Crack Canyon is one of the many slot canyons that cuts through the face of the San Rafael Reef. This scenic canyon offers three narrows sections including a spectacular subway section. It is a great non technical canyoneering adventure for experienced hikers looking for a little excitement during their visit to the San Rafael Swell. The route starts on the backside of the reef and follows the canyon to the front side. Once you have reached the front of the reef, you turn around and head back up the canyon. The down and back route will take around 5 hours to complete.
From Price, Utah, follow highway 6 to it's junction with I-70 (exit 157). From this junction turn right on I-70. Drive down I-70 for approximately 10 miles and take exit 149 (Highway 24) towards Hanksville. Drive down Highway 24 for about 25 miles to the signed turn off for Goblin Valley State Park. Follow this road for about 5 miles to an intersection called Temple Junction. You will recognize this intersection from the information kiosk and message board on the right side of the road. Continue straight through this intersection and into the San Rafael Reef. Note that turning left will lead you to Goblin Valley
. Continue to drive through the reef for approximately 2 miles until you come to an unsigned fork in the road. Take the left fork down the Behind The Reef Road. Follow this road for about 4 miles to the signed trail head of Crack Canyon. Please note that the roads from Temple Junction to the trail head are maintained dirt roads and during storms can be impassable even with a 4X4 vehicle.
The route is very straight forward and simple to navigate. From the trailhead, follow the wash toward an obvious opening in the cliffs. Once inside of the canyon, continue down towards to face of the reef for approximately 2 1/2 miles. During the trip down, you will visit three narrows sections, including a nice subway section, and have the chance to negotiate a few rock jams. Hike as far as you wish and then turn around and hike back up the way you came. This route can also be combined with Chute Canyon
for a fun loop hike. Good route finding skills are needed to complete this version of the hike.
Negotiating a rock jam in Crack Canyon.
As an optional route, this canyon can be combined with Chute Canyon
. To combine the routes, travel down Crack Canyon to the face of the reef. Cross in front of the reef heading west and then enter the bottom of Chute Canyon. Hike up Chute Canyon until you come to the Behind The Reef Road and then head east to your vehicle. Combining these canyons requires good cross country navigational skills and makes for a long day. The combined route would be approximately 13-14 miles long.
There are no special permits required to hike in Crack Canyon. Please note that Crack Canyon is part of the Crack Canyon wilderness study area and that vehicle travel is limited to designated roads only.
There is an established campground with showers and toilettes located in Goblin Valley State Park. There are also numerous primitive campsites located around Temple Mountain and at the trail head of Crack Canyon.
Crack Canyon is a non-technical canyoneering adventure and no special canyoneering gear is required. A 50 ft. rope can be useful to use as a hand line for less experienced members of your group, but it is not usually necessary. Because the San Rafael Swell is a desert environment, make sure to bring plenty of water. There is NO RELIABLE WATER SOURCE in this canyon or anywhere else in the swell.
WeatherSan Rafael Swell 10 day forecast
***As with all canyons in the San Rafael Swell, Crack Canyon has a very high flash flood danger. DO NOT ENTER this canyon if the forecast calls for rain anywhere in the area. Just because it is not raining on you does not mean that it is not raining further upstream.***
This Canyon can be hiked year round, but the best seasons are spring and fall. Summer temperatures can rise well into the 100 degree territory, so be prepared.
Weather and climate data for the Hanksville area. *National Weather Service Data 1912-2004.
Chart courtesy of Scott Patterson
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