Road Canyon sits in southeastern Utah’s Cedar Mesa to the east of Route 261. Like many of the nearby canyons, it is dotted with Native American ruins. One of these ruins is known as Seven Kivas. You could reach Seven Kivas via a long hike by starting at the beginning of the canyon or by driving more and taking a short cut down the wall of the canyon. Except for a big slickrock pour-off, Road Canyon is otherwise easy to hike (the short cut avoids the pour-off). Bypassing the pour-off requires a half mile hike on a slickrock pathway 100 feet above the bottom of the canyon and then a descent into the canyon via a steep slickrock slope.
The description below focuses on the natural features of the canyon. If you want more information about the ruins, see the External Link at the bottom of this page.
From the junction of Routes 95 and 261 some 30 miles west of Blanding, UT, turn south onto Route 261 and go 13.5 miles until you reach Cigarette Springs Road between mile markers 19 and 20. Turn east onto the unpaved Cigarette Springs Road and go 3.4 miles (going past a gate that will have to open and close yourself) to an unmarked spur road on the left. Turn left and go a short distance to reach a parking area. This is the start of the long hike. You will not find any signs.
For the short cut you will have to go a total of 5.7 miles on Cigarette Springs Road and then turn left and follow a spur road another 0.8 miles.
I drove only to the long hike parking area. When I did my hike, after many days of sunshine, Cigarette Springs Road was smooth and appeared passable by any high clearance vehicle. In wet conditions, the road is said to become impassable.
Road Canyon, Start to Seven KivasElevation at Start of the Hike:
Elevation at Seven Kivas:
One Way Hiking Distance:
From the parking area, head northwest following a trail through a Juniper forest until you reach what looks like the edge of the start of the canyon.
Start of canyon
The trail goes into the canyon until at around one mile it reaches the junction with a branch on the left. Continue right downstream heading west. You will soon see a large pillar on the left (north).
Up the northern wall of the canyon you will find a number of ruins known as Fallen Roof Ruins. You could hike up the slickrock slopes to reach the ruins and then continue to hike on the slickrock above the canyon to reach more ruins (see External Link below).
Zoomed view of a ruin
If you are not interested in the ruins, you will remain in the canyon and continue to hike downstream on beautiful and easy hiking terrain.
3.4 miles from trailhead, you will reach a large slickrock pour-off which can be easily bypassed to the left.
You will then reach the second slickrock pour-off which will present much more of a challenge. You must follow a pathway on the right side of the pour-off. I first went to the left and took this picture of the pour-off.
Second (the big) pour-off
Take a pathway on the slickrock to the right of the pour-off and stay on it for the next three 180 degree turns of the canyon (a distance of 0.5 miles). You will find yourself roughly 100 feet above the bottom of the canyon with seemingly no way to hike to the bottom.
At the third turn look to the north wall of the canyon to see a ruin. This is the signal that you need to descend to the bottom of the canyon. I actually saw cairns that mistakenly led me to stay on the pathway but the pathway became too congested and difficult to follow and I returned to this spot.
Go down slickrock slopes to reach the crux of the descent as shown in this picture. This is not a technical climb but will require some hand and foot maneuvers.
Crux of the descent, my hiking poles seen
You will then continue to hike on the easy floor of the canyon until at 5.45 miles you may see a cairn that identifies the spot where the shortcut comes down the wall of the canyon.
Continue another mile beyond the junction.
6.5 miles from trailhead, you will reach the Seven Kivas ruin. A chain has been erected around the ruins to protect them. Please do not go beyond the chain.
|Seven Kivas Ruin |
|Seven Kivas Ruin
Short CutElevation at start of the Trail:
Elevation at the bottom of the Canyon:
Length of Trail to bottom of Canyon:
0.5 miles one way
Distance to Seven Kivas:
1.5 miles one way
On this trail, you must pay close attention to cairns. At the parking area you will be on the rim of a tiny branch of Road Canyon. Follow the cairns down slickrock slopes heading south for some time.
The trail goes around a slickrock pour-off and then turns back north going down a boulder and juniper covered slope.
The last portion before reaching the bottom of the canyon consists of a slickrock slope.
From the parking area for the shortcut, I followed a beaten path east on the rim of the canyon. The views were spectacular.
There is a self-pay station at the gate on Cigarette Springs Road. In 2017, the fee was $2 per day.