Grotto Canyon |

Northern Swell

Hiking Grotto Canyon - Northern Swell Hiking Grotto Canyon
Northern Swell

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


TICKS & TODOS: 8 Todo Lists / 1 Ticks
RATING: Hiking (Class 4-)
LENGTH: 5-7 hours
MAPS: Mexican Mountain, UT
SEASON: Any, no snow. Can be hot in the summer.
NOTES: Reaching the trailhead requires high clearance (and sometimes 4 wheel drive).
Fri Hi:77 Lo:55 Sat Hi:75 Lo:50 Sun Hi:74 Lo:51 Mon Hi:67 Lo:48 Tue Hi:61 Lo:49
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A canyon, an old cabin ruin, and an arch, this outing has it all! This is a highly recommended hike, and suitable for most everyone. Pay extra attention to the description, as route finding is moderately challenging.

Getting There

To reach the trailhead, take the Green River cutoff from highway 6 between Price and I-70. This good dirt road travels west off of highway 6 at mile marker 283.2 (16.4 miles north of I-70 on highway 6).

  • Reset the odometer as you leave the highway. ( 12S 557112mE 4338541mN / N39° 11' 39" W110° 20' 19" )
  • At mile 1.0, go left at the fork. ( 12S 555967mE 4339649mN / N39° 12' 16" W110° 21' 06" )
  • At 1.2, road goes under the railroad. ( 12S 555830mE 4339248mN / N39° 12' 03" W110° 21' 12" )
  • At 1.4 is a junction. Go right. ( 12S 555730mE 4338742mN / N39° 11' 46" W110° 21' 17" )
  • Follow this road, ignoring side roads until 12.1 miles. En route, you should cross cattle guards at 2.2, 5.1, and 10.9 miles. ( 12S 544541mE 4336793mN / N39° 10' 45" W110° 29' 04" )
  • 4-way junction. Reset your odometer and go left
  • 0.1 miles go right, with El Rancho Not So Grande on the left. ( 12S 544474mE 4336541mN / N39° 10' 37" W110° 29' 06" )
  • At 2.4 miles you will cross a slickrock wash, this is Big Hole canyon. ( 12S 545394mE 4333576mN / N39° 09' 01" W110° 28' 29" )
  • Keep going, reaching a gate at mile 4.5. ( 12S 546502mE 4331199mN / N39° 07' 43" W110° 27' 43" )
  • Continue to 5.8 miles where a side road goes off on the right (west) heading near a power pole. ( 12S 547416mE 4329407mN / N39° 06' 45" W110° 27' 06" )
  • Follow this short spur road 0.15 miles to it's end at a campsite and the trailhead. ( 12S 547133mE 4329306mN / N39° 06' 42" W110° 27' 17" )


From the trailhead, notice the wood post on the hill to the west. Go to it, and down into the wash on the other side. Follow this wash, with an intermittent ATV trail in it west. At the first junction, with a patch of purple slickrock on the ground, go left. Within 5 minutes, the canyon character changes as it turns to more entrenched sandstone. Shortly you will reach a pothole. Either attack it directly, or backtrack and climb on the right (looking down canyon) and re-enter the canyon just above the pothole.

3 minutes above the pothole, the canyon divides again. Go right. The canyon deepens dramatically and may have a little wading. Soon it ends at a dryfall and grotto. Retrace your steps back down to the first place you can climb out on the right (looking down canyon). Once out, follow the rim, and re-enter the canyon right above the dryfall. From the top of the dryfall go up the canyon to a two-tiered dryfall. (5 minutes above the fall). Climb out the steep drainage on the right just down canyon from the falls. Follow this drainage up as it becomes more and more shallow until it essentially ends. (10-15 minutes).

Head northeast, crossing a shallow drainage in about 5 minutes. Keep heading northeast, reaching a second drainage in about 5 minutes. You should notice the old cabin ruin here, as well as an emerging ATV trail that leads to it. Enjoy the cabin, but please leave all artifacts as is for others to enjoy.

From the cabin, continue northeast crossing another shallow drainage and rounding a corner. You should see a cowboy cairn on a knoll to the north. Head to it. From the cairn, you can look north into a canyon as it becomes shallow. Notice the small side drainage coming in across from the cairn. The arch is about 5 minutes up this side canyon.

After visiting the arch, retrace your steps back to the cabin. Follow the emerging ATV trail as it heads east back down to the trailhead.


Printable Maps:

12S 547133mE 4329306mN

N39° 06' 42" W110° 27' 17"


12S 545673mE 4328925mN

N39° 06' 30" W110° 28' 18"


12S 544868mE 4329263mN

N39° 06' 41" W110° 28' 52"


12S 544398mE 4329861mN

N39° 07' 00" W110° 29' 11"


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