Week of December 8-14, 1995
Backpacking Utah's White Canyon
Question: I am trying to research a backpacking trip through White Canyon in Utah. The canyon begins at Natural Bridges Monument and ends at Lake Powell. I am having trouble finding resources to aid in planning my trip. Can you suggest any?
Adventure Adviser: In order to hike White Canyon end to end, you'll need to negotiate the infamous Black Hole, a maze-like box canyon about five miles north of Lake Powell that's water-filled 12 months of the year. This means that unless you've had extensive canyoneering experience and are comfortable swimming in icy cold water with your gear, the better choice is to do either a there-and-back or loop hike, stopping just short of Black Hole.
If you have two cars, leave one at milepost 57 on Highway 95, about 40 miles west of Blanding. Park rangers recommend hiking the short distance down into the canyon from here, so you'll know how to find your way back from the unmarked trail to your car at the end of the hike. After you've gotten your bearings, drive up the road to milepost 67--just outside the monument boundary--and park the second car there. From there, it's a 15- to 20-mile hike through the notch to the turnoff--just before Black Hole--back to your second car. Camping is permitted anywhere in the canyon, but be aware that flash floods are always a possibility--especially in spring and mid-summer--so it's a good idea to pitch your tent on higher ground, above the drainage area.
If you've only got one car, leave it at milepost 67 and double your hiking distance by making this a 30-plus-mile out-and-back trek. The best source for information is the Natural Bridges National Monument visitor center at 801-692-1234. They can provide you with detailed maps of this remote, little-used wilderness area.