Bullet Canyon |

Grand Gulch

Hiking Bullet Canyon - Grand Gulch Hiking Bullet Canyon
Grand Gulch

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


RATING: Long Dayhike / Easy Backpack
LENGTH: 7-10 hours
MAPS: Cedar Mesa North, UT; Pollys Pasture, UT


41 | 19


50 | 23


48 | 32


48 | 31


50 | 34

View Full Weather Details
SEASON: Fall, Winter, Spring
GEAR: Standard Hiking Gear
WATER: Several Spring in Bullet and at the junction with Grand Gulch


41 | 19


50 | 23


48 | 32


48 | 31


50 | 34

View Full Weather Details
Jailhouse Ruin Window

Jailhouse Ruin Window

Home of the Perfect Kiva Ruin and Jailhouse Ruins, Bullet Canyon is one of the must visit side canyons of Grand Gulch. This is an astounding area dotted with ruins and high canyon walls.

Bullet can be visited as a down and back day hike, but is long (14 miles round trip to the Grand Gulch junction and back), and is better done as a loop up Sheiks Canyon. Just visiting Perfect Kiva and Jailhouse is about 10 miles round trip, while the loop returning via Sheiks is only a few miles more and sees much, much more.

If doing the Bullet/Sheiks loop, it is a long day or very pleasant overnight backpack (permit required, see the Cedar Mesa page for more information). I would recommend down Bullet and up Sheiks. This gets the slog over first, and allows the rest of the trip to be full of ruins and pictographs. Doing the loop requires either 2 cars, a mountain bike, or the willingness to add 3.25 miles to the hike for the shuttle.

Granary below Jailhouse Ruin

Granary below Jailhouse Ruin

Getting There

The trailhead is reached off of highway 261, which runs from near Natural Bridges south to near Mexican Hat.

From the north (highway 95/261 junction) go south about 11 miles to milepost 21.8 and 21.8 miles north of the junction with highway 163 if coming from the south.

  • If you are just visiting Bullet Canyon.
  • At milepost 21.8 (10.3 miles south of the highway 95/261 junction), go west and reset your odometer. ( 12S 594352mE 4143196mN / N37° 25' 51" W109° 56' 01" )
  • 1.1 miles to the Bullet Canyon trailhead. This road should be passable by all vehicles most of the time. There are several decent primitive camping spots near the trailhead, and a pit toilet at the trailhead. ( 12S 592936mE 4143184mN / N37° 25' 51" W109° 56' 58" )
  • If you are doing a loop with Sheiks, the Sheiks trailhead is 2.3 miles north of the Bullet Canyon only side road at milepost 24.1.
  • Reset your odometer as you leave the highway. ( 12S 596058mE 4146688mN / N37° 27' 44" W109° 54' 50" )
  • Follow the road, County road 250 for 3.1 miles to a junction. Go right at this junction. ( 12S 592559mE 4145402mN / N37° 27' 03" W109° 57' 13" )
  • Go right an additional 1.7 miles to the Sheiks Canyon trailhead. The road is generally passable by all vehicles to 1.4 miles, where a rough section will stop many. There is good camping at this rough spot. ( 12S 589930mE 4145176mN / N37° 26' 57" W109° 58' 60" )
  • To get to the Bullet trailhead, go back from the Sheiks Canyon trailhead 1.7 miles to the county road 250/251 junction and go right on 251 for 1.4 miles to the Bullet Canyon trailhead. ( 12S 592937mE 4143182mN / N37° 25' 51" W109° 56' 58" )
Hand prints at Wall Ruin

Hand prints at Wall Ruin


Rock Art and Historic Site Etiquette
Rock art and historic sites are fragile, non-renewable cultural resources that, once damaged, can never be replaced. To ensure they are protected, please:
  • Avoid Touching the Petroglyphs: Look and observe, BUT DO NOT TOUCH!
  • Stay on the Trails: Stay on the most used trails when visiting sites, and don't create new trails or trample vegetation.
  • Photography and Sketching is Allowed: Do not introduce any foreign substance to enhance the carved and pecked images for photographic or drawing purposes. Altering, defacing, or damaging the petroglyphs is against the law -- even if the damage is unintentional.
  • Pets: Keep pets on a leash and clean up after them.
  • Artifacts: If you happen to come across sherds (broken pottery) or lithics (flakes of stone tools), leave them where you see them. Once they are moved or removed, a piece of the past is forever lost.

