"Grand Gulch, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Grand Gulch is located in Southeastern Utah, just west of Blanding. The Anasazi indians inhabited this area for many years, farming corn on the canyon floor. There are many ruins in good condition.
The canyon continues all the way to the San Juan River. This makes for a total of 51 miles of hiking.
I recently hiked the canyon in April 1996 from Bullet Canyon to Kane Gulch. This trip was approximatley 23 miles. We decided to get to the trailhead early so we drove from Spanish Fork Utah and arrived at the Kane Gulch ranger station at about 11:00pm. We just threw our bags on the ground and slept in the gravel of the parking lot. The next morning we got up and loaded up the minivan to head to the Bullet Canyon trailhead. We left a car at the Kane Gulch so we could pick up the van at the trailhead when we returned.
We started our journey at the trailhead and followed a trail to the west. the trail suddenly drops down into the canyon. from here it is a trail that follows a dried up wash, with an occasional pool of water. the trail quickly disapears as you start to work your way accross ledges and slickrock. It is important to follow the Carins that have been placed to help you through this area. At the time it looks as if you can keep following the wash but there are some drop offs that range from 10 to 20 feet along with dificult bolder navagation. This area of the hike is probably the most dificult of the whole trip with the most elevation lost or gained.
We chose to go down this trail first as it is the biggest loss of elevation of th trip and we didn't want to hike up it on the last day. Once you make it back down into the wash you will travel for a while longer then you will come to the Perfect Kiva ruin. This is a great ruin and it has been kept in good condition. It looks as if the BLM has made some restoration attempts to allow visitors to enter into the kiva to see what the ancients saw.
Jailhouse ruin is in the same area as the Perfect Kiva About 4.75 miles from the trailhead. The Jailhouse ruin is easier to see because of the paintings on the cliff above the ruin. The paintings have a circle that is white and a circle that has white stripes, similar to bars of a jail. This is how the jailhous ruin was named. Walking down the trail about 2 more miles will bring you to the junction of the Grand Gulch and Bullet canyon.
The junction is a good place to camp. We stayed the night here. There was a couple camping about 100 yds from our camp. There is a great stream located at the trails junction. To continue up to the Kane gulch you would not cross the spring, but turn right and follow the trail. If you were to follow the trail across the spring you would travel down the Grand Gulch until the end about 40+ miles down.
There are many Anasazi ruins in the alcoves that you follow up the gulch. Almost all of the ruins are on the south facing side of the canyon. Up the canyon about 13 miles from the Bullet Canyon Trailhead is the is the Split level ruin. This is one of the well known ruins in the canyon.
The next good place to camp is the junction at Todie Canyon. There is water located in a spring about .25 of a mile from the campsite. The trail continues on until you pass the Turkey Pen ruin and then you will come to the Junction ruin. This ruin is at the junction of The Kane Gulch and The Grand Gulch. Up the Kane Gulch trail about 4 miles is the Kane Gulch Ranger Station. This is the last ruin in the canyon. From here you work your way up the trail about 500 vertcal feet. This part of the trail is well traveled. We ran into a group that was travelling by horse. So the trail is easier to follow than the Bullet Canyon desent.
This trip takes you back 2000 years to the day when the indians lived on the land and farmed for the food they ate. When you enter this canyon and come upon the ruins you get the feeling that time has stood still.
By Steve Mann
For More Information:
BLM San Juan Resource Area
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