Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 38.26592°N / 111.06609°W
Activities Activities: Hiking, Scrambling
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 5165 ft / 1574 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Looking North Along Caineville Reef

Like its neighbor North Caineville Reef (each has a terminus across the road from one another), Caineville Reef stretches for many miles into some of the least-explored backcountry in Utah and in all of the Lower 48.  A visit to this formation is essentially a long ridge walk with outstanding views of the Waterpocket Fold in Capitol Reef National Park, South Caineville Mesa, and the badlands of the Caineville area.  There are outcrops here and there that provide some scrambling opportunities.  One outcrop features some Native American-style petroglyphs.  Two of them look suspiciously phony, while the third has a slightly more authentic look, but all three are actually phony.  But I'm no expert either way, so go there and see them yourself!

What is a reef out here?  Are these ancient undersea reefs?  No.  Although there were shallow saltwater seas in this region millions of years ago, the many "reefs" out here are actually uplifts.  In many cases, settlers and pioneers named them "reefs" because, like reefs in the ocean, they were large barriers to travel.  The reefs of Utah are lengthy ridge systems and typically present nearly unbroken cliffs for several miles.

Petroglyph on Caineville ReefFake
Fake Petroglyph?Fake
Fake Petroglyph?Ridiculously fake!

Getting There

9.5 miles east of the Capitol Reef National Park boundary, not far west of the Rodeway Inn in Caineville, turn off Utah 24 onto a signed dirt road. This road leads about 26 miles to Cathedral Valley Junction in Upper Cathedral Valley, passing Lower Cathedral Valley along the way. But all you have to do is pull off in a gravel parking area next to the highway.

Caineville Reef


The northern end of Caineville Reef is just across the road.  Simply cross the road and head up.  Getting to the crest of the ridge is as easy as Class 2, but some Class 3 scrambling on the first major outcrop will get you to those petroglyphs I mentioned.

From there, go as far as you like.  A suggested outing of about four one-way miles is to follow the reef until it descends to the Fremont River and then head back the same way or follow the road back to your car.  Included in this outing will be four "summits," the highest of which is 5038' and about 400' higher than the parking area.  South of that summit is a steep drop into a wash splitting the reef, followed by a climb back up to the crest.  The actual highpoint of the reef appears to be 5165' at a point nearly three miles south of where the Fremont River cuts through the reef.  In all, the reef appears to be about 10 miles long, with its southern end where it drops to meet Sandy Creek in an area called the Blue Flats.

Looking North Along Caineville Reef
Northwest from Caineville Reef

Red Tape

No official red tape at all; just exercise respect and common sense and try to tread as lightly as possible.

When to Climb

Any season, but in summer, go out either very early in the day or very late to avoid the heat.


No developed campgrounds close by (there is a place in Caineville calling itself a campground and RV park, and maybe I've just been by at the wrong times in recent years, but it always seems closed).

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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Jeremy Hakes

Jeremy Hakes - Jun 5, 2013 11:47 am - Voted 10/10

Peak, etc.

Great page, Bob. Over on ListsofJohn, it is shown a little different location and elevation. Does it jive with what you are showing here? If it does, corrections could be made to your page. Also, LoJ needs an image of the peak, and you have several great ones!

Bob Sihler

Bob Sihler - Jun 11, 2013 5:06 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Peak, etc.

Hi Jeremy, It's the same location, just a different elevation point and lat/long location. The formation is several miles long.

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