Dark Canyon is rugged, pristine and beautiful. It is an excellent destination for those seeking to hike and camp in the wilderness in relative isolation. Though a day hike is feasible, multi-day trips are really necessary to adequately experience this area.
Dark Canyon is comprised of two areas. Upper Dark Canyon is a designated wilderness area in the Manti-La Sal National Forest. The canyon here is fairly open with stands of Douglas fir and ponderosa pine. Elk Ridge, at 8,200 feet, forms its eastern and southern border and is the source of the numerous tributaries feeding the upper canyon. It is generally hikeable from late-May to October, though it is generally wet and subject to flooding in spring. Summer temperatures are moderate and water is abundant.
Lower Dark Canyon is a designated primitive area lying mostly on BLM land. The canyon deepens and narrows as you head down canyon until its orange-red walls tower nearly 1,500 feet overhead. The environment here is more desert-like with pinion pine, juniper and cottonwood. It is hikeable year round, though temperatures are most pleasant in the spring and fall. Water is available throughout the lower canyon.
Dark Canyon is located in southeast Utah, east of Hite Marina on Lake Powell and west of the Abajo Mountains. It is about 25 miles northwest of Blanding and 15 air miles north of Natural Bridges National Monument.
To learn more about Dark Canyon, select a topic of interest from the left-hand column.