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Dark Canyon Wilderness Area

Type
Other Public Lands

Dark Canyon Wilderness Area 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.

Paved access from Monticello, Blanding, and Utah Highway 95. Graded gravel and native surface roads on the mountain itself.

  • Adjacent to Dark Canyon Primitive Area managed by the BLM
  • Back-country experience for seasoned hikers
  • No Services

Harts Draw Road
Paved loop drive from Monticello to Utah Highway 211 and access to Canyonlands National Park. Through aspen groves and pine forests with sweeping views

Campgrounds
All are accessible to all vehicles.
Reservations: 877-444-6777
Ranger Programs

  • Dalton Springs
  • Buckboard
  • Devil's Canyon
  • Nizhoni

Hiking
Many well marked and maintained hiking trails of varying difficulty are accessible via graded gravel and native surface roads. Contact the San Juan County Visitor Center for detailed information at 800-574-4386.

Type
Other Public Lands