Glen Canyon National Recreation Area: Explorer Canyon - Backpacker

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area: Explorer Canyon

Venture into the lost world of the ancient Fremont people where smoke-stained grottos and some of the finest petroglyphs around highlight this 4-mile journey.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 5.4



Location: 37.368350982666, -110.943542480469

From Escalante River, head SE into mouth of explorer canyon, navigating S around island


Location: 37.369945526123, -110.934608459473

Tie off at waterline; begin short hike into Explorer Canyon, a tantalizing window into the mysterious world of the Fremont people where hikers pass three sites of rock carvings that depict human forms in a variety of poses. This canyon once contained rockslabs footprinted by dinosaurs.


Location: 37.3718795776367, -110.92960357666

Fremont Petroglyphs; archaeologists believe that Fremont people inhabited this region from 400 A.D. to 1350 A.D., living a seminomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle that many have ended with the coming of a decades-long drought like the one some scientists think is underway now.


Location: 37.3787879943848, -110.917259216309

Sitting between the first two petroglyph panels is Zane Grey Arch, in a small box canyon to the north. This canyon leads to the last carvings and an insurmountable pour-off. Several springs that feed the creek begin here. Below, there's good camping amid oak trees


Location: 37.3831787109375, -110.908348083496

Proceed past small cascades, often visited by deer, to upper end of Canyon where a sheer-walled pool marks turn-around.

Explorer Canyon

Location: 37.3708381652832, -110.93278503418

©Elias Butler

Fremont Petroglyphs

Location: 37.3722190856934, -110.928993225098

©Elias Butler