Salt Creek Canyon

IntrepidXJ

ADVENTR
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
3,349
Wednesday - Sunday, April 30 - May 4, 2014

Salt Creek Canyon. This is a place I have wanted to visit for quite a long time. It's actually one of the main reasons I decided to get started backpacking a few years ago. I was very excited to finally experience this amazing canyon, and it certainly didn't disappoint!

I had taken Wednesday off from work so I could spend some time with Diane before leaving and so that I could double-check to make sure I had everything I needed for the trip packed into my backpack and Jeep. In the early afternoon Dave and Jared texted me to let me know they were driving through Price. This was my cue to leave my house so I could meet them in Moab. I arrived about 10 minutes after they did at Pasta Jays, and we had a nice big dinner before driving down to The Needles District of Canyonlands National Park to start our trip. First we dropped off Dave's Jeep at the locked gate on the road into Salt Creek Canyon. We were hoping we would be able to leave a Jeep at Peekaboo so we could bypass the sand slog at the end of our hike, but as we figured, the road was still closed as it has been for a while now. They loaded their gear into my Jeep and we drove up to the trailhead near Cathedral Butte. We setup camp under the butte and across the road from the trailhead so we could get an early start the following morning. There was a beautiful sunset with plenty of nice clouds this evening. We took a few photos around the area and then warmed up around the fire before getting to bed early.

At the locked gate on the Salt Creek Road. Our journey would end here in four days.


Still Closed
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Nice clouds above the cliffs of Indian Creek Canyon as we turn onto the Cottonwood Canyon Road to reach the trailhead near Cathedral Butte.


Indian Creek Canyon
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

My first campsite of the trip near the upper trailhead.


First Camp
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Great golden light on Cathedral Butte this evening shortly before sunset.


Framed Cathedral
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Cathedral Butte
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The golden light then turned to a beautiful red.


Red Tree
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Cathedral Butte Sunset
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Two-Track Sunset
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

There was a faint sun pillar to the west after the sun dropped below the horizon.


Sun Pillar
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Warming up near the fire this cold evening.


Cathedral Camp
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

It was pretty cold and windy during the night. I think my Jeep said it was in the lower 20's when we woke up. The temperature really pushed the limits of my 25 degree sleeping bag and my feet were pretty cold in the morning. They would not warm back up until we had hiked a few miles. We left shortly after sunrise and began our descent into the East Fork of Salt Creek on our way to SC1, our first reserved campsite of the trip.

First light of the day over Salt Creek Canyon and Canyonlands before we start our descent into the East Fork.


Salt Creek Canyon
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Hiking in the wash of the East Fork shortly before reaching the park boundary.


In the Wash
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Entering the park. I wonder what previous regulation was removed from the sign?


Canyonlands National Park
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After crossing the marshy area we reached the first small panel of pictographs right next to the trail.


First Panel
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We had to bushwhack through some thick vegetation to reach this nice panel across the creek from Kirk's Cabin.


Kirks Panel
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Kirks Detail
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We also had a nice view of Kirk Arch nearby.


Kirk Arch
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Inside Kirk's Cabin.


Inside
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A large piece of corrugated pottery that I found near some small ruins.


Big Sherd
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A smoke-stained ceiling above this small alcove with broken-down walls.


Smoke Stained
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Before heading back to camp for the night I wanted to visit Big Ruins while they were in the shade.


Big Ruins Sunburst
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Big Ruins
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I've seen a lot of pot sherds over the years, but this was probably the largest concentration of large pieces that I have seen.


Pottery
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Metate
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Design
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Kirk's Cabin in the late evening light.


Cabin Light
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Wheel of a wagon next to the cabin.


Wagon Wheel
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Wildflowers were abundant during our entire hike through the canyon.


Evening Flowers
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

My shadow in the doorway of Kirk's Cabin.


Doorway Shadow
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A small arch with a shadow near our campsite.


Small Arch
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Stains on the sandstone.


Stains
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A view up canyon shortly before sunset.


Up Canyon
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Light Above
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

My tent at SC1.


SC1
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The temperature was a bit warmer this night, though still a bit cooler than I would have preferred. Each night would warm up more than the previous on this trip. We were up early again and left camp shortly after sunrise on our way to SC3. It's really nice backpacking with friends who also like to get up early and get moving shortly after sunrise. I was really looking forward to this day since I have always wanted to see the All American Man and Four Faces pictographs. Both of these panels had been very high on my list of rock art sites to visit and we would be passing by both of them today.

