Middle Fork |

Robbers Roost

Canyoneering Middle Fork - Robbers Roost Canyoneering Middle Fork
Robbers Roost

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


LENGTH: 4-7 hours


98 | 62


98 | 65


99 | 64


100 | 67


96 | 66

View Full Weather Details
SEASON: Spring, Fall, Hot in Summer
GEAR: Standard Technical Gear
RAPPELS: 1 to 50 m ( 165 ft. )
WATER: Generally none.
FLASHFLOOD: Moderate / Low


98 | 62


98 | 65


99 | 64


100 | 67


96 | 66

View Full Weather Details

Middle Fork of Robbers Roost is a hike with a rappel, not really a canyoneering adventure. Unlike its more technical neighbors, Mindbender and the South Fork of Robbers Roost, this route has a single 50 m rappel early on, then is mostly a deep walled canyon hike with few obstacles.

The route goes up and out the Moki Exit, shared with Mindbender Canyons, back to the mesa top. Those looking for a little longer adventure can start at the top of the Middle Fork (long route), as it meanders through a couple of narrow slot sections in the Navajo layer before reaching the first rappel.

WARNING: The exit out of this canyon requires some unprotected 5.5 climbing (10 m ( 33 ft. )). Although relatively easy, this is not recommended for beginners. Climbers and advanced canyoneers should have no problem.

If you have concerns, it is possible to place a rope on the exit from above before doing the canyon. Finding the spot is moderately difficult from above, but with good map skills it is reasonable to do. (Reverse the exit description, following the map closely.) If doing this option, take a 20 m ( 66 ft. ) rope to leave.

Shuttle: Two vehicles can reduce about 2 miles of road walking. Without a shuttle vehicle, the road is an easy/fast walk.

Getting There

Head south from Interstate 70 on highway 24 toward Hanksville.

  • Turn left (east) onto a signed, graded road at mile post 135.5 and reset your odometer. ( 12S 537332mE 4275067mN / N38° 37' 24" W110° 34' 16" )
  • Follow this two-wheel-drive graded dirt road for 24.5 miles to an obvious junction with an information kiosk. Reset your odometer at this junction and go right. ( 12S 562756mE 4258500mN / N38° 28' 21" W110° 16' 50" )
  • Travel 7 miles to another prominent junction, and go right. ( 12S 560687mE 4247916mN / N38° 22' 39" W110° 18' 19" )
  • Go right again in less than 0.1 miles. Reset your odometer. ( 12S 560644mE 4247820mN / N38° 22' 35" W110° 18' 21" )
  • 6.1 miles Stay right on the main road. Left goes to Robbers Roost Spring, which is decent camping although often full of cows.) ( 12S 554840mE 4246214mN / N38° 21' 45" W110° 22' 20" )
  • 7.0 miles is the non-descript Long Route Trailhead. Park anywhere here off the road, there are no landmarks. ( 12S 553140mE 4246575mN / N38° 21' 57" W110° 23' 30" )
  • 7.6 miles - Short Route Trailhead. Park anywhere off the road. This is a narrow section of the mesa with Middle Fork visible on the left (south) side of the road. ( 12S 552161mE 4246639mN / N38° 21' 59" W110° 24' 10" )
  • 9.7 miles - End of the road on a prominent point. This is the exit trailhead. ( 12S 549209mE 4246697mN / N38° 22' 02" W110° 26' 12" )


Long Route - From the Top of the Middle Fork
Hike east from the road to reach the rim of Middle Fork where it begins cutting into the Navajo Sandstone layer. Follow it down, passing a dryfall on the left before a couple of narrow slot sections. The canyon is open and wide where the Standard Route enters on the left a minute before the first and only rappel.

Standard Middle Fork Route
Work down into the bowl from the road. Many options here. The goal is to work all the way to the bottom and to Middle Fork. There is nothing harder than class III hiking with some route finding. If it seems hard, look around! Once in the bottom of Middle Fork, the rappel is just a minute or two down canyon.

Both Routes
Rappel 1 (50 m ( 165 ft. )) - The first and only rappel is about 50m. Given the short approach using the Standard Middle Fork Route, some may choose to leave their rope here, and retrieve it at the end of the day on the way out. Picking the rope up at the end of the day took our group about 30 minutes.

Below the rappel, the deep walled Middle Fork is easy walking. Follow it until it opens up at a major confluence.

Go right at this confluence. This is the Mindbender Fork where Mindbender and Not Mindbender are. Hike up this about 1.0mile/20-ish minutes passing a side canyon that comes in on the left, and keeping an eye on the right for the first (and only) reasonable looking exit. This is the Moki Exit.

Moki Exit
There is a social trail that goes to the base of a slab. The short steep wall above the slab is the crux moki exit. It has an alcove/overhang to the left of it. The climb is easy, 5.5 / 10 m ( 33 ft. ), and has some enhanced holds. Beginners will want to be belayed.

Once up the climbing section, traverse left on a ledge above the alcove until you can climb lower angle slick rock. Just as you start this traverse, there is a petroglyph panel on the cliff wall to your right.

Climb the slick rock until you are below the final large cliff. Go right, around the corner of this large dome, and then up a boulder strewn gully. Work your way up and right until an easy way up the caprock is found. Your car will be visible on your left once on the caprock.


Printable Maps:
Trailhead (Long)

12S 553140mE 4246575mN

N38° 21' 57" W110° 23' 30"

Trailhead (Short)

12S 552161mE 4246639mN

N38° 21' 59" W110° 24' 10"


12S 551784mE 4246034mN

N38° 21' 40" W110° 24' 26"

Pour Off

12S 552168mE 4245901mN

N38° 21' 35" W110° 24' 10"


12S 552529mE 4245766mN

N38° 21' 31" W110° 23' 56"


12S 552939mE 4246116mN

N38° 21' 42" W110° 23' 39"

Moki Exit

12S 548193mE 4246801mN

N38° 22' 05" W110° 26' 54"

Exit Trailhead

12S 549339mE 4246836mN

N38° 22' 06" W110° 26' 07"


Want to make a comment? Login and let yourself be heard.