Utah Canyon Hiking

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Last weekend I accompanied my two boys and a group of scouts on a trip to the Goblin Valley area of Utah’s canyon country. We had a great time. We camped on BLM land just outside the park. It was a very cold evening with temperatures in the mid 30’s with strong winds. We didn’t linger too long around the campfire. Once inside our tent and out of the wind we were cozy for the night.

Since we were car camping we brought a bigger, more comfortable tent.
Since we were car camping we brought a bigger, more comfortable tent.
The area where we camped.
The area where we camped.

After breakfast we drove out toward the park, then down to the Little Wild Horse Canyon trailhead. There were way too many cars in the parking lot, so we headed a mile and half down the wash to Ding and Dang Canyon parking area. These canyons are shorted than Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyons, but are a bit more technical, meaning a bit more scrambling. They are not technical in the sense that you need climbing equipment.

We hiked up Ding Canyon, then down Dang. It is about 5 miles for the round trip and took us several hours. We had several small boys that needed help in places and there were some bottlenecks where we had to wait for other parties. This is a very popular and accessible are so it sees lots of traffic in the spring when it is still cool.

Heading into Ding Canyon
Heading into Ding Canyon
Finn hiking up Ding Canyon.
Finn hiking up Ding Canyon.

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Ding Canyon presented few difficulties, just some mellow scrambling in places. At the top of the canyon we stopped for a lunch break.

The view from the top of Ding Canyon.
The view from the top of Ding Canyon.
The hippest canyon hiker of the day.
The hippest canyon hiker of the day.

Dang Canyon was where the fun really began with lots of interesting scrambling. At some places we had to take a little time to figure out the best and safest way down. Most of the difficulties consisted of pour offs that we either down climbed or skirted around on the cliff edges, or chockstones that had to be negotiated.

Heading down Dang Canyon.
Heading down Dang Canyon.
Some down climbed and others traversed the cliff wall.
Some down climbed and others traversed the cliff wall.
Beautiful sandstone.
Beautiful sandstone.

The crux of the hike was a section where the canyon walls narrowed to about four feet with waist deep, cold muddy water in the bottom. You start by climbing over a large chockstone, then with your back against one wall and your feet against the opposite wall you walk yourself down about 5 or 6 feet, then start traversing down the canyon. After about 30 or 40 feet it widens and you need to put your feet outstretched against one wall and your arms outstretched and hands against the other wall. You “walk” like this for another 30 or 40 feet to the end. It was quite fun, but a real challenge for my youngest son, 12 years old, as it was a big stretch for him. But he managed to make it all the way across.

Lars stretching it out.
Lars stretching it out.
Finn at the beginning of the traverse.
Finn at the beginning of the traverse.
In the wider section
In the wider section

After one more shorter stretch over water things mellowed out, first with some nice narrows and flat ground, then the canyon opened up.

Lars leading the way.
Lars leading the way.
Canyon opening up
Canyon opening up
Hiking out the sandy wash
Hiking out the sandy wash

The canyon country of southern Utah is truly spectacular. I have not spent a great deal of time down there, but every time I go I vow to spend more time in the desert and canyon country. There is something about those deep sandstone canyons that draws you in. It is a little more challenging to spend time there as the summer months are out as it is simply too hot. The best times to go are the spring and fall.

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