North Temple Wash

Round Trip Distance: 4 miles
Difficulty: Easy
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 5203 - 5347 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 2 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: North Temple Wash
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic canyon, arches, rock art

North Temple Wash is a narrow canyon near Temple Mountain in the San Rafael Swell between Hanksville and Green River, Utah. High clearance 4x4 vehicles can drive all the way through the wash but those that are interested in seeing various arches and some of the rock art within the wash will have better luck on foot.

To get started find your way to the Temple Mountain Road by heading south on Highway 24 from Interstate 70 for 24 miles or north from Hanksville for 20 miles. Head west on the Temple Mountain Road for 5 miles where there is a pullout and kiosk on the right hand side of the road. Just past the pullout on the left is the turnoff to Goblin Valley. From the pullout follow the dirt road Emery County 1015 for 1 mile to the mouth of North Temple Wash. If you are hiking then find a place out of the way to park. North Temple Wash is the second canyon that you come to after turning off of the pavement. Passenger cars may not be able to make it through the loose sand at the mouth of the first canyon and might have to park near that point with is about a half mile away.

The route through the wash is a continuation of CR# 1015. It starts out relatively smooth but soon encounters places with loose gravely sand and an occasional rocky outcrop.

Expect to see some of the petrified dunes, spires and hoodoos that the San Rafael Swell is noted for as you travel through the reef.

About midway through the reef the route reaches a stretch of narrows and begins twisting and turning as it continues to follow the normally dry streambed that snakes its way between the cliffs.

After passing through the reef the canyon begins to widen.

This photo was taken at a spot where the wash passes through another short section of narrows where there is some interesting rock art on the right and a small arch on the left.

The rock art consists of a number of hands, an anamorph, and various geometric images. The interesting aspect of the panel is that the images are pictographs that were painted on the rock using a cement type of mud. We have seen the same type of pictographs in Dubinky Wash in the Moab area while enroute to the Comet Thrower site.

Across from the pictographs, and about 40 or 50 feet above the wash, is North Temple Wash Arch. The arch is a little hard to see until you get under it. This isn't the only arch in North Temple Wash but it is the only one that we have a name for.

There is another arch a little further up the wash that is actually a double arch although it is hard to see both openings from the same viewing angle.

For this post we turned around at a fork once we made it out of the canyon. It is possible from here to loop around to the Temple Mountain Road and campground.

There are several other petroglyphs and cowboy inscriptions throughout North Temple Wash besides the ones that we pointed out. The ones that we mentioned were the most interesting ones that we came across. Within the wash there are several good primitive campsites that are suitable for tent camping. The wash isn't a good place for pulling most RVs with its sharp corners and high clearance requirements. The slideshow should show enough about North Temple Wash for most people to decide if it appeals to them. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.