Moab History & Museums: Grand Gulch Utah Primitive Area

Moab Utah
> History Museums
> Grand Gulch Primitive Area

Grand Gulch Primitive Area

The Grand Gulch Primitive Area in Southeastern Utah is perfect for travelers searching for a location where you can experience the untouched splendor of the region and see ancient ruins. Read More

  • Truly a primitive area, access to Grand Gulch Primitive Area is restricted to hiking only.
  • Be sure to stop by the BLM office in Monticello to obtain a permit before you go.
  • The best seasons to visit Grand Gulch are fall and spring.


Located about 50 miles south of Moab, UT, Grand Gulch is truly a primitive wilderness-like area. This recreation site is so remote you can only get there by pack animal or foot. Once home to the Anasazi ("Ancient Ones"), they flourished in Grand Gulch between 700 and 2,000 years ago. Many sites remain and are in excellent condition. This makes Grand Gulch a very special area. Expect to find wall art, tools, dwellings and pottery.

Location & Information

While you can access Grand Gulch any day of the year, fall and spring seasons are best for exploring. During summer months, temperatures can exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit. During winter months, the canyon walls can be sheer ice and temperatures plunging to below 0.

You will need to obtain a permit to visit Grand Gulch whether it is for a day or overnight trip. To get there, drive 54 miles south of Moab on HWY 191.

BLM-Monticello Field Office
P.O. Box 7
Monticello, UT 84535
(435) 587-1510

Fees & Permits

  • Overnight trips need to be booked in advance. The amount of groups in the canyon at any one time is limited. It is best to book your trip in advance.
  • Day Use and Overnight Permits required


The following areas are great for hiking.

  • Kane Gulch: 10 miles round trip. See ruins and an arch.
  • Arch Canyon: A 12 mile long box canyon with hanging gardens and hidden cliff dwellings.
  • Mule Canyon: Slick rock walls with ponderosa pines throughout.

Interested in archeology? Keep a look out for pictographs (pigment colored paintings) and petroglyphs (etching in the rock) on cliff walls. These drawings are not believed to represent a written language. What they mean is left up to the interpretation of the viewer. Because oil from our fingers erodes the rock away more quickly, please only take photographs.

You may find bones. Please leave them be and notify a ranger immediately. Ancient people and their present day ancestors view these sites as part of a sacred cycle. Respect these areas. Put it this way... would you want someone messing with your loved one’s bones?

Fun Facts

Keep an eye out for middens. Sometimes thought of as a prehistoric trash mound, they are soft, charcoal-stained soil usually located immediately down slope of an alcove or cliff site. Please do not disturb these sites by digging or walking over them.

Many animals call this area their home. You may see bighorn sheep, mule deer, rabbits, rock squirrels, and many song birds and raptors.