A natural arch visible from the trail.


Salt Creek Natural Arch
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A large path of cactus's guard the remaining walls of this small ruin.


Cactus Patch
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We made sure to visit Wedding Ring Arch.


Wedding Ring Arch
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A very interesting Barrier Canyon Style pictograph site that I was hoping to find on this trip.


Big Alcove BCS
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Big Alcove Panel
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Anthro & Sheep
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Big Alcove Panel
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Reverse handprints and white dots are abundant in this section of Canyonlands.


Hands & Dots
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Pot sherds and corn cobs.


Corn Cobs & Pot Sherds
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Some of the ruins in this alcove are built on large boulders.


On Top
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

It was cool to finally be able to visit Squash Patch Ruin. The squash plants are still reseeding and growing after all these years.


Squash Patch Ruin
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Day 2 Hiking
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I stopped to explore a few joints along the trail.


Joint
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Ruins located high in an alcove above a tall crack in the sandstone.


In the Crack
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I was happy to finally visit the spectacular All American Man pictograph.


All American Man
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Jared stops to pose in front of some nice reflect light.


From the Light
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The Four Faces were just as nice as I had hoped.


Four Faces
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

View over the ruin in front.


The Four Faces
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


One of Four
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Wall
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Besides white dots and reverse handprints, connected triangles were also a common theme along the way.


High Designs
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We climbed up for a closer look at the Two Faces.


Two Faces
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Small
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Eventually we reached the Upper Jump of Salt Creek, which would be the furthest we would go today.


The Upper Jump
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

There was a toad hanging out in the water below the waterfall.


Toad
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We visited a small side canyon to search for more ruins and rock art.


Hidden
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Pictographs
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Dots
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Side Canyon Granary
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Another Granary
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Interesting how they constructed a floor across the gap in the ledge here.


Constructed Floor
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Back-lit cottonwood trees.


Green
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Reflections in Salt Creek.


Reflected Light
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I visited the Upper Jump in the evening before sunset to take a few photos of the waterfall.


Upper Jump Falls
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Upper Jump
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A beautiful desert oasis.


Upper Jump Pool
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Out of the Crack
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Light on the sandstone formations above camp as the day comes to an end.


End of the Day
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

My tent at SC3.


SC3
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

On Saturday we left camp early and made our way to the Angel Arch Camp located just past the mouth of Angel Arch Canyon under a few large cottonwood trees. It was very warm in the sun under the mostly cloudless sky which definitely started to drain my energy. We would take a few breaks in the shade throughout the day to cool off and relax.

Hiking on the bench below Upper Jump after leaving SC3.


Below Upper Jump
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Towers
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A few petroglyphs high above the trail that Dave and I climbed up to.


High Petroglyphs
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


On the Trail
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Dave stops to search the canyon walls for ruins.


Dave on the Trail
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A faded pictograph panel found in a larger complex of ruins we visited.


Hand Holding
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

This granary was hidden high up in a cave.


Hidden Cave
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A closer look with some intense reflected light.


High Cave Granary
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Below the ruins the bench was covered with many different kinds and colors of wildflowers. The best wildflower display we would see the whole trip!


Flowers Everywhere
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Wildflowers
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

While photographing the flowers I came across this well-hidden granary in an unusual location. Had I not been checking out the flowers I'm sure we would have missed it.


Hidden Granary
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Faint petroglyphs above.


Upper Petroglyphs
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We eventually reached the intersection with the Angel Arch Trail.


Intersection
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

While setting up camp, we noticed pictographs on these rocks above.


Camp View
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When Dave and I climbed up there for a closer look, I wasn't convinced they were authentic. They looked more modern to me.


Closer Look
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We then found our way over to the Bighorn Ruins, which is another large complex of ruins on a high ledge.


Ledge Ruins
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

That's where I saw a few similar pictographs to the ones we had just visited above our campsite. This made me think that maybe they are authentic?


Similar
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We found something at these ruins that I have not seen before, a constructed staircase. Very unusual!


Staircase
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

At first we thought these ruins were also inaccessible like the Big Ruins, however I managed to find a route up. Unfortunately, it was pretty sketchy and I was only able to make it half-way up. Dave did manage to climb up to the top, though.


Going Up
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

While Dave was visiting the ruins above, I noticed the reverse handprint visible through the window of this structure.


Through the Door
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Here's a view of the route to the ruins. Dave had a little trouble getting back down and this was taken when he was relieved to make it past the most difficult part.


