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Woodruff Canyon: The Canyons of Trachyte Creek V

Friday & Saturday, March 1-2, 2024

Over the past four years I have been spending one weekend in early March at the foot of the Henry Mountains exploring the Canyons of Trachyte Creek, so this weekend I headed out to hike down Woodruff Canyon, which is the final named tributary canyon on the west side of Trachyte Creek that I had not hiked yet. Although the weather forecast was calling for very strong winds this weekend, with gusts up to 65MPH, I was hoping that conditions might be a little bit better down in the canyon and decided to take my chances. I left from work on Friday afternoon and headed west into Utah. The wind wasn’t too bad until I passed through Green River and was driving across the San Rafael Desert, where I found blowing sand across the road in a couple of places, but nothing that was unusual for springtime on the Colorado Plateau. I topped off my gas tank in Hanksville and then made my way further south to search for a campsite for the night.

A dusty view toward Factory Butte and Boulder Mountain as I made my way to Hanksville.

Dusty Desert View

Before I started searching for a campsite I went for a scenic evening drive on a road along the foot of Mount Hillers from Black Table Mountain to Starr Springs Campground since I realized I had never driven it before. There was a nice view off to the east along the way.

Evening View

Golden Light on Mount Holmes

Golden Light on Mount Holmes

Although I was originally planning to camp near Woodruff Hole, I wanted to be able to check the weather forecast in the morning before I started hiking, so I ended up camping on the other side of the Little Rockies in the Cane Spring Desert. Surprisingly, it was calm and clear all night and I got a great night of sleep. I woke up early on Saturday morning and the temperature had only dropped down to 43 degrees, so it was kind of perfect camping weather! There was a nice sunrise as I drove over to Woodruff Hole and started hiking down Woodruff Canyon from there.

Mount Hillers Morning

Mount Hillers Morning

Morning light on the Henry Mountains.

Henry Mountains Morning

I started hiking down the gravelly wash into Woodruff Canyon from the highway.

Woodruff Canyon Morning

Hiking Down Woodruff Canyon

After bushwhacking though an overgrown section of the canyon on cow trails, the creek continued to flow though the lovely lower portion of the canyon.

Boulder-Strewn Creek

Woodruff Canyon Creek

Woodruff Canyon Creek

The reflected light was looking nice this morning in the shaded bends of the canyon.

Woodruff Canyon

Along Woodruff Creek

Woodruff Canyon Bend

I even caught a few sunstars along the way…

Woodruff Canyon Sunstar

Downstream Woodruff Canyon

Canyon Curve

As the canyon neared its confluence with Trachyte Creek it started cutting a deeper channel into the sandstone.

Lower Woodruff Canyon

I was stopped by cliffs about a quarter mile from Trachyte Creek, which was expected since I had tried to hike up the canyon on a previous trip. Although there is a bypass, it was a bit too much for me to climb down. After exploring the area further, I turned around and started heading back up canyon.

Lower Woodruff Canyon

A large pothole at the bottom of a small side canyon.

Side Canyon Pothole

Back Up the Canyon

Woodruff Canyon

On the way back I took a short detour and hiked a little ways up Woody Canyon. There was a lot of sand in this canyon and every time the wind picked up it would blow it all around.

Exploring Woody Canyon

Woody Canyon narrowed up into a nice slot before ending at a pourover.

Woody Canyon

Just lovely light in this part of the canyon.


Woody Canyon

Woody Canyon II

I visited one other short slot canyon on my way back to the trailhead.

Little Slot

Little Slot Sunstar

Little Slot Sunstar

Shortly before returning to my Jeep I could see that the incoming cold front was finally arriving over the top of the Henry Mountains.

Incoming Cold Front

By the time I reached my Jeep the sun was blocked out by the clouds and the temperature was starting to drop. I decided to head into Hanksville for a late lunch so I could check the weather and figure out what I wanted to do for the rest of the day. By the time I finished lunch the sun was out again, but the wind was now blowing fiercely and kicking up dust and sand all over the place. Still, I thought I would return to the base of the Little Rockies for a short hike into Milk Creek.

Here’s a short video clip of me driving through the sandstorm just south of Hanksville.

Luckily, the wind wasn’t near as bad as I dropped down into the shallow canyon that was carved by Milk Creek.

Milk Creek

It’s a lovely little canyon.

Milk Creek

Milk Creek

Milk Creek

Milk Creek Narrows

Milk Creek Narrows

Milk Creek Narrows

Leaving Milk Creek

With the weather forecast calling for strong winds and snow overnight, I decided to head home after leaving Milk Creek since I already had a pretty great day in the Canyons of Trachyte Creek!

>> Woodruff Canyon & Milk Creek Photo Gallery


  1. Judy Tilley
    Judy Tilley March 4, 2024

    Beautiful light for a grand adventure. Thank you for sharing this golden canyons. Living in the Pacific Northwest, we have green and more green. And, too many people. We hope to get to Utah in late April to do some exploring and rockhound.

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