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Canyonlands National Park: Lathrop Canyon

Take a plunge off Island in the Sky Mesa with this 11.1-mile out and back that drops 1,500-feet for excellent views of the White Rim bench and Lower Lathrop Canyon.

Rating

From the Island in the Sky Mesa, this trail drops below sheer cliffs in the red-tinted Wingate Sandstone to a mine-flanked road and views of Lower Lathrop’s cliffs. To begin, follow the easy trail south from the trailhead across Grays Pasture.

At mile 1.6, the trail begins a three-tier descent over pot-holed and cairn-marked slickrock to a narrow bench along the top of the sheer, Wingate Sandstone cliffs. The trail stays mostly level as it winds westward along the top of the vertical cliffs, but turns steeply downhill at an ancient landslide and drops over 1,500 feet in less than a mile down a series of steep, rocky switchbacks.

The last few miles of the trail follow a long-abandoned, boulder strewn mining road—you’ll pass several closed uranium shafts—before turning right and dropping down a ridge into a sandy wash. Follow the canyon 0.6 miles east to the White Rim Road and killer views of the bench above Lower Lathrop’s snaking southern reaches.

The southern exposure makes this an excellent afternoon fitness hike or a great spot for an evening photo shoot, but allow plenty of time before sunset for the challenging uphill return.

-Mapped by Steve Howe

To Trailhead

Follow US 191 north from Moab for 11 miles and turn left onto UT 313. Follow signs for Canyonlands' Island in the Sky Visitor Center, about 20 miles southwest. Continue 3 miles to the Lathrop Canyon Trailhead.

Mesa

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