Route
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Back at Angel Arch Camp.


Angel Arch Camp
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Shortly before sunset I headed out with my camera near camp to photograph reflections.


Sandstone Reflection
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Salt Creek Reflection
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Cottonwood Reflection
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

On Saturday we had been going back and forth on whether or not we wanted to hike to Angel Arch for sunrise the following morning since we would have a long hike back to the Jeep afterwards. In the end we decided it would be stupid not to take the three mile round trip hike to the arch since we were so close. I am glad we made that decision since the clouds in the sky and light on the arch just after sunrise was pretty nice.

Sunlight just touching the top of Angel Arch when I arrived.


First Light
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Molar Rock and Angel Arch in early morning light. What a beautiful scene and great way to start the day!


Angel Arch
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Angel Arch Morning
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After returning to camp and packing up, we started the long hot hike out. Not only would this be the longest day of hiking with our packs on, it was also the warmest. The only saving grace was the overcast sky which stuck around until we reached Peekaboo Spring. Then it was a hot sand slog under the sun.

Hiking under the overcast sky.


Reflection & Dave
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Hiking Out
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We made sure to visit the Flying Carpet pictograph panel on the way.


Flying Carpet Panel
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Cat Man
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

...and of course we stopped to rest and check out the rock art at Peekaboo.


Peekaboo
by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After Peekaboo I didn't take any more photos, I just powered through to reach the Jeep near Cave Spring since I have hiked and driven this section plenty of times in the past. We had to drive back up and get my Jeep from the upper trailhead and then we drove to Moab to finish off the trip with a burger and a Coke from the Blue Pig. Then it was an hour and a half of driving and I was back home again. This was definitely a trip I will not forget!

>> Salt Creek Canyon Photo Gallery
>> The Original Trip Report on ADVENTR.CO

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slide.jpg
 

Clint_N

Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2014
Messages
42
I have never hike Salt Creek Canyon but it's on my list. This TR and the amazing photos have now moved it way up on the list. Thanks for posting.
 

steve

Member
Joined
Dec 11, 2013
Messages
2,140
Incredible photos randy. I've been watching for this TR for quite a while. Thanks for taking the time to post this.
 

Yvonne

I lava it!!!
Joined
Jan 19, 2012
Messages
3,632
great trip report Randy. Brings back so many memories of our trip from last year. And you found new stuff I haven't seen yet which means I need to go back in the future.
I guess one of these days I have to post my report from last year.

Angel Arch at sunrise is always a pleasure and I like your shot of SC 3, it's my favorite campsite in Salt Creek.
 

IntrepidXJ

ADVENTR
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
3,349
Sarcasm? Surely readers understanding the contentious history of this canyon will know the answer...

Not sarcasm, I really didn't know. But it makes sense since they didn't used to allow firearms in all National Parks, but that rule was overturned a few years back.
 

DAA

Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2012
Messages
715
I really didn't know either and I was curious. I knew it wouldn't be a crossed out Jeep, not at that boundary (it's never been possible to drive anywhere near that sign). Thanks Ms. Buffalo!

- DAA
 

Bob

Trailmaster
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
2,645
I would guess a few years ago when the Parks allowed firearms they had to take that part of the sign off.
 

Eugene

Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2012
Messages
139
Did salt creek a couple of years ago - a bit late in season (Early June) - and was quite hot. Did it with a shuttle starting at Cathedral Butte and out down at the Park. Very nice pictures.
 

Curt

Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2014
Messages
403
Great trip report. I've never been up Salt Creek Canyon past Peekaboo. Its been on the bucket list for a while but I live too far away, have too many responsibilities and life is too short.....

I also thought firearms were prohibited in National Parks. I ran into some guys on horseback while backpacking in Badlands N.P. a few years back and was shocked to see that they were armed. The last couple times I caught rides from Park Rangers (RMNP & Canyonlands) they were armed like they were going to war. Maybe that makes sense in Alaska or a border park like Big Bend , but Colorado and Utah? What the heck is going on? I can't help but think weapons in National Parks are a bad thing.
 

steve

Member
Joined
Dec 11, 2013
Messages
2,140
Let's take the firearm debate to another thread and keep this wonderful trip report pristine. :)

I can't wait to get down there. Next year for sure.
 
Last edited:

Ben

Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2014
Messages
1,873
in Grand Teton. the restrictions under the mileages.
036.JPG

signs like this all through the park etched out just the same.



i found one they missed though.
309.JPG



also, great trip report.
 
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