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Apr 24, 2011

Hiking Crack Canyon San Rafael Swell

Crack Canyon is a slot canyon hike in the San Rafael Swell. It can be a long hike, but most just travel 3 or 4 miles to the face of the reef. This canyon contains 3 sections of narrows and a few interesting features such as small arches, tall walls, and eroded slickrock. Total time to complete the hike as described here is 3 to 4 hours depending on ability and how much time you take exploring. The canyon is normally dry except for a few small pools, but can contain some minor wading after a storm. The best time to hike this trail is Spring or Fall.

The canyon is fairly easy to hike and requires no technical experience. There are a few obstacles that require scrambling. With 3 kids under 11 and a dog it was necessary to lower them down and give a boost at times. Crack Canyon is rated 2A II using the Canyon Rating System. This canyon has a high flash flood danger, check the local weather report before entering this canyon.

To reach the canyon, from Green River, Utah follow I-70 west for 11 miles to Exit #149 and Highway 24. Follow Highway 24 south for 24 miles to mile maker 136 and the turn-off to Goblin Valley State Park. Follow the Goblin Valley road west for 7.3 miles through the reef to the junction with the Behind The Reef Road. Turn left(South) on the Behind The Reef Road and drive for 4.2 miles to the trail head. The Behind The Reef Road is dirt, but graded and well maintained well suited for any vehicle. Once you reach the trail head(N 38.643137, W 110.745009), you may travel roughly another mile down the canyon on a 4x4 trail. How far you go is up to you and depends on what you are driving. We easily went all the way to the sign that prohibits further vehicle travel, N 38.63420, W 110.74154, as shown on the map below. (click "Directions" for detailed directions to the trail head from your location)

Download GPX FILE for gps navigation

If you have enjoyed hiking the Little Wild Horse/Bell Canyon loop in the past and are looking for a similar adventure with new scenery, and less crowd you should enjoy this hike. It is not as spectacular, but it is a fun hike, and it can be accessed from the back side of the reef where the 4x4 trails are so if you are already on a dirt bike/off road adventure this trail is one that is very easy to incorporate into your day. The trail head is right across the road from the South end of the Waterfall Trail, and the behind the reef road is a popular atv route as well.

"Subway section"


  1. wow, you guys really have it all together

  2. What a beautiful place. Thanks for making me aware of it.