No road in this canyon
Overview: Road Canyon is one of several canyons that drain the eastern side of Cedar Mesa, in southeastern Utah. While neither as long nor as popular as nearby Grand Gulch, Road Canyon is a beautiful slice into Cedar Mesa, peppered with ruins and rock art.
Warning: Be aware of flash flood danger while in Road Canyon - there are plenty of benches to avoid a flow, but the main exit/entry route into the canyon itself is down a canyon bottom, so floods may make travel impossible.
Hike: The hike starts at the unremarkable Road Canyon trailhead, just past the Lime Canyon turnoff. There are plenty of parking spaces and a few campsites near the trail. The trail is signed at the parking area, and for the .14 miles the trail winds through the pinon-juniper woodland. While it is unseen, the trail is paralleling a drainage to the southeast. Soon the drainage appears to your and the rim of a Road Canyon tributary splits the forest. Follow the rim (and occasional cairn) to the switchbacks that lead down 120 feet to the floor of the side canyon. This side canyon is chock-full of boulders, so route finding can be somewhat irritating (though never difficult). The side canyon opens up after the boulders, and you'll be walking on slickrock until just above the junction with Road Canyon. Here you'll encounter another series of boulders.
After reaching the main stem of Road Canyon, bear right. This junction is approximately .8 miles from the trailhead. Keep your eyes peeled for rock art and ruins. The trail is indistinct in this stretch of Road Canyon, and often times walking on benches above the wash will be the best option. There is one minor pourover that can be easily skirted on either side, but canyon-left is the easiest. Interesting rock formations appear along the rims, including spires and hoodoos. Ruins are very prolific in this canyon - some can be easily reached, others require scrambling and serious route finding along narrow ledges. Others remains totally inaccessible. While longer hikes down Road Canyon are also popular, most people stop and turn around about 3 miles in from the trailhead - the full descent of Road Canyon will be written up as a separate hike.
Water Sources: Ephemeral pools. Potholes below pouroffs will usually have some water after floods. The canyon has a running stream in the spring. Treat all water.
Camping: Camping at and near the trailhead possible and popular. There are many good campsites within Road Canyon as well for backpackers.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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