Dark Canyon


Mar 4, 2012
Rain and snow were forecast nearby for the entire weekend, but we gambled on reasonable weather below the rim of Dark Canyon and enough breaks in the weather to wander up and down canyon and see the best of Lower Dark. We were a group of four and spent four days, three nights below the rim. I had been in the Lowest sections of Dark on a Cataract float in the fall of 2014, and was determined to get back and see more. There is still more to see in the upper tribs, so I do believe that an early summer trip is going to happen back there this year as well.


The Sundance Trail into Lower Dark Canyon was steep and sloppy as expected, but behind us quickly. A number of Claret Cup Cacti blooming on the way down.


We set camp Thursday night upstream of Sundance junction with Dark Canyon, but short of Lost Canyon. Night was clear and calm. We had a nice spot, but we later discovered prime spots at Lost Canyon upstream of us, and also at Lean-to Canyon below us, but we were not compelled to move.

Friday we explored up Dark Canyon with our sights set on Youngs Canyon. We had a late morning start and wandered slowly up canyon examining the many red fossil shells and crinoids in the limestone along the way. Deep pools and pour offs forced high bypasses in a few places and eventually the rain caught up with us, but was really no bother as we took our time and found a nice overhanging shelter for a long drizzly lunch. We turned back short of Youngs, due to time and weather concerns, but saw a lot of lovely canyon.


We tucked in for a damp night and and it blew and drizzled all night. Sleep was sparse with roaring gusts moving down canyon. After another late, lazy morning we started down canyon for El Rio Colorado. Limestone canyon floor, lofty bypasses, more pools and pour offs, a short climb to an interesting cave, and a colony of jumbo mushrooms in Lake Powell silt kept the walk interesting.


We made it to the bottom of Dark and lunched on a sand ledge above the Colorado, but there was much mud. The final reaches of the stream run through a clay bed channel and the water and mud are unavoidable, but the setting is unforgettable; so we trudged through to our lunch perch in Cataract Canyon.


It was back out the Sundance on Sunday with a long pause on the rim to say goodbye to a lovely place. I'll be back to this one. Not a hike for beginners due to some exposed traverses, and a challenging entry an exit, but if you can manage those issues, the Sundance trail gets you into some really nice canyon.



  • 20160416_130859.jpg
    111.9 KB · Views: 20
  • 20160416_155738.jpg
    91.9 KB · Views: 20
  • 20160417_064456.jpg
    98.8 KB · Views: 21
  • 20160417_064555.jpg
    142.5 KB · Views: 21
Last edited:


Mar 4, 2012
Awesome, @Cody! I just came back from my first time there. What a place! I'm really curious where that cave was.
It is just below the Lake Powell high water mark. In fact there is drift wood in the first room of the cave. It goes back a ways. Sounds like you had an amazing float. I was thinking of your upcoming trip while I was down there.


Jul 5, 2014
Really enjoyed reading this. Would love it if you wrote a trip report on your float down Cataract Canyon as well.
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
B Dark Canyon - Young's to Lean-to Traverse Trip Planning 3
M Dark Canyon Complex Water Data Trip Planning 4
fossana An Allen inspired trip to Dark Canyon Backpacking 31
JBPHXAZ Dark Canyon Backpacking Help Trip Planning 9
Mikjik86 8 Days Backpacking Dark Canyon Wilderness Backpacking 2
Mikjik86 Short Video: Backpacking/Packrafting Dark Canyon Wilderness, Utah. April 2019 Backpacking 0
regehr Allen-ish dark canyon loop video Backpacking 5
Stephanie B Behind the Rocks, Ken's Lake Faux Falls, U-Turn Canyon, Seven Mile Canyon, and Dark Angel Hiking & Camping 4
T Dark canyon - lower blm portion with pack goats?? Canyoneering 2
Gregg B. Dark Canyon/Gypsum Canyon/Cataract Canyon Loop Trip Planning 17
Kullaberg63 Allen's Dark Canyon route Trip Planning 18
MarkintheHV Dark Canyon Trip Planning 4
George_Washington_Hayduke Clearwater Canyon, Black Hole of White Canyon, Dark Canyon, Swett Canyon "Packraftoneering" Canyoneering 6
BJett Dark Canyon Wilderness - Wilderness Volunteers Backpacking 12
J Dark Canyon/Gypsum Loop Trip Planning 16
cmgz Dark Canyon-Woodenshoe to Sundance Backpacking 4
J Dark Canyon Trip Planning 3
Bob Dark Canyon - Dry Mesa Area Backpacking 3
dug Dark Cyn/Fable Valley approach roads Trip Planning 5
Nick Poll: Dark vs. Light - 2018 Edition General Discussion 9
Dave Afraid of the Dark Backpacking 12
Nick Dark to Cataract to Hite Backpacking 27
Artemus Dark skies for naked eye astronomers and photographers Photography 16
Nick Poll: BCP Dark & Light? Questions, Suggestions & Support 26
Bob Dark Sky Finder Resource Discussions 5
Backcountry Post BCP - Dark or Light? General Discussion 2
Archbishop I've joined the dark side........ And I LIKE IT! General Discussion 3
Nick Poll: Light vs. Dark Theme Questions, Suggestions & Support 11
TrailScot Lake Powell and the 'return' of Glen Canyon General Discussion 0
scatman Foothill Follies Part 2 - Black Mountain Ridge and City Creek Canyon Loop - November 11, 2021 Hiking & Camping 6
TrailScot Step Canyon access to Grand Gulch, Cedar Mesa Trip Planning 7
chandlerwest Bryce Canyon - Under The Rim Trail Hiking & Camping 0
RyanP Coyote Gulch to Halls Creek via Steven's Canyon and the Baker Route (car/key swap) Meet Up (Members Only) 5
Jazerrad Parunweap Canyon / The Barracks (Utah) Trip Planning 4
stretch Grand Canyon Loop: Thunder River -> Tapeats -> Kanab -> Sowats Backpacking 10
B In Government Trail and out Water Canyon Trip Planning 3
balzaccom Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne Backpacking 2
X Poison Spring Canyon / Black Jump Fall 2021 Trip Planning 2
kansas Good map of Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument? Trip Planning 3
balzaccom Buckeye Canyon thunderstorms Backpacking 0
balzaccom Kings Canyon NP Day Hikes Hiking & Camping 3
J Death Valley Natl. Pk: Funeral Pk, Slit Canyon, and Big Dune. Dec 21-22, 2020 Hiking & Camping 1
LarryBoy Skin Rash in Canyon Country General Discussion 11
swmalone Bryce Canyon Family Trip Hiking & Camping 10
J Grand Canyon NP Backpack Pt. 2 Deer Cyn explore-->Esplanade-->Indian Hollow Tr. April 18-23, 2021 Backpacking 8
J Grand Canyon NP Backpack Pt. 1 Thunder River Tr.-->Esplanade-->Tapeats-->Deer. April 18-23, 2021 Backpacking 13
Laura V. Four Days in Salt Creek Canyon, April 2021 Backpacking 31
NorthwestWanderer 4 Days Backpacking Capitol Reef : Spring Canyon & Various side canyons Backpacking 5
F Stevens Canyon/southern escalate water availability. Trip Planning 16
Juicifer Labyrinth Canyon in April Questions Trip Planning 2

Similar threads

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.