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Daily high temperatures in the park often reach or exceed 95F (35C) and remain hot through sundown. Many trails have little to no shade. Avoid hiking during the hottest hours of the day (10 am to 6 pm), and carry and drink water throughout your visit.
Pets are prohibited
on the trail or below the rim of Horseshoe Canyon.
Group size is limited to 20 people. Larger groups must arrange in advance to go with a ranger or split into smaller groups.
Horseshoe Canyon contains some of the most significant rock art in North America. The Great Gallery, the best-known panel in Horseshoe Canyon, includes well-preserved, life-sized figures with intricate designs. Other impressive sights include spring wildflowers, sheer sandstone walls and mature cottonwood groves along the intermittent stream in the canyon bottom. Horseshoe Canyon was added to Canyonlands in 1971.
Need to Know
Visitors may camp at the west rim trailhead on public land managed by the BLM. A vault toilet is provided, but there is no water. Overnight camping is not allowed in Horseshoe Canyon within the Park boundary.
Visitors to this area should be prepared for unpredictable weather (such as rain or sand-shifting wind) that can quickly change road conditions from two-wheel-drive to four-wheel-drive condition. Check road conditions page or call ahead for the current road conditions at (435) 259-2652 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Most visitors access Horseshoe from the west. Two-wheel-drive vehicles can usually travel the 30-mile graded dirt road from Utah Highway 24 (near Goblin Valley State Park), or the 47-mile dirt road traveling south from Green River. Driving time is roughly 2.5 hours from Moab or 1.5 hours from Green River. A four-wheel-drive road leads to the east rim of Horseshoe Canyon from the Hans Flat Ranger Station.
Horseshoe Canyon contains several intriguing rock art panels, including The Great Gallery, which features remarkable life-sized figures and intricate designs. Other highlights include spring wildflowers, sheer sandstone walls and shady cottonwood groves. Visiting every rock art panel involves a round-trip hike of seven miles, so a trip to Horseshoe Canyon usually requires a full day.
Be prepared for hiking on uneven terrain, over steep rocky areas and slogging through sand. The route to the "Great Gallery" is seven miles round-trip, requiring five hours or more. A steep descent of around 780 ft at the beginning of this hike means a steep climb back up at the end of your hike.
Flora & Fauna
Cottonwood groves and many desert wildflowers can be found in the depths of Horseshoe Canyon.
History & Background
Artifacts recovered from sites in this area date back as early as 9000-7000 BC, when Paleoindians hunted megafauna like mastodons and mammoths across the southwest.
Native American rock art found in Horseshoe Canyon is most commonly painted in a style known as Barrier Canyon. This style is believed to date to the Late Archaic period, from 2000 BC to AD 500. During this time, nomadic groups of hunter-gatherers continued to make Horseshoe Canyon their seasonal home.
Though Horseshoe Canyon is most famous for its rock art, the canyons history has many chapters. Hundreds of years after the prehistoric artists left the area, Europeans arrived. Outlaws like Butch Cassidy made use of Horseshoe Canyon in the late 1800s, taking refuge in the confusing network of canyons, especially those around Robbers Roost to the southwest.
Once added to Canyonlands National Park in 1971, grazing & mineral exploration ended in Horseshoe Canyon.
Shared By: Nicholas Shannon
by Dave Wallace