Tumbleweed Canyon |

Henry Mountains

Hiking Tumbleweed Canyon - Henry Mountains Hiking Tumbleweed Canyon
Henry Mountains

Overview | Getting There | Route | Photos | Maps | Comments

Overview

RATING: Short Hike / Moderate down climbs
LENGTH: 1 hour
MAPS: STEAMBOAT POINT, UT

Sat

93 | 71

Sun

92 | 70

Mon

89 | 70

Tue

91 | 69

Wed

92 | 70

View Full Weather Details
SEASON: Fall, Winter, Spring (Hot in summer)
GEAR: Standard Hiking Gear
WATER: Generally none. Possibly a couple of shallow pools after recent rain.

Sat

93 | 71

Sun

92 | 70

Mon

89 | 70

Tue

91 | 69

Wed

92 | 70

View Full Weather Details
The Henry Mountains and lower part of Tumbleweed Canyon

The Henry Mountains and lower part of Tumbleweed Canyon

Between the Henry Mountains and Fremont River lays a barren landscape of Mancos shale. The grey scenery is reminiscent of a lunar landscape. As water tumbles down from the Henries through the badlands, it cuts through a Ferrone Sandstone layer. The white sandstone is hard and erodes into very sculpted walls. When Diane, Ruby and I headed out to check out the one small canyon in that area, I was intrigued at what we might find.

The canyon is short, but interestingly sculpted. I would have really enjoyed it except for one feature. The canyon was utterly FULL of tumbleweeds! I have never seen quantities of tumbleweed like that in a canyon. Fortunately, the canyon is short, and after the first couple of downclimbs, it was possible to avoid the worst of the thorny beasts. I suspect heavy summer rains flush the canyon out, while long, windy dry spells cause it to re-fill with tumbleweeds.

This is not a destination canyon but is a lovely place to wander if you want to get away from the world. We saw cows, but not much else in the area. The first major downclimb in the canyon is tricky and will likely require teamwork. A drop of 2 or 3 meters (7-8 ft) yields well to a partner assist. If it is too intimidating, it is easy enough to loop around and visit the canyon from the bottom.

Diane wondering what I got her into...

Diane wondering what I got her into...

The short and surprisingly deep Tumbleweed Canyon

The short and surprisingly deep Tumbleweed Canyon

Getting There

The road QUICKLY becomes impassable when wet. Do not head out to this area if rain is in the forecast, or if warmer temps may thaw frozen roads.

Access requires driving across the Fremont River, which is generally quite low. After recent heavy rains or for a brief time during spring run-off, the crossing may be impossible. Current flow is available at USGS ( https://waterdata.usgs.gov/monitoring-location/09330000/#parameterCode=00065 ) At 80 CFS, it was easily passable in Subaru type vehicles. Likely passable up to 100 CFS or a bit more depending on the vehicle.

Reaching the trailhead starts in the ghost town of Giles. This is about 7.5 miles west of Hanksville on UT-24, or about 40 miles east of Torrey on UT-24. At milepost 106.9 is the turn off on the south side of UT-24. This is signed Giles/Blue Valley.

  • Mile Post 106.9 - Turn south off the highway and reset your odometer. ( 12S 510999mE 4245672mN / N38° 21' 33" W110° 52' 27" )
  • 500' - River Ford. This is generally shallow, but can be impassable during very high spring run-off or after heavy rains. Inspect before crossing. ( 12S 510981mE 4245540mN / N38° 21' 29" W110° 52' 28" )
  • 1.6 miles - Juncition to Blue Valley (Private) just after Steamboat Point. Stay right, the road now heads south. There are a few side roads during this next section. Always stay on the main dirt road, ignoring the minor side roads. ( 12S 512743mE 4245157mN / N38° 21' 16" W110° 51' 15" )
  • 10.1 miles - Major junction. Right goes to Lost Spring. Go left., which heads east. ( 12S 512710mE 4233736mN / N38° 15' 06" W110° 51' 17" )
  • 12.25 miles - Two track on the right that heads south. Go right, on this two track. This is just before the road descends near Bert Avery seep. ( 12S 515192mE 4235649mN / N38° 16' 08" W110° 49' 35" )
  • 13.1 miles - Minor side road on the right. Stay left. ( 12S 515076mE 4234261mN / N38° 15' 23" W110° 49' 40" )
  • 13.5 miles - Park here, at a non-descript spot. Tumbleweed Canyon is the drainage visible just to the east. ( 12S 515170mE 4233686mN / N38° 15' 04" W110° 49' 36" )
So many tumbleweeds....

So many tumbleweeds....

Lovely lines in Tumbleweed Canyon

Lovely lines in Tumbleweed Canyon

Route

From the trailhead, walk east dropping down into the obvious drainage. Once in the drainage bottom, it is just a minute or two down the wash to where the sandstone layer is exposed and the start of the canyon.

The canyon starts quickly with a sizeable downclimb into a shallow rocky pothole. This is the toughest downclimb of the day, by far. Teamwork can help. Going down feet first on your belly with a hand from above is likely the easiest for those that want help. One down the first obstacle, the canyon cuts a sinuous path into the sandstone with a few more minor downclimbs. You may find small pools here after recent rains.

All-to-soon the canyon begins to widen. Follow it down. A short spur comes in on the left. This makes a quick exit. Continuing down canyon work around and through some boulders to a rubble filled slope on the right that makes the best exit in my opinion. From the top of the exit, it is easy to rim walk back up to the head of the slot. Those with more motivation may want to wander down canyon a bit. There is a final exit on the left, then easier walking in a more wide-open canyon.


Maps

Route / 0.68 miles / Elevation Range 0 - 0 ft.
Printable Maps:
Trailhead

12S 515170mE 4233686mN

N38° 15' 04" W110° 49' 36"

Slot

12S 515280mE 4233854mN

N38° 15' 09" W110° 49' 31"

Short Exit

12S 515252mE 4233945mN

N38° 15' 12" W110° 49' 32"

Exit

12S 515261mE 4234095mN

N38° 15' 17" W110° 49' 32"

Alt Exit

12S 515180mE 4234053mN

N38° 15' 16" W110° 49' 35"

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