Horseshoe Canyon

a tree with yellow leaves is dwarfed by a high cliff wall
Fall colors in Horseshoe Canyon

NPS/Neal Herbert

 

Horseshoe Canyon contains some of the most significant rock art in North America. The Great Gallery, the best known panel in Horseshoe Canyon, includes well-preserved, life-sized figures with intricate designs. Other impressive sights include spring wildflowers, sheer sandstone walls and mature cottonwood groves along the intermittent stream in the canyon bottom. Horseshoe Canyon was added to Canyonlands in 1971.

Location

Most visitors access Horseshoe Canyon from the west. Two-wheel-drive vehicles can usually travel the 30-mile graded dirt road from UT 24 (near Goblin Valley State Park), or the 47-mile dirt road traveling south from Green River. Driving time is roughly 2.5 hours from Moab or 1.5 hours from Green River. A four-wheel-drive road leads to the east rim of Horseshoe Canyon from the Hans Flat Ranger Station. Visitors should be prepared for unpredictable weather (such as rain or sand-shifting wind) that can quickly change road conditions from two-wheel-drive to four-wheel-drive condition. Check road conditions page, or call ahead for the current road conditions at (435) 259-2652 between 8 am and 4:30 pm Mountain Time (Please do not call this number between 5 pm and 8 am except for Maze-area emergencies!)

Do not rely on a GPS unit to guide you to Horseshoe Canyon. Use a map instead.

Hiking

Be prepared for hiking on uneven terrain, over steep rocky areas and slogging through sand.

  • The hike to the Great Gallery is seven miles (11.2 km) roundtrip, requiring five hours or more.
  • A steep descent of 780 feet (237 m) at the beginning means a steep climb back up at the end of your hike.
  • Pets are prohibited on the trail or below the rim of Horseshoe Canyon.
  • Group size is limited to 20 people. Larger groups must arrange in advance to go with a ranger or split into smaller groups.
  • Bring your own drinking water. We recommend one gallon (4 L) per person. There is no water above the canyon rim, and water sources are unreliable within the canyon.

Camping

You may camp at the west rim trailhead on public land managed by the BLM. A vault toilet is provided but there is no water. Overnight camping is not allowed in Horseshoe Canyon within the national park boundary.

Ranger Programs

Rangers lead guided walks in spring and fall.

This is a strenuous seven-mile hike lasting 4 to 6 hours, and visitors should be prepared with a gallon (4 L) of water per person, lunch and other hiking essentials. If staff are available it may be possible to arrange a special guided walk.

Horseback Riding

The trail into Horseshoe Canyon from the west rim trailhead is an old four-wheel-drive road that is suitable for horses. Group size limit is 10 animals and 10 people. Permits are free and may be obtained at the Hans Flat Ranger Station or by phone at (435) 259-2652 (ONLY call this number between 8 am and 4:30 pm). The following regulations govern the stock in Canyonlands:

  • Horses, mules, and burros are the only animals permitted. Other domestic animals are prohibited in the backcountry (including dogs).
  • Stock must be fed pelletized feed for 48 hours in advance of and during a trip in order to prevent the spread of exotic plant species.
  • Grazing is not allowed. Animals may not be left unattended and must be staked at least 300 feet away from water sources and away from vegetation where possible.
  • Stock must be kept in the wash bottom and may not be ridden up to the rock art.

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

2282 Resource Blvd.
Moab, UT 84532

Phone:

435-719-2313

Contact Us