Davis Canyon Road

Rating: 
One-way Distance: 9 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 4880 - 5250 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 3 hrs.
Trailhead: Highway 211
Fee: none
Attractions: Granaries, Davis Canyon access




The Davis Canyon Road is located in the Indian Creek Recreation Area between Moab and Monticello, Utah. The 4-wheel drive road follows a wash from Highway 211 to the Davis Canyon trailhead at the boundary of the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. Enroute it provides access to the Lavender Canyon Road, several minor trails, a few Ancestral Puebloan granaries, and ultimately the Davis Canyon trail where hikers are treated to multiple natural arches, rock art sites and cliff dwellings.


The turnoff is 26 miles from the junction of Highway 211 and Highway 191 which is 8 miles from the Needles District Visitor Center.


The road passes through a gate as it leaves the highway. A short distance from the gate there is a side road that leads down near the creek where there are several primitive campsites. The BLM Superbowl Campground is on the east side of the creek but there isn't a road other than the highway to get there. The Superbowl Campground has recently been improved to include graveled roads, new tables and toilets. Currently it is only $5/night and there are a few sites that can accomodate most RV's.


As the Davis Canyon road heads off toward the wash it is fairly smooth but there are a few places that are rocky as well. The road reaches some cottonwood trees and crosses a side wash where another trail branches off on the right. Shortly past that it travels past an old corral and goes through another gate. This part of the road is adobe dirt that can be impassible when it is wet.


The road smooths out considerably once it enters the main wash of Davis Canyon. There are some nice views of North and South Six Shooter peaks to the right. This part of the wash has enough rock mixed in with the sand to have a semi firm surface for fast travel during dry conditions.


While traveling up the wash the Lavender Canyon Road branches off on the left around the 2.9 mile point.


Around the 6 mile point the wash begins closing in and becomes more constricted. Several springs give rise to more brush and cottonwoods. In places it becomes pretty much impossible to avoid scratching the sides of your vehicle. The road looses a lot of its rock content which gives rise to deeper sand although it is generally firm in the places where it leaves the wash and cuts a course through the sagebrush.


Around the 7 mile point there is a double alcove a hundred yards or so off to the right of the trail where there are a couple of granaries up on the second level. If you keep driving a little there is a somewhat rough spur road that leads over to them. We opted to park on the main road and follow a faint trail that went in that direction.


To get up to the second level alcove you have to hike around the base of the cliff to the right where there is an easy place to climb up. From there a narrow ledge can be followed around to the granaries. Be warned that the ledge gets very narrow with a sharp drop off for a distance of 10-15 feet.


This is a look back at the ledge from the alcove. The narrowest spot is back where the ledge comes around the point of the cliff. The slideshow at the end of this post has a few more pictures. We ended up crabbing our way past it keeping most of our wait on our hands and butts.


We found one other ruin in another alcove that was nearby that had a log for a ladder. There's no real reason to climb the log because the remaining section of wall can be seen just fine from below. It is interesting though how those logs at many of these ruins are still standing right where they were left hundreds of years ago.


A short distance past the granaries the road hits its sandiest spot but it is relatively short and easy to speed through.


As the road comes up out of the wash it reaches the parking area at the Davis Canyon trailhead that is at the border of Canyonlands National Park. We are posting the Davis Canyon Road separate from the Davis Canyon trail to allow for a more lengthy description of each one. Traveling in the backcountry is serious business and at times knowing what an access road is like is necessary to prepare for a successful outing. The Davis Canyon trail itself has so many archaeological sites and natural arches that we couldn't even point them all out even when posting it by itself. There are undoubtedly many more places to explore along the Davis Canyon Road than the few granaries and such that we noticed. The whole area beckons for another visit. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.