Big Horn Canyon

Big Horn Canyon is a charismatic sub-stream of Harris Wash, located in a little explored section of the Grand Staircase—Escalante National Monument. Running through hilly, shrub-covered land between the wash, the Escalante River and highway UT 12, the canyon cuts into Navajo sandstone rock layers—displaying a surprisingly vast range of colors, textures, and formations. The canyon is quickly extends deeper, finally reaching a depth of 400 feet—forming slot-like channels of varying narrowness.

The Canyon originates a few miles along the Old Sheffield Road that lies about 100 yards from the road to any one of several divisions that form the head of the East fork of Big Horn Canyon. However, it is an irregular path which leaves UT 12 to the south about half way down the grand descent from the grasslands of Big Flat into the Escalante River drainage area. It is only after hiking for about 20 minutes that the canyon makes way to the introductory narrow channel, and shortly after has a 30 feet dry-fall, which is passed by descending down to the left hand side. Consequently, the canyon has other centrally located pathways of enlarging length disassociated by open and sandy areas. You will reach the deepest section after one hour—a drop of 8 feet into a rounded pothole.

The boulders become lighter, and have several shades—pink, yellow, brown and red, with fine, inclined strata—forming domes and tiny gorges and groupings similar to those in parts of Capitol Reef National Park. Heading to the lower end of the canyon, it has about half a mile of narrows, which include some only about 2 feet wide! This portion has very nice impressions and eroded bends and ends before the joining with the West fork.

This other branch of the canyon, the west fork, is a narrow drainage, a flat valley for most of its length until it enters a very nice segment of narrows—around half a mile north of its union with the prevailing East arm. You can reach this point by starting from the Old Sheffield Road; but from Hole-in-the-Rock Road, the route is very short. Also note that the area is generally unblocked, except widespread sandstone domes and steep rocks with bright, puffy markings in the rocks. No wonder that with so much of variations in its texture, it forms a very good place for slot canyon lovers.



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