fork and climbed up to a ridge overlooking the canyon and surrounding terrain.
Then I continued up the main branch of the canyon thinking I would probably get stopped by an impassable obstacle pretty soon…
The reflected light was looking nice in this section of the canyon.
It wasn’t too long until I reached this pourover that had a nice sculpted arch in the sandstone below. The arch might look small in this photo, but the opening was about 5-6 feet tall.
I found a bypass that climbed up and around the pourover with the arch, so I continued hiking up the canyon…
I enjoyed the scenery in the upper parts of Butler Canyon, but after hiking about seven or eight miles I still had not reached any obstacles that stopped me, so I finally turned around and began heading back down the canyon.
Butler Canyon Sunstar
I passed underneath this large hoodoo shortly before returning to Three Forks.
After a little bit of a rest I decided to wander up Casablanca Canyon to see how far I could get.
That dryfall ahead of me in this photos is how far I made it, but even if I had been able to climb up it I would have been stopped by a huge pourover just beyond.
There was still some daylight left, so I headed over to Sandthrax Canyon so I could at least hike to the end of the narrow slot canyon.
That’s the end of the Sandthrax Slot Canyon.
There’s no way I could even think about squeezing into there, and just thinking about it made me feel a little claustrophobic.
I also wandered up Blarney Canyon until I was stopped by another narrow slot canyon that I couldn’t find away around.
Evening Light in North Wash
As the light was fading, I drove over to Cedar Point and watched the sunset near Turkey Knob.
When the sun dipped behind the mountains I headed back to Hanksville to grab some dinner and top off my gas tank. Then I found a spot to camp on Halfway Bench where I figured it wouldn’t get too cold overnight. I was right about that since it only dropped down to 36 degrees overnight and I had used my zero degree sleeping bad which was way too warm. On Sunday morning I drove back into North Wash so I could hike up Marinus Canyon before heading home.
Although the light in the lower end of Marinus Canyon was not looking good this morning, as soon as I hiked up into the smaller East Fork the scenery and light improved.
East Fork of Marinus Canyon
After hiking about 3.5 miles from the mouth of the canyon, I reached a small pourover that prevented me from going further up the East Fork.
This green pool was just below the pourover.
The light seemed a little better as I hiked back down the canyon.
I had hoped to continue hiking further up the main fork of Marinus Canyon next, but after scrambling and climbing over constant jumbles of large boulders that filled the canyon, I could see no end to them, so I gave up and headed back down. It had been another nice weekend exploring the canyons of North Wash and I’m looking forward to anther visit next winter!