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December 2000

Utah’s Grand Gulch: Along Ancient Trails

Cliff dwellings, petroglyphs, ancient pottery -- Utah's Grand Gulch is thick with history.

DRIVE TIME: Grand Gulch is in southeastern Utah, about 300 miles (5 hours) from Salt Lake City. Both Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Phoenix, Arizona, are about 51?2 hours away.

THE WAY: From Blanding, take UT 95 west 28 miles to UT 261 and go south. Proceed 4 miles to the Kane Gulch Ranger Station and trailhead.

TRAILS: The entire Grand Gulch canyon system runs 52 miles (one way) from the Kane Gulch trailhead to the San Juan River. The 23-mile section from Kane Gulch to Bullet Canyon boasts abundant ruins and reliable water sources. A short shuttle ride is required.

ELEVATION: From 5,160 to 6,500 feet.

The canyon rim is generally snow-covered from late December through February.

CAN’T MISS: Junction Ruin, Turkey Pen Ruin, Sheik’s Canyon pictograph panels, Jailhouse Ruin, and Perfect Kiva Ruin, all archaeological high points on the Kane Gulch/Bullet Canyon Trail.

CROWD CONTROL: There is a quota system during peak hiking periods (spring and fall), when temperatures are most pleasant. The best times for solitude are early winter and early spring. In summer, the mercury regularly tops 100°F.

GUIDES: Grand Gulch Plateau map (Trails Illustrated,

800-962-1643; www.; $9.95). USGS 7.5-minute quads Kane Gulch, Cedar Mesa North, and Polly’s Pasture (888-ASK-USGS;;

$4 each). Hiking Grand Staircase-Escalante and the Glen Canyon Region, by Ron Adkison (Falcon, 800-582-2665;; $14.95).

WALK SOFTLY: All archaeological resources are protected by federal law. Don’t touch or move any artifacts! Take care not to walk on middens (Anasazi garbage dumps).

Contact: Bureau of Land Management, Monticello Field Office, (435) 587-1532;

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