To Perfect Kiva (about 4.5 miles / 2 hours)
Follow the trail down Bullet Canyon. Rim Ruin becomes visible in less than 20 minutes on the right and is easy to spot from the canyon floor.

Continue down for about 4.5 miles to Perfect Kiva Ruin up a short side drainage on the right.

Perfect Kiva to Grand Gulch (2.5 miles / 1-1.5 hours)
20 - 30 minutes down from Perfect Kiva is Jail House ruin on the right. It can be approached from the right or left.

From Jail House Ruin, you can see two granaries down the canyon on the right. It is about an hour from Jail House to the junction with Grand Gulch. A very good granary is visible (and visitable) on the right about 10-15 minutes up from Grand Gulch.

Grand Gulch to Sheiks (about 3.5 miles / 2 hours)
Heading up Grand Gulch is lush and riparian. Follow the trail as it occasionally crosses the stream. Wall Ruin and a pictograph panel are on the left not far up Grand Gulch. They are just above the stream and hard to miss. The reverse hand prints here are stunning.

From Wall Ruin, it seems easiest to stay on the slickrock bench on the west side and follow it upstream. A surprisingly good ruin is on the left behind an abandoned rincon.

Stay on the bench, meandering around to Cave Ruin. This one is difficult to access and in poor shape. Re-enter the water course here. Just up from Cave Ruin, Sheiks Canyon comes in on the right.

Up Sheiks a few minutes, just before a spring and riparian area, is Green Mask ruins on the left (north side).

Green Mask Ruin to Sheiks Trailhead (3.2 miles / 1.5-2 hours)
Work up Sheiks, staying on the social trails on the left (north). Just above the first bouldery section, a saddle on the left offers a nice viewpoint into Grand Gulch. Keep working up, following a social trail. A dryfall can be passed on the right or left with a little scrambling and marks the end of the steep section. From here Sheiks becomes wider, less steep, and easy going.

Keep your eye out as you head up Sheiks. A granary, or rather a couple of walls of a granary are visible on the left, followed by a very good granary close to the trail. Not far above the good granary are Yellow House Ruins, a well-preserved ruin complete with roof lashings. Stay left here to get around a small fall, and then cross back to the right and the Sheiks Canyon trailhead in 10-20 minutes.


Route - Down and Back Up Bullet / 13.78 miles / Elevation Range 5,370 - 6,407 ft.
Route - Bullet and Sheiks (Shuttle required) / 11.18 miles / Elevation Range 5,370 - 6,407 ft.
Printable Maps:
Bullet TH

12S 592920mE 4143192mN

N37° 25' 51" W109° 56' 59"

Rim View

12S 592107mE 4142862mN

N37° 25' 41" W109° 57' 32"

Perfect Kiva

12S 587734mE 4143712mN

N37° 26' 10" W110° 00' 30"

Jail House

12S 587299mE 4143895mN

N37° 26' 16" W110° 00' 47"

Granary View

12S 587033mE 4143751mN

N37° 26' 11" W110° 00' 58"


12S 585743mE 4144053mN

N37° 26' 22" W110° 01' 51"

Wall Ruin

12S 585250mE 4144868mN

N37° 26' 48" W110° 02' 10"


12S 585692mE 4145077mN

N37° 26' 55" W110° 01' 52"

Cave Ruin

12S 585873mE 4145485mN

N37° 27' 08" W110° 01' 45"

Green Mask Site

12S 586493mE 4145564mN

N37° 27' 10" W110° 01' 19"


12S 588579mE 4145672mN

N37° 27' 13" W109° 59' 55"


12S 588679mE 4145645mN

N37° 27' 12" W109° 59' 50"


12S 589130mE 4145714mN

N37° 27' 14" W109° 59' 32"

Yellow House

12S 589445mE 4145443mN

N37° 27' 06" W109° 59' 19"

Sheiks TH

12S 589930mE 4145184mN

N37° 26' 57" W109° 58' 60"


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