Road Canyon, to Seven Kivas

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Road Canyon, to Seven Kivas
Created On: May 12, 2017
Last Edited On: May 12, 2017


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.

Getting There

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 Kivas

Elevation at Start of the Hike: 6370 ft
Elevation at Seven Kivas: 5440 ft
One Way Hiking Distance: 6.5 miles

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 Road CanyonStart 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).

Pillar, upper end of Road CanyonPillar

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 ruinZoomed 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.

Road Canyon
Road Canyon
Road Canyon
Road Canyon
Road Canyon
Road Canyon
Road Canyon
Road Canyon

3.4 miles from trailhead, you will reach a large slickrock pour-off which can be easily bypassed to the left.

First Pour-offFirst pour-off

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.

The big pour-offSecond (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.

Slickrock pathway for pour-off bypass
Canyon floor from pour-off bypass
Canyon floor from pour-off bypass
Pour-off bypass and Road Canyon

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.

This ruin signals that it is time to descendRuin

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 descentCrux 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.

Road Canyon
Road Canyon

Continue another mile beyond the junction.

Road canyon
Road Canyon
Road Canyon
Road Canyon

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 ruinSeven Kivas Ruin
Seven Kivas ruinSeven Kivas Ruin

Short Cut

Elevation at start of the Trail: 5980 ft
Elevation at the bottom of the Canyon: 5550 ft
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.

Upper parts of the shortcut

The trail goes around a slickrock pour-off and then turns back north going down a boulder and juniper covered slope.

On the shortcut
On the shortcut

The last portion before reaching the bottom of the canyon consists of a slickrock slope.

Final portion of shortcut

Canyon Rim

From the parking area for the shortcut, I followed a beaten path east on the rim of the canyon. The views were spectacular.

Road Canyon from the rim
Road Canyon from the rim
Road Canyon from the rim
Road Canyon from the rim
Abajo Mountains and Road Canyon from the rim
Road Canyon from the rim

Red Tape

There is a self-pay station at the gate on Cigarette Springs Road. In 2017, the fee was $2 per day.

External Links