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The Grandest of Gulches: Back Into Lower Grand Gulch

Cedar Mesa Chronicles: Chapter 11 | Thursday – Sunday, March 21-24, 2024

This week Diane and I took Thursday and Friday off from work so we could meet up with our friend Jared and spend a couple of days backpacking into lower Grand Gulch within the Bears Ears National Monument. While this would be Diane’s first time hiking into this part of Grand Gulch, Jared and I had hiked here about nine years ago and I was really looking forward to the return visit. From the very start of the hike we could tell there was a lot of water in the canyon from recent storms and that it might have even flash flooded recently, but all that water also created a lot of quicksand and mud in the wash that significantly slowed down our progress and forced us to follow brushy deer trails across the benches in many places. The weather during the first three days of our hike was great and the nights even stayed pretty warm, we only encountered wet weather during our final night in the canyon and during the hike back out of Collins Canyon. Here are some photos taken during our four days in Grand Gulch.

Shortly after leaving the trailhead on Thursday morning we stopped to explore an old cowboy camp in a large alcove.

Cowboy Camp Alcove

Cowboy Cache

Cowboy Cache

There was plenty of water in Collins Canyon as we made our way down to Grand Gulch.

Collins Canyon

Collins Canyon II

Collins Canyon Arch

Collins Canyon Arch

Hiking down Grand Gulch while trying to avoid the quicksand along the way…

Down the Gulch

Big Alcove Hiker


Our first night was spent across from the mouth of Rope Canyon.

Rope Canyon Camp

Diane filtering water in the morning.

Filtering Water

Grand Gulch Hiker

Shaw Arch, previously known as Grand Arch.

Grand Arch

This rattlesnake startled me as I climbed up a steep and loose slope into an alcove.


Afternoon Alcove

Afternoon Alcove

A view from our second night’s camp at the mouth of a rincon.

Rincon Camp View

We hiked a little ways up Shangri-La Canyon on the second evening.

Shangri-La Canyon

Shangri-La Clouds

Last Light in Shangri-La Canyon

Last Light in the Canyon

The following morning at our second campsite.

Morning at Camp

Rincon Butte Morning

Rincon Butte Morning

Before heading back up the canyon we went for a hike around the rincon.

Morning Rincon Exploring

Rincon Return

Hiking back up Grand Gulch on our third day…

Lower Grand Gulch


A lovely bend in the canyon and a future rincon.

Grand Gulch Bend

Passing by the mouth of Sphinx Canyon.

Sphinx Canyon Monolith

An evening view from our final campsite at the mouth of Water Canyon.

Water Canyon Evening

Diane stopped in The Narrows during our hike out of lower Grand Gulch.

The Narrows

Graupel and rain began falling from the sky as we started hiking up Collins Canyon on Sunday morning which created many small cascades and waterfalls that flowed down the canyon walls for the rest of our hike out. Here’s a short video clip of a couple small waterfalls and Diane hiking up the canyon.


Rock Art & Ruins of Grand Gulch

Holding Hands Panel

Holding Hands Panel

Red Sheep

Red Sheep

Ledge Panel

Ledge Panel Left

Ledge Panel Middle

Ledge Panel Right

Red Man

Red Man

Big Wall Ruin

Big Wall Ruin

Big Wall Ruin Detail

Collapsing Kiva

Collapsing Kiva

Collapsing Kiva from Below

Arch Pictographs

Colorful Handprints

Spray Paint

Green Hands & Atlatls

Wall of Hands

Wall of Hands

Wall of Hands Pictographs

Grand Gulch Kiva

Big Kiva

Kiva Ladder Poles

The Grand Gallery

Triangle Men

Blue Pictographs

Snake Panel

Three Birds

Grand Gallery


Grand Gallery Pictographs

Mini Granary

Mini Granary


>> The Grandest of Gulches Photo Gallery


  1. Judy Tilley
    Judy Tilley March 29, 2024

    That was amazing! Is the white outline on the bighorn sheep (antelope?) a later addition or part of the painting? Thanks for sharing your travels.

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat March 29, 2024

      Thanks Judy. To be honest, I’m not quite sure what to make of the white outlines on this panel?

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