"Horseshoe Canyon Overview" Top 5 Page for this destination Canyonlands National Park Things to Do Tip by goodfish

Canyonlands National Park Things to Do: 152 reviews and 316 photos

Other than the Maze, the Horseshoe Unit is the most remote section of Canyonlands to access. This is a detached piece of the park some 120 miles from Island in the Sky (by the most commonly used west entrance) and the last 30 miles of that is dirt road: it is a long way from anywhere. But along the walls of this canyon are some of the most stunning and archeologically important pictographs on the continent and the primary reason to make the trek. I'll cover specifics of the 7-mile RT hike in following tips but here are some good things to know before putting this one into your planner.

Reaching the parking area from Moab takes about 2 and 1/2 hours. That can be a bit shorter or a bit longer depending on the condition of that 30 miles of dirt road. You can usually do this with a 2-wheel drive car but a recent, heavy rain could make it impassable to any vehicle, or slow going for those without 4-wheel drive/high clearance. There is another entrance from Green River that's 47 miles of dirt and can have the same access issues but is closer to Moab.

We chose to stay in the tiny town of Hanksville - about 50 miles from the trailhead - to cut some drive time and be within shoutin' distance (for vast, middle-of-nowhere Utah) of Goblin Valley State Park and another excellent hike at Little Wildhorse and Bell canyons: highly recommended. There are a couple of stations for refueling the car, 2-3 basic places for refueling the tummy, one decent motel, and that's the extent of Hanksville but hey, it worked for us.

Except for a vault toilet at the trailhead, there are no facilities here at all so food, water, etc. needs to be brought with you. And do bring plenty of water as there is little shade on the trail. Other than any other hikers you'll encounter, you're totally on your own so prepare accordingly: see my warnings and dangers.

Camping is allowed at the trailhead but not in the canyon itself, and hiking/camping are free: you don't need a park pass.

For all of its various little challenges, this is one terrific hike that's a must-do for anyone interested in the archeology of the Southwest. See my next review for details on the trek to the pictographs.


Address: Horseshoe Canyon, Canyonlands NP
Directions: 20 miles north of Hanksville on Hwy 24, and then east 32 miles to the trailhead.
Website: http://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/horseshoecanyon.htm

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Nov 28, 2013
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