Grotto, Hidden Valley, and Moab Mastadon

Stephanie B

Steph and Blake
Dec 7, 2017
March 18 - 20, 2019

Last week Blake and I went over to Moab to, primarily, try out our new (to us) camping trailer. We drove on scenic UT-128, along the Colorado River, planning to nab a campsite at one of the dozen or so developed campgrounds. Little did we know that we'd gone to southeastern Utah in the middle of Spring Break! With no available sites along the river we hustled over to Sand Flats in hopes of finding a decent site. We grabbed one of the last sites available, dropped the trailer, prepared a quick lunch and then realized we were right next to the very popular "Fins and Things" 4x4 trail. While it was fun to watch each rig's first climb up the steep hill, it got old and somewhat annoying to watch their second climb, third climb, fourth......We immediately postponed our planned hike in lieu of visiting the BLM office in town to inquire about alternate camping.

Once we got settled at the highly recommended Ken's Lake campground, we took off to find the Grotto. On the hike to the alcove containing pictographs (viewed best by lying on one's back) we couldn't believe the amount of lithic flake in the area.


Preferring not to lie down amidst the cow pies and other stuff that would surely lead to contracting hanta virus, I found a flat rock that I could use as a stool to take photos of the pictographs (not my best work):



We searched the boulders and slabs near the alcove for more rock art, but came up empty. So, on to the search for the Grotto. Along the way, I suggested to Blake to keep his eyes peeled for arrowheads since there was so much worked stone in the area. And, voila!


This was the first "for-sure" arrowhead that I've found. We've picked up several "maybe's" in the past, but never one that left no doubt. We dropped it under a bush and proceeded to locate the crack in the sandstone that contains the Grotto. After a short hike, we found the crack and the spot where it looked obvious to drop in. The drop-in spot seemed like a bit of a stretch for my height, so I went down-canyon a few yards where I could more easily get to the floor. I was immediately spooked by the body of a dead calf. It's one thing to see a dead animal along a road or in a field, but it's a totally different experience to see it in a dark, dank canyon. I'm not easily scared or superstitious, but I quickly scrambled back up and over to the original drop-in place!

The Grotto is a really cool place...literally. It was noticeably cooler inside and we could readily see why the ancient peoples hung out there. There was a pool of water, shade, yet enough light to see by to work or paint.


Some images were in better shape than others, some were up high on the ceiling.




The full hike to the Grotto was 1.6 miles long, with only about 130 feet of gain in elevation, and took us an hour and twenty minutes (including time spent examining the pictographs).

The next day we hiked the Hidden Valley Trail, in the Behind the Rocks Wilderness Study Area. I'd researched the hike a few weeks prior and had forgotten about all the switchbacks at the southern end of the trail. The trail was in great condition, though, so I decided to view it as our day's workout. Once past the switchbacks, the trail leads you into a gorgeous valley full of not-yet green grasses. I can only imagine that it would also be home to many species of wildflowers at the right time of year.


We took the trail as far as the saddle near the cliff face where an abundance of petroglyphs are found. A view from the saddle, looking south to the La Sal's.


We worked our way along the cliff, attempting to find the meaning behind the rock writings.




The hike to the petroglyphs in Hidden Valley was 4.7 miles long (round-trip), with a 840-feet elevation gain, and took us 3 hours (including time spent viewing the petroglyphs).

We enjoyed another evening at Ken's Lake (cleanest pit toilets we've seen in a long time), and slept peacefully under the nearly full moon that night. The next day we leisurely packed up, full of ideas for re-organizing our gear in the trailer and modifications to improve our camping experience.

On the way home we checked out the Moab Mastodon and other nearby glyphs.



The hike to the Mastodon was 1.5-miles long (round-trip), with a 130-feet elevation gain, and took us 45 minutes. It wasn't the prettiest hike being under utility lines, but good nonetheless plus we didn't see another soul despite it being Spring Break.

All-in-all, we got in some good hiking and it was a good first run with the Hiker Trailer.


