Dark Canyon
Wilderness / Primitive

Dark Canyon Wilderness Area

Dark Canyon Wilderness Area (above image) is located in San Juan County, Utah, west of Monticello and north of Blanding. Designated in 1984 and managed by the U.S. Forest Service, the 47,116-acre primitive area holds the distinction of being the only designated wilderness in southeastern Utah. The Wilderness Area includes Dark Canyon and its two main tributaries, Peavine and Woodenshoe canyons, plus several Colorado River drainages. With Cedar Mesa sandstone walls soaring up to several thousand feet high and blocking the light from entering the lower canyon throughout much of the day, the 40-mile long Dark Canyon is aptly named. Ten different trailheads, including the popular Sundance Trail, lead into the Wilderness Area from the Elk Ridge Highlands road.

Dark Canyon Wilderness Area’s life zones are diverse, with rocky desert canyons at the lower 4,000-foot elevations, aspen-covered foothills of the Abajo Mountains at around 8,000 feet, and hanging gardens, ancient ponderosa, stone arches, and sheer sculpted sandstone walls in between. The various ecosystems support a variety of wildlife, including snakes, mule deer, elk, wild turkey, cougars, black bears and bighorn sheep. The area was once home to Ancestral Puebloans, whose rock art and dwellings can still be found hidden in the cliffs.

 

The Grand Gulch

Grand Gulch Primitive Area

Grand Gulch Primitive Area is surrounded by southeastern Utah’s most iconic landscape, with Natural Bridges National Monument to the north, Valley of the Gods to the east, and Moki Dugway, Muley Point, and Goosenecks State Park to the southeast. But Grand Gulch is remarkable of its own accord, an outdoor museum of ancient culture and history with the highest natural concentration of Ancestral Puebloan relics and ruins on the Colorado Plateau. Some of the oldest artifacts found in Grand Gulch date back between 200 and 700 A.D. from the Basketmaker nomadic tribes. Grand Gulch was rediscovered in 1880 during the Hole-in-the-Rock expedition, and excavations began the following decade.

Grand Gulch Primitive Area is truly remote, accessible only by foot or pack animal. The most common access points are Kane Gulch and Bullet Canyon. The 23-mile hike between the two canyons reveals ancient cliff dwellings, petroglyphs and pictographs, pottery shards and more. There fragile ruins are protected by the Archeological Resources Protection Act and should not be touched or removed. Visitors are required to register and obtain a permit at the BLM office in Monticello or the Kane Gulch Ranger Station. Grand Gulch Primitive Area can be reached via SR-261 from Mexican Hat and via Highway 95 from Blanding.
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Attractions
Events:

July, 2017

Jul 26, 2017
Starry Nights @ the Canyon Country Discovery Center
Jul 28, 2017 - Jul 29, 2017
Astronomy Program at Natural Bridges National Monument
Jul 29, 2017
Astronomy Program at Hovenweep National Monument

August, 2017

Aug 04, 2017 - Aug 05, 2017
Blue Mountain Enduro Series Mt. Bike Race
Aug 04, 2017 - Aug 12, 2017
San Juan County Fair
Aug 04, 2017 - Aug 05, 2017
Astronomy Program at Natural Bridges National Monument
Aug 05, 2017
Astronomy Program at Hovenweep National Monument
Aug 10, 2017
Collin Raye Concert
Aug 11, 2017 - Aug 12, 2017
Astronomy Program at Natural Bridges National Monument
Aug 12, 2017
Perseids Meteor Shower
Aug 12, 2017
Astronomy Program at Hovenweep National Monument
Aug 18, 2017
Monticello Movies at the Park- Old Yeller
Aug 18, 2017 - Aug 19, 2017
Astronomy Program at Natural Bridges National Monument
Aug 19, 2017
Astronomy Program at Hovenweep National Monument
Aug 21, 2017
Solar Eclipse Viewing Party
Aug 25, 2017 - Aug 26, 2017
Astronomy Program at Natural Bridges National Monument
Aug 26, 2017
Astronomy Program at Hovenweep National Monument
Aug 31, 2017
Utah Symphony- 'Great American Road Trip' Tour

September, 2017

Sep 08, 2017 - Sep 09, 2017
Indian Summer Festival
Sep 09, 2017
5th Annual Blue Mountain Chase Mt. Bike & Road Race
Sep 13, 2017 - Sep 16, 2017
San Juan ATV Safari
Sep 23, 2017
Young Eagles Fly-in

October, 2017

Oct 14, 2017 - Oct 07, 2017
Newspaper Rock 10K Race
Oct 20, 2017 - Oct 22, 2017
Bluff Arts Festival
Oct 28, 2017
Monticello Harvest Festival