Iron Wash is a nice and easy canyon in the San Rafael Swell. The canyon cuts through what is known as the San Rafael Reef, and the rock walls are high and impressive. Note: Upper Iron Wash is a technical challenge that will be discussed on another page. The canyon offers easy walking, despite the fact that no trail system exist, and since the canyon is wide, it makes a nice winter excursion.
Lone Man Draw is a side canyon of Iron Wash, and is more open. The draw, or canyon, offers many side excursions for some fine views of the San Rafael Swell, Temple Mountain, and the La Sal Mountains.
While perhaps not as spectacular as the slot canyons in the area, Iron Wash and Lone Man Draw are still worth visiting, and are very scenic and pleasant to hike. Both offer some interesting exploring, and without any crowds.
From Green River, Utah follow I-70 west for 11 miles to Exit #149 and Highway 24. Turn south on Highway 24 and follow it south for 19 miles to a road to the west (right) which is located between mile markers 141 and 142 . Turn west on the good dirt road. Cross through the gate and close it behind you. Follow the dirt road west for 0.9 miles to a fork. Take the south (left) fork and follow the road for another 1.5 miles to a second minor fork. We turned right and parked at a stock pond, but it is better to turn left and park near the wash bottom. Don’t park in the wash bottom if there is any chance of rain!
I made it here in our Subaru Forester, but some passenger cars might have some problems. Most should make it if you drive slowly.
As stated, the walking is fairly easy in these canyons. There are several route possibilities.
In half a day, you can walk up Iron Wash to the confluence of Iron Wash and Lone Man Draw. In a full day, you can explore farther up Iron Wash to some huge pools. Above these pools the canyon becomes very technical, and will be discussed on another page. Also in a full day, you can explore Lone Man Draw.
If you are fit, you can hike up Iron Wash, Lone Man Draw, and over the saddle to Ernie Canyon. You can then descend Ernie Canyon to its mouth, and then head south cross country to the mouth of Iron Wash. This route is about 12 miles round trip, and is a good loop hike.
If you would like to explore around, you can spend two days here.
ATV's/4wd's are not allowed beyond the WSA boundary, though some are breaking the law.
There is no private land for miles, so you can literally camp where ever you please. The road to the trailhead has some nice campsites. There are some nice campsites in the canyons as well.
For overnight campers, there is usually running water in Iron Wash from near the confluence of Iron Wash and Lone Man Draw, that flows for about a mile. The water taste slightly mineralized, so bring powdered drink mix.
If the water source is dry, there should always be water farther up Iron Wash, in the form of huge pools, and at the bottom of the technical section. See the route page for more details.
Summer is extremely hot with temperatures exceeding 100F degrees (38C). Winter temperatures can drop well below 0F (-18C). The best times of the year to visit most areas are March through May and then again in mid-September through November. Usually, winter weather is pleasant and dry, but cold at night, so winter is a good time to hike or camp in these canyons.
WEATHER FORECAST FOR SAN RAFAEL SWELL
Weather and climate data for the Hanksville is below. *National Weather Service Data 1912-2004.
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