Round Trip Distance: 3 miles
Elevation: 5208 - 5506 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Usage: Hiking - Dogs
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: South Temple Wash
View Eye of Sinbad in a larger map
The Eye of Sinbad is located in the San Rafael Swell between Temple Mountain and Goblin Valley State Park. The 'Eye' refers to the window opening in the roof of a cave or giant alcove. The location doesn't seem to really have any official name and it can be found on the internet under various other monikers. Wild Horse Window probably because it is near Wild Horse Creek and the hole can be referred to as a window although that is usually reserved for holes in the side of a rock whereas eye is normally used for holes that are more of a skylight or in the top of a rock. It is also listed as the Eyes of Sinbad probably because when you approach the cave there is another cave beside it which can be viewed as a pair of eyes. That doesn't give any acknowledgement to the fact that there is an eye in the top of the cave. Another site uses the name of Spirit Arch which happens to already be the official name of another location in Utah. Nobody has suggested Spirit Cave which would seem appropriate considering the Barrier Canyon style rock art in the cave. With the Head of Sinbad nearby maybe the persons that came up with that name were just trying to continue the theme.
Using the Get Directions feature of Google Maps will get you pretty close to where the hike begins but since this isn't an official trailhead with a sign and all a little more information will be helpful. Take exit 149 off Interstate 70 for Highway 24 as though heading to Hanksville or Lake Powell. After about 24 miles turn right onto Temple Road which is marked by a sign for Goblin Valley State Park. Follow Temple Road to the Goblin Valley Road which is about 5 miles and turn left as though going to Goblin Valley. Follow the Goblin Valley Road for only about 3 tenths of a mile and turn right onto a dirt road that angles west toward the Swell. The road is passable with a 2-wheel drive car. Continue straight for about a quarter mile to the parking area above the wash. The trail crossing the wash is visible from here as is Wild Horse Canyon and the top of the cave to the right of the canyon.
There are various directions for how to get to the cave but the best route is probably the shortest and less complicated to understand. If you are starting from this parking area you simple cross South Temple Wash and pick a line up the slickrock to the cave.
The trail into the wash is very obvious from the parking area. There are several side trails that some people have taken in a couple of spots but they all put you into the wash. If you are into rock-hounding the area around the wash is fun to explore where you can find agate, petrified wood (mostly the gray variety), moqui balls, jasper and alabaster to name just a few.
After ascending the hill on the west side of the wash the trail drops back down just a little to the base of the slickrock. There are cairns in place to follow that are helpful as the trail disappears on the rock.
The cairns seem to disappear a short distance up the slickrock. There is a cairn near the ridge that can be a little hard to see. There is also a cairn to the south just above Wild Horse Canyon that is for people coming from that direction. That route works also but the easiest way to go is to continue up the slickrock until you can pick up the cairns again or until you can see the cave further up the mountain.
The draws below the cave are filled with loose sand. The rest of the route is fairly obvious from this point. Simply follow the drainage the rest of the way up the mountain to the cave.
The cave, with its eye, is a welcome site when you finally arrive no matter what time of the year it happens to be. A natural seep lines the side of the cave about halfway up the wall.
The Barrier Canyon style rock art is a dead give away that people have been finding shelter here for thousands of years. I can't imagine it being too hospitable during dry weather though. There are several large pools below the cave but they dry up rather quickly.
The cave has a very peaceful atmosphere. It is possible to hear some of the traffic from the surrounding area as it tends to echo off the cliffs.
The black patina does well to accentuate the Eye of Sinbad.
There are lots of places to visit along the San Rafael Swell from the slot/crack canyons to Goblin Valley. There are a couple of campgrounds near the Temple Mountain/Goblin Valley intersection along with a campground at Goblin Valley State Park that has running water and showers. We set up our tent a few hundred yards from the trailhead along a side road. A person could camp for a week in this area and still not see all the places that there are to go. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.