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Utah Hikes: The Case For Glen Canyon

Drought is giving Glen Canyon--and those who love it--a second chance. Here are four spectacular reasons why we should protect this Southwest wilderness by making it America's next national park.

Like moths to a porch light, we venture up a side drainage that is deeper, narrower, and darker than Twilight’s main canyon. Lake water weeps out of the sandstone walls as if squeezed out of a sponge. The bonanza feeds lizards, bugs, birds, Day-Glo green algae, and numerous hanging fern gardens. I pause in a hip-deep, copper-colored pool, press my palms against the damp slickrock, and listen for a moment to the echoes of frogs and gurgling water. Here, in the belly of the Earth, I am blissfully at peace.

Getting There From UT 12 just east of Escalante, turn south onto Hole-in-the-Rock Road. Continue on the 4WD dirt road for about 50 miles to where it crosses Davis Wash. Park just past the wash.

The Route Allow 3 days for this out-and-back. From Davis Wash to the Twilight drop-in is a 9-mile traverse south along the east side of Fifty and Sixty Mile Points. (Sixty Mile is not named on USGS quads, but it’s the southern tip of the cliffs that continue south from Fifty Mile Point.) Wrap around Sixty Mile and continue northwest along its west side for 1.75 miles until you arrive at the elevation benchmark “4147 T” indicated on the USGS quad. The entry into Twilight is between this benchmark and the “T” in Twilight on the map. Hike around the northwest side and drop down toward the canyon, looking for a solitary 20-foot-tall juniper (UTM 12S 0502417E 4114034N). There’s good camping in this area. From the tree, walk south for about 220 yards along a series of narrow, vegetated ledges until the slickrock begins to fall away to the right. At a point 40 feet above the canyon floor where it becomes too steep to continue walking, look for a notch cut into the top of a rock by a climbing rope (UTM 12S 0502337E 4113719N). Bring two 60-foot ropes and a harness to descend the steep friction slab to the floor of the canyon. This is also your exit route; it’s easier to go up (a 5.2 climb) than down, but you may want to leave a rope in place to get up. Note: The only guaranteed water is at the lake, a few miles down Twilight Canyon. USGS quads: Davis Gulch, Nasja Mesa

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