Dark Canyon

MarkintheHV

Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2016
Messages
8
I am seriously thinking about planning a backpacking trip with my 11 year old son (strong hiker) to Dark Canyon. We would be either flying into Denver and grabbing the rental car, or arriving in Grand Junction by Amtrak and grabbing the rental car.

Some questions:
(1) Are the trail heads accessible via a two wheel drive rental car?
(2) Is it better to do the whole 40 mile loop, or just Sundance trail, set up camp and explore from there?
(3) Is 4 days of backbacking enough to do the whole loop?

Thanks
 

cjhaines

Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2017
Messages
13
Just got back from Dark this past weekend. Can't speak for the whole loop, since we only did Sundance, but the trailhead is accessible in a 2WD car. Towards the end it gets a bit rocky and you'll need to take it slow and careful but it's very doable.

We hiked down the slide Friday and hiked out Sunday morning. The trail in is decent (until you get to the canyon rim), but once you're down there you need to do a lot of route-finding and boulder hopping. It makes for longer days than you'd think. Again, I don't know about the whole loop but I could easily have spent 3-4 full days in the lower canyon.
 

Jammer

❤2Hike
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Joined
Feb 23, 2012
Messages
642
Personally I'd just set-up camp and explore via Sundance. The Lower Canyon (below Sundance) and lower Middle Canyon is really great. The upper Middle is dry and not that much fun. The water returns in the Upper Canyon and there's some arches and ruins which make things interesting, but... unless you really want to complete a loop I'd spend more time in the lower end. And... depending on how you are closing the loop, the rim walking isn't that great.
 

SKLund

Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2016
Messages
459
Just got back from Dark this past weekend. Can't speak for the whole loop, since we only did Sundance, but the trailhead is accessible in a 2WD car. Towards the end it gets a bit rocky and you'll need to take it slow and careful but it's very doable.

We hiked down the slide Friday and hiked out Sunday morning. The trail in is decent (until you get to the canyon rim), but once you're down there you need to do a lot of route-finding and boulder hopping. It makes for longer days than you'd think. Again, I don't know about the whole loop but I could easily have spent 3-4 full days in the lower canyon.

Howdy I am going into Dark Canyon from Sundance this month (flows are too high in the Escalante, but that's another story). My partner is worried about how steep the down climb is from the rim. He has read a guide book that says there is 20 foot drops and friction climbs. Any information you have would be helpful to fix the fear or terrify.:devil:
 

Nick

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Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,939
Howdy I am going into Dark Canyon from Sundance this month (flows are too high in the Escalante, but that's another story). My partner is worried about how steep the down climb is from the rim. He has read a guide book that says there is 20 foot drops and friction climbs. Any information you have would be helpful to fix the fear or terrify.:devil:

Only if you go way off course! We did it with very heavy packs (packrafts, paddles and PFD's), it is no joke but it is certainly not 20 foot drops and friction climbs unless you really screwed up. Our only regret was not starting earlier and not carrying more water. It's longer from the trailhead than it looks. Some pics: https://backcountrypost.com/threads/dark-to-cataract-to-hite.5790/
 
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