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The canyons that spill off Southern Utah’s Cedar Mesa are chock-full of Anasazi (ancestral Puebloan) ruins and pictographs, not to mention stunning sandstone scenery. Explore one of the best hikes in this high desert playground by connecting Owl Creek and Fish Creek canyons on this 16-mile loop.
Start on the primitive, cairn-marked trail into Owl Creek Canyon, keeping a sharp eye out for remnants of the ancient Anasazi culture (Hint: Look for signs, such as handprints and granaries, high up on the canyon walls). Pass Nevills Arch to reach the Fish Creek Canyon junction just past mile 6. Camp here, then head up Fish Creek the next day, passing a natural spring marked by a hanging garden of moss and ferns. A steep trail up on the south wall brings you over the rim, where it’s another 1.5 miles back to the car.
Info: Overnight permit required. (435) 587-1500; www.blm.gov/utah/monticello
Hike provided by Julian Smith, author of Moon Handbooks Four Corners (Avalon Travel Publishing)
Location: 37.4745635986328, -109.818046569824