This fork has a long narrows section including one walk through corridor section. By a competent rock climber, can be done without ropes in both directions, up and down, but all parties should bring a 100 or more foot climbing rope anyway and just in case, regardless of climbing experience. Climbing out is rated 5.7 or 5.8 on the YDS, but isn’t very exposed.
After completing the Main Fork from the top you can exit either the West Fork Bluejohn, the West E/E (entry/exit) Route, or continue all the way down through Lower Bluejohn Canyon to Horseshoe Canyon.
Climbing up the Main Fork Bluejohn Canyon. Mark McCray photo.
Click for full size.
Make sure to stock up with plenty of fuel and supplies when headed to the area. The nearest gas stations are in Green River and Hanksville and make sure to have a completely full tank of gas before leaving either town.
Getting There from the North, East, or West and via Hans Flat Road
From I-70 11 miles west of Green River or from I-70 west of Highway 24, take exit 149 on Highway 24 southbound. Follow the highway south to the Hans Flat Road on the east side of the Highway, which is between mile markers 135 and 136. This is just south of the Goblin Valley State Park turnoff (west side of the highway).
Pull out the map and have it handy from here on. Follow the main gravel road (several forks are passed; stay on the main one) for 24 miles or so to a major junction (which will be referred to as “Horseshoe Junction” for clarity). Let’s stop here.
All the below trailheads are applicable for the Main Fork.
West Fork Trailhead/West E/E Trailhead
This Trailhead access the West Fork of Bluejohn Canyon as well as Little Bluejohn Canyon. Turn right at Horseshoe Junction. Drive the road for about 6.9 miles to a small sandy 4wd track on the left (east). [This is just before a major junction in the main road, so if you hit the major junction, turn around and backtrack for about 0.2 miles]. Either park here or follow the sandy 4wd track for a short distance.
This trailhead accesses the Main Fork Blue John Canyon. Turn right at Horseshoe Junction as mentioned above. Follow the road south for 7.1 miles to another signed fork in the road. Turn left towards the Hans Flat Ranger Station. Follow the road for about 0.8 to 1.0 miles or so and not too far after a bend. We parked at a lone cedar tree. There are no other landmarks and the exact place you park isn’t that important.
Granary Springs Trailhead
This trailhead accesses the Main Fork of Bluejohn Canyon, the Squeeze Fork Bluejohn Canyon, and the East Fork Bluejohn Canyon. Turn right at Horseshoe Junction as mentioned above. Follow the road south for 7.1 miles to another signed fork in the road. Turn left towards the Hans Flat Ranger Station. Follow the road south for 2.6 miles to a small road on the left (east). This short road leads to some old ranch buildings. The dilapidated ranch building is spray painted “Motel 6”. Park here.
Horseshoe Canyon Trailhead
This trailhead is for the exit route if you do the entire Bluejohn Canyon to Horseshoe Canyon. From Horseshoe Junction as mentioned above turn left (versus right for all the other trailheads). Follow the road for 5.1 miles to another junction. Turn right here on the road posted for “Horseshoe Canyon Foot Trail”. Follow this road for 1.7 miles to a parking lot. Park here.
OTHER DRIVING ROUTES:
Getting There from South via Hans Flat Road
From the junction of Highway 95 and Highway 124 in Hanksville, drive north on Highway 124 for approximately 18 miles to the Hans Flat Road on the east side of the Highway, which is between mile markers 135 and 136. If you reach the Goblin Valley State Park turnoff, you have gone too far and need to backtrack a short distance. From the Hans Flat Road between mile markers 135 and 136, follow the roads to any of the trailheads as described above.
From the South, you can also get to the trailheads via Hite and the Maze, but the route is complicated, slow, and rough (4wd always required), though very scenic. Don’t even ask me to describe that route in detail. Buy a map.
Getting There From the North, East, or West and via Green River Road
This route is shorter than the one via the Hans Flat Road, but takes a bit longer because the road is gravel for a much longer distance. From Green River at Center and Main, turn south and follow the road signed for the airport. Stay on the roads signed for the airport until you get to a gravel road on the left with a sign for San Rafael Desert and Horseshoe Canyon.
Turn onto this road. This is known as the Green River Road. Follow the Green River Road south (crossing the San Rafael River at just over 19 miles) for about 39-40 miles to the turnoff for Horseshoe Canyon Trailhead (see above). You can either take the road to this trailhead, or continue along the main road for 5.1 miles to Horseshoe junction where all the other trailheads are reached via the routes described above.
Route DescriptionOption #1: Via Granary Springs
From Granary Springs, simply follow the wash down canyon. It’s uninteresting at first, but perseveres and it eventually deepens and slots up. This is about two miles from the trailhead.
Option #2: Via Shortcut Route
If you are doing just the Main Fork, this is the best way to access the fork. From where you parked the car, head east. Scramble or walk down into Bluejohn Canyon. If you are lucky, you should hit the canyon right near where it slots up. This should be just over a mile from the trailhead.
Continuing Down Canyon
Note: This entire route through the Main Fork can also be done in reverse, bottom to top.
The first drop is one of several challenging obstacles. Climb down it, or set up a belay or rappel, but please do not bolt it or leave slings behind (at this or at any other drop in the Main Fork), and please cut and pack out any slings you may find in the fork.
As you continue down the canyon, there are several drops. All can be downclimbed (5.5 to 5.8-little or no exposure), but some may want to set up a belay or rappel. There are several chockstones for anchors.
After all the downclimbs, you will reach a long corridor like walk through narrows. This is the Corridor Narrows and is very spectacular. The rim or the canyon is narrower than at the bottom, so it is spectacular and tunnel-like. The narrows end near where “Little Bluejohn”
enters from the west.
There are several exit options for the Main Fork. The easiest option will be to hike another mile down canyon from Little Bluejohn and take the West E/E Route
. This route is rated class 2 and is an easy scramble.
If you still want some more action, the second option is to exit via the West Fork
. The route has one little pitch at around 5.5 or 5.6, but there is a bypass around this section that is supposed to be only 3rd class.
You can also exit down canyon, through Lower Bluejohn Canyon
The first two options will make a pleasant day or 6-9 hours. The last option will be a very long day, so get a very early start.
Light bounces off the Main Fork Bluejohn Canyon walls in the narrow sections of the canyon. Mark McCray photo.
Bring a climbing helmet, a climbing/rappelling harness, climbing rope (50-100 feet will do), several slings and several rings/ Rapid Links.