Because I am able.
Dec 31, 2017
Wow! That Mastodon is amazing! Great share!
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
BJett The Grotto of Grayson Lake. Kentucky. On The Water 7
Nick Grotto & Balanced Rock On The Water 4
Desertrat Grotto Canyon and Horse Heaven Arch Hiking & Camping 3
PureLightImages Horsethief & Grotto - San Rafael Swell - 10.19.2012 Hiking & Camping 5
Desertrat Grotto Trail Hiking & Camping 5
norwegianxplorer Finding Hidden Glacier, 9 days backpacking Jotunheimen National Park Pt3, Norway. Trip Reports 0
TeamJenkins17 Looking for info on Clark Creek drainage/Pierpont Pass into Hidden Basin in the Washakie Wilderness Trip Planning 5
piper01 Glacier National Park, Part 1: Hidden Lake and St. Mary & Virginia Falls (Sept 2017) Hiking & Camping 3
Udink Hidden Valley Hiking & Camping 6
Red Rock Rangers Zion's Hidden Canyon Hiking & Camping 0
hatchcanyon Hidden Valley (2009) Off Road 0
Nick The Wedge & Hidden Splendor Hiking & Camping 1
Tyler Upper Crawford Draw, Hidden Splendor Mine, Joes Valley, & Manti La Sal Natl. Forest June 2007 Hiking & Camping 2
IntrepidXJ Hidden Valley & Moab Rim Loop Hiking & Camping 0
Nick Hidden Lake, Island Park Area Hiking & Camping 0
TractorDoc Cuyahoga Valley National Park (again!) 06/04/2023 Hiking & Camping 3
TractorDoc Cuyahoga Valley National Park 05/28/2023 Hiking & Camping 19
wsp_scott Yosemite Valley 2022 Backpacking 12
TractorDoc Yellowstone's Wrangler Lake, Bog Creek, Joseph's Coat Springs, Broad Creek, Wapiti Lake, Hot Springs Basin, and Pelican Valley. The Second Half. Backpacking 15
TractorDoc Yellowstone's Wrangler Lake, Bog Creek, Joseph's Coat Springs, Broad Creek, Wapiti Lake, Hot Springs Basin, and Pelican Valley. Part One of Two. Backpacking 61
D Onion Valley to Whitney Backpacking 7
TractorDoc Yellowstone's Hayden Valley, Trout Creek, Beach Lake, and Arnica Creek Meadows. September 11, 2022. Hiking & Camping 7
RyanP Goblin Valley SP Expansion General Discussion 3
K Hello from the Salt Lake Valley Noobs: Introduce yourself! 2
balzaccom Death Valley again Hiking & Camping 0
T Death valley Trip Planning 3
WasatchWill WRHR: Day 3 - 'Desolation Valley' to Halls Lake Backpacking 15
WasatchWill WRHR: Day 2 - Cirque of the Towers to 'Desolation Valley' Backpacking 28
TractorDoc Yellowstone's Hayden Valley in a Day -- September 17 2021 Hiking & Camping 27
J Death Valley Natl. Pk. Upper Monarch Canyon plus. Dec 1, 2021 Hiking & Camping 1
J Death Valley Natl. Pk. A Black Mtns and Canyons Traverse Nov 30, 2021 Hiking & Camping 2
J Death Valley Natl. Pk. 6 Days hiking. Nov 14-19, 2021 Hiking & Camping 1
scatman Hayden Valley Loop - Yellowstone National Park - September 17, 2021 Hiking & Camping 34
travel2walk Lamar River, Pelican Valley, & Speciman Ridge loop - Yellowstone, Jun 29 to Jul 3, 2021 Backpacking 15
J Death Valley National Park and Area Mountain Rambles Dec. 16-17, 2020 Hiking & Camping 0
J Death Valley Natl. Pk: Funeral Pk, Slit Canyon, and Big Dune. Dec 21-22, 2020 Hiking & Camping 1
J Death Valley NP Black Mountains and beyond Hiking Dec 19-20, 2020 Hiking & Camping 1
Burrito Death Valley van trip turns into something pretty special General Discussion 7
beaver-one Yellowstone advice: Lamar River - Pelican Valley - Mirror Plateau loop this summer Trip Planning 6
TheMountainRabbit Lamar River, Mirror Plateau, and Pelican Valley (Yellowstone NP) - mid-September 2020 Backpacking 28
balzaccom Death Valley again Hiking & Camping 4
Arizona Jones Willow Valley Loop Hike, Arizona Canyoneering 8
Miya Death Valley Birthday - Part 2 (3.7.20-03.8.20) Backpacking 15
A Info on Tehipite Valley Trip Planning 1
Miya Death Valley Birthday - Part 1 (3.5.20-3.6.20) Hiking & Camping 28
Kullaberg63 Pack Creek to Castle Valley - below the rim. Backpacking 0
westy Meadow Valley Mountains Backpacking 7
westy Meadow Valley Mountains Hiking & Camping 2
Scott Chandler Death Valley Trip Planning 7
J Death Valley National Park Keene Canyon-Wonder Mine Loop. Dec. 3, 2019 Hiking & Camping 1

Similar threads

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