The best canyon of our desert road trip was Red Breaks Canyon in Escalante, Utah. Roadtrip Ryan summarized the canyon as having “big views, tight narrows, up climbing challenges, navigation fun, and stunning colors,” and also called it “exquisite.” Sold!

The night before we drove in 6 miles on Old Sheffield road (a well-maintained dirt road) and camped. The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast with some awesome views:

We just discovered the cast iron skillet. We now make everything on it.
Pancakes cooked in bacon grease. Yum.

Red Breaks canyon is considered a 3A canyon. The “3” means it is technical, requiring rappelling and anchor skills, and the “A” means it is (mostly) dry. We encountered one small pool that went up past our ankles.

The approach and canyon took us 5-6 hours round trip. The hiking portion was 1 hour each way in large part because of the route finding.

Red Breaks Canyon Utah
Hike to the start of Red Breaks canyon.
cactus flower.jpg
Lots of cactus flowers along the way.

As usual, I will defer to Roadtrip Ryan (or Dan) for all of the route finding details. Use a GPS too.

Red Breaks is one of our favorites so far because the slots were tight but not TOO tight (magic?) and it was gorgeous.

Red Breaks Canyon Utah
Wider section.
Red Breaks Canyon Utah
Getting a little more narrow, but still smiling about it.
Red Breaks Canyon Utah
Colorful + sinuous slots.

Red Breaks Canyon Utah

There is one ~30 foot rappel in the canyon. Dan set up a retrievable anchor that we could pull at the bottom:

retrievable anchor.jpg

Red Breaks Canyon Utah
Looking down to the bottom of the rappel. A shallow pool awaits.
Red Breaks Canyon Utah
View of the rappel from the bottom.

After this section the canyon opened up and we walked for 30 minutes until we reached the hike out of the canyon. Along the way we saw a spider-filled hole in the rock. Time to climb inside:

red breaks 7.jpg
Appraising the hole for structural integrity.
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Hoping the sandy bottom doesn’t fall into a trap.

We reached the west fork (the return canyon) and found it almost more fun and exciting. There are many boulders to pass and up-climbs requiring a bit of teamwork and problem solving. Also known as beach whaling:

red breaks Canyon Utah
Technical climbing move.

The canyon becomes deep and narrow – beautiful!

red breaks canyon
Narrow and fun.

The canyon opens and with a few more minutes of easy walking we found the bag we stashed. We hiked back to the trailhead in another hour and in that time I managed to take more flower pictures, effectively/unnecessarily increasing our hot desert hiking time.


Here are a few other resources for the trip:

Summit Post

University of Utah

The end.




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