Black Dragon Slickrock 'Trail' - San Rafael Reef, 6-2011


Alien from over the pond...
Sep 5, 2012
Last year (2010) we had to stop this hike, due to heat, jet lag and health problems. Now we started a new try. The hike Black Dragon Slickrock Trail is another highlight in the Reef region.

Map: Spotted Wolf Canyon.
Trailhead: Parking lot near Black Dragon Canyon
Date of Hike: 06 / 2011
Weather: Hot, sunny and windy.

It is a beautiful sunrise at the Black Dragon Canyon and pleasant chilly.


From the parking lot, who is also the trailhead of this hike, we hike along the dirt road, crossing a wash, toward slickrock slope, to the north, N38°56'19.40 , W110°25'12.64.


Here we begin, a increasingly steep climb. We looking for a path to the west, towards the rim of the Black Dragon Canyon and continue straight up to this highest point.
We have reached the top of Alcove a impressive landscape. At the bottom of the canyon, the petroglyph panel is located.


Next we hike up and down over smooth slickrock and through rugged countryside, along the rim of the canyon.
The next landmark is Sandstone Knob, which is shown on the map as a 5030 T. We pass knob on his right site, downwards into a small sandy valley with coniferous vegetation. For the first time a path is visible.
We then continue to the northwest to the next rim and climb down into a wash, who's coming from the north. We follow the wash to a Alcove, which invites us to a shady rest, and later continue upwards, parallel to the wash.


At N38°57'12.9, W110°26'2.9, it is possible to shorten the hike. We did it in the previous year.
On a gray shimmering ramp is possible to hike northwesterly, in the direction of the 'Lonely Hoodoo' and up to the highest point of this part of the Reef.
But today, towards north rim to a side canyon, which flows into the San Rafael River.
The rock formations of the San Rafael Reef, are easily recognizable and far, far in the distance, the Window Blind Peak is visible.


This is the direction we need. The next 0.6 mi is cross-country. Over the rugged terrain to the west, to the Rim of the Black Dragon Canyon. Some little creatures ars to see.


After another 0.4 mi we have reached the first viewpoint and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Lower Black Box of the San Rafael River and Sulphur Spring.


Here we go! Only 0.35 mi and we reach the highest point of this hike - 5810 ft.


The view is terrific.
Below us the Lower Black Box of the San Rafael River, in the north the Mexican Mountain, in the


northwest, in the distance the Window Blind Peak and the west the Jackass Benches.


Now it's time to hike back to the trailhead. Towards the 'Lonely Hoodoo' and the ramp we reach the parking lot.


Conclusion: A hike off the beaten path, with individual climbs, in a charming, picturesque scenery and interesting formations. Highlight: The amazing view on the Lower Black Box of the San Rafael River.

Featured image for home page:


Jan 18, 2012
I love seeing how people hike areas I've been to, but in different ways. Loved this TR and want to explore it the way you did.


Alien from over the pond...
Sep 5, 2012
Thank you for your kind of words, Tyler! :)
Feb 11, 2012
this is awesome.
i've been to the san raf reef countless times, and not once have i considered exploring the terrain you so eloquently photo-documented for us. this trip just has just been added to my hit list. thanks for the share.

while i'm at it... i have much respect for the keen eye that the europeans have for our beloved colorado plateau. Big fan of Steffen S.'s website, among others. In fact, two of my most favorite spots on the colorado plateau are ones that i have gleaned from european travel-blogs (much thanks to google translate). some of the photography is mind-blowing. the geology and geography of the locations are some of the best. zero crowds, other than the occasional european traveller. :D And nowhere, in all honestly, have i found beta for these locations on any "american" websites/blogs, not even in any of Kelsey's guide books, of all people. in fact, one of the location's he acknowledges, but politely writes-off as uneventful, tells me that he never bothered to explore up close, only that he observed from afar then passed judgement.
So, thanks again for your contributions in exposing the beauty found in our backyard.


Alien from over the pond...
Sep 5, 2012
Thank you very much for your comments, moose droppings!
Have fun!
For me, the Colorado Plateau is one of the best places on earth. :)
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