Dark Canyon Utah Wilderness Area

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Dark Canyon Wilderness Area

Visitors come to Dark Canyon Wilderness Area for a chance to experience one of the most beautiful, remote and rugged wilderness areas in south east Utah. Popular area activities include hiking and wildlife watching. Read More

  • Located in the heart of Canyon country in southeast Utah.
  • Sundance Trail is the most popular established trail in the area.
  • Primitive backcountry camping is allowed. No established campgrounds exist.
  • Wildlife includes mountain lions, black bear, bighorn sheep, and mule deer.

Overview

Located in the Manti-La Sal National Forest, Dark Canyon Wilderness earned its name for its high canyon walls that block sunlight in the early morning and late afternoon. The area includes 47,116 acres and is comprised of both pine-covered high country and stark desert-like canyon basins. Wildlife includes mountain lions, black bear, bighorn sheep, and mule deer.

Dark Canyon is a rugged, remote wilderness environment. There are almost no developed recreation opportunities here. Most hikes require several days to complete, and will require some route finding abilities. Those with the skills to venture into this area have a chance to experience some of the most beautiful, remote, and rugged wilderness in Utah. Highlights include abundant wildlife, rugged canyons, and pristine Indian ruins.

Location & Information

Dark Canyon Wilderness is located in southeast Utah’s canyon country. Due to the areas remote location, access is limited to forest service roads. Depending on which section of the area you wish to access, your approach will vary.

Season

Though Dark Canyon is accessible year round, February through early April and late September through early November are considered the best time to visit.

Contact Information

Bureau of Land Management
Utah State Office
440 West 200 South, Suite 500
Salt Lake City, Utah 84145-0155
Phone: (801) 539-4001

Activities

Camping
Camping is permitted in Dark Canyon, but no established campgrounds exist. Make sure to camp in previously used sites and follow Leave No Trace Principles.

Hiking

  • Sundance Trail
    This is the most popular hiking trail in the area, and one of the few established trails available in Dark Canyon. While the full out-and-back hike is about 30 miles and takes around 3 days, many walk a few miles down trail and then around and return the way they came.
  • Backcountry Hiking
    Most of the trails that lead down into Dark Canyon are difficult, and depending on the time of year, maybe impossible to follow. Route finding skills are essential here. The terrain is defined by steep, rugged slops, high cliff faces, and deep ravines so the going is often slow and difficult.

Wildlife Watching
Dark Canyon provides a great venue for wildlife watchers, as you are often the only one around. Wildlife includes mountain lions, black bear, bighorn sheep, and mule deer.

Guides
Due the remote nature of this area, all but the most experienced hikers will benefit from a guide service.

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