Hiking in Utah
Adventures in Camping, Backpacking, Trail Running, and Canyoneering

Crack Canyon
San Rafael Swell, Utah


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Trailhead and Map | Trail Description
Distance and Difficulty | Hiking Time | What to Bring

GPS Coordinates and Map

Crack Canyon
"Let's explore!" -- Entering Crack Canyon

Crack Canyon is located in southcentral Utah, north of the small town of Hanksville off Highway 24. When you reach the Goblin Valley turnoff on Highway 24, head west on the paved road for about 5 miles to the T-junction where you could turn left and head to Goblin. On this trip, however, keep going west on the Temple Mountain Road which quickly turns to dirt. Follow this road for about two miles beyond the t-junction until the road forks off to the left (southwest). This is a narrow dirt road and most cars should have little trouble reaching the trailhead in good, dry weather.

Drive along this dirt road until N 38.38.580, W 110.44.711, at which point the road takes a sharp bend to the right. Here, you will find a small pulloff and a rough parking area for Crack Canyon. Most cars will want to park here, but you follow the rough track in a hardy 4-wheel drive vehicle about .7 miles until the actual trailhead, but do this at your own risk. There are a lot of loose rock, and on one trip, a large rock flipped up and put a large dent in the truck we were with. You can park your vehicle in the vicinity of N 38.38.061, W 110.44.491.

Click HERE to view the approximate starting coordinates and map.

Trail Description

"Awesome tunnel!" -- Looking into the short subway section
The journey through Crack Canyon is another one of this area's local treasures in the San Rafael Swell near Goblin Valley that won't leave you disappointed or fighting the crowds like with other more popular hikes in the area, including Little Wild Horse Canyon a few miles to the southwest. The canyon entrance with touring sandstone walls leading south is very wide with a small stream down the middle. The canyon slowly narrows, but the thousands of years of weathering on the sandstone walls and floor of the canyon have produced some amazing features, including some nice pot holes along the way. You feel like you are following a serpentine path, continually narrowing as you go. Kids will love to explore every nook and cranny along the way.

After walking for around .5 miles, you come to the area referred to often as the Subway at N 38.37.774, W 110.44.352, as seen here. The section is rather short, but it is representative of the erosive power of water over the ages.

Crack Canyon Subway
"The famous subway!" -- Making our way through the short, intriguing tunnel

After another .35 miles or so, you arrive at a hands-on obstacle at N 38.37.531, W 110.44.290 where, if you decide to proceed, will require you to use a rope to climb down about 10 feet into a narrow section of the canyon. Judge your group well. In our case, we were with family, including children and dogs, and only two of us proceed a short distance in the canyon after the down climb. If you have a dog, you probably won't be able to get your dog out again unless you decide to hike miles and miles out another way . . . either to neighboring Chute Canyon or even south towards Goblin Valley. Otherwise, this would make a nice turn-around point to head back to your vehicle.

Distance and Difficulty

The distance you travel from the trailhead cited above will depend on how far you enter the canyon. Seeing most of the interesting features would be a pleasant, canine-friendly hike of a couple of miles over easy terrain.

climbing down the rope
"Down climbing anyone?" -- Doing a little hands-on work in Crack Canyon
Hiking Time

About 2-3 hours, depending on any stops along the way.

What to Bring

Plenty of water. A GPS will be helpful in marking the way, but many GPS devices may not pick up reception in the deeper parts of the canyon, so don't plan on relying on it. There are plenty of spots where you can sit and enjoy a lunch break before heading back.

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