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6 Year Old Stormy Discovers Crack Canyon

Crack Canyon

San Rafael Swell

          Crack Canyon is one of the more popular canyons in the San Rafael Swell. The canyon contains three wonderful sections of narrows and a chance to visit the little known Cracked Window Arch.

          If you have enjoyed hiking the Little Wild Horse/Bell Canyon loop in the past and are looking for a similar adventure with new scenery, less crowd and a little more spice this canyon is for you.

General Information:
Click Here for Google Earth KMZ file.Click Here for Map           Crack Canyon is a zestful canyoneering adventure. The canyon contains three enjoyable sections of narrows and can be completed by experienced hikers. Total time required form trailhead to the turn around and back is 4 to 5 hours. The canyon is normally dry but can contain knee deep wading and mud after a storm. Spring and Fall are the preferred seasons to attempt this adventure. Winter is also fun if there is no snow on the ground. Summers are very hot in the San Rafael Swell and not recommended for hiking this canyon.

          Crack Canyon requires no technical experience. This canyon does contain three obstacles that require scrambling to vanquish. These obstacles should not be a major problem for a healthy adult. A 50-foot rope is suggested for possible use as a handline for the less experienced and to lower packs. Group size is not a problem in this canyon. Since this is a desert environment a minimum of 2 liters of water is suggested for each person.

          A GPS is useful in identifying the correct trailhead and checking that you are on course. Navigation for this route is easy. The USGS 7.5' Maps titled "Temple Mountain" and "Goblin Valley," are required for this hike. A GPS is very helpful if you wish to locate and visit Cracked Window Arch.

          Crack Canyon is rated 2A II using the Canyon Rating System.  This canyon has a high flash flood danger, check the local weather report before entering this canyon.

          Improved campgrounds with modern toilets and hot showers are located nearby in Goblin Valley State Park. There are also numerous primitive campsites near the trailhead. If you use one of the primitive campsites be warned that the area is popular with the off-road and ATV crowd so plan to share.

The Subway Section A little climbing fun

Trailhead Information:
Any car during good weather can access this trailhead. The San Rafael Swell is criss-crossed with roads. Stay on the road described until told to turn off of it.

          Crack Canyon is located in Emery County between the towns of Green River and Hanksville.  From Green River, Utah follow I-70 west for 11 miles to Exit #149 and Highway 24.  Follow Highway 24 south for 24 miles to mile maker 136 and the signed turn-off to Goblin Valley State Park.  Follow the Goblin Valley road west for 5.2 miles to Temple Junction and a BLM information kiosk.

          At Temple Junction, the road heading south leads to Goblin Valley State Park. Take the road heading west through the reef for 2.2 miles to the unsigned junction with the "Behind the Reef Road". As you pass through the reef you might wish to take a moment and admire the Temple Mountain Pictographs.

          The "Behind the Reef Road" is not signed but is a well maintained road that is easy to identify. Upon reaching the "Behind the Reef Road" follow it south for 4.2 miles to the signed turn-off to Crack Canyon (N38 38' 35", W110 44' 42"). The Crack Canyon road is located in the bottom of a wash and is easy to locate if you have correctly noted your mileage.

          The Crack Canyon road is an unmaintained 4x4 track, which Leads 0.7 miles to the head of Crack Canyon. Where you park along this road depends on what type of vehicle you drive. Most cars can travel a portion of the road, while those driving a four wheel drive can easily reach the end of the road. In other words, drive down the road as far as you feel comfortable and park. Than walk the short distance down the track to the Crack Canyon Trailhead.

Thumbs Up The 3rd Section of Narrows

Route Information:
          From the Crack Canyon Trailhead (N38 38' 07", W110 44' 28"), just follow the wash downstream into the opening in the massive sandstone walls. Hike down the canyon as far as you wish. Most people hike the 2 1/2 miles to the face of the reef (N38 36' 35", W110 43' 38") and than return.

          Shortly after leaving the trailhead you will encounter a small pour off that can be easily downclimbed or simply by-passed on the right (LDC). Continue down canyon and you will next encounter the first narrows complete with a prominent subway section. I have found the subway section to be very photogenic, so pack your camera.

          After exiting the subway you will continue down canyon until you reach the most difficult obstacle in the canyon, which we call "The Slide". The Slide is not nearly as difficult as it first appears and is relatively easy to climb up and down. The Slide marks the beginning of the second section of narrows.

          The third section of narrows that you encounter has a different flavor. The narrows are very deep and dark with towering vertical walls and a nice sand and gravel floor.

          Continue hiking to the face of the reef, enjoy a snack and get ready to do it all in reverse.

Cracked Window:
          Along the way you might wish to visit the arch my kids call "Cracked Window" (N38 37' 28.4", W110 44' 14.7", Elev. 5448'). The arch is not easily seen form the canyon floor and is located high on the west side canyon wall. The arch is located at the exit of the second narrows section. I really don't have a clue how to describe the location better, so the best I can do is provide GPS coordinates and pin point it on the map and turn you loose. You can easily reach the base or the top of the arch with some interesting route finding and moderate scrambling.

          This arch is nothing spectacular as arches go, but it is something to spice up an already gratifying slot canyon. Cracked Window is a skylight type arch with about an 8-foot opening in the sandstone.

Some Water & Some Mud Cracked Window Arch

Optional Route Information:
          Crack Canyon is often combined with Chute Canyon to form a loop hike. I don't really enjoy this route and would not suggest it as an a great route. However, your taste in fun might be different from mine so I mention this route as a possibility. This route option is 13 1/2 miles long, requires a long day and plenty of water.

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