Dellenbaugh Tunnel

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 3.6 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 4887 - 5103 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: Dellenbaugh
Fee: none
Attractions: Natural tunnel




The Dellenbaugh Tunnel trail is located northwest of Moab, Utah in the Dubinky Well area. Beginning near Tombstone Butte the trail follows a hiking only route that wraps around the upper end of Spring Canyon to get to a natural tunnel arch that is believed to be named after Frederick S. Dellenbaugh who was a member of the Powell expedition. The tunnel can also be accessed via a short trail that leads over from the Dellenbaugh Trail section of the Secret Spire Jeep Safari Route.


To get to the trailhead follow UT-313 measuring 8.4 miles from the junction of Highway 191 and Highway 313 and turn right onto the Dubinky Well Road at the sign for the Lone Mesa Campground. Turn right again after another 1.5 miles where a sign points toward Dubinky Well. Continue for another 5 miles and turn left where a sign points toward Dripping Spring. After another 2 miles bear left to stay on the Secret Spire Safari Route. A good landmark to head toward is Tombstone Butte which dominates the landscape. After another mile the Secret Spire Safari Route travels around the south side of the butte and splits at the sign in this photo.


If the road is in good condition most vehicles will be able to drive the final quarter mile to the trailhead or simply park near Tombstone Butte and begin hiking from there.


The hiking only trail begins out of the right side of the trailhead where there is a marker with a nice map on it.


The parts of the trail that cross slickrock are marked with stripes of green paint and the parts that are dirt are so well worn that they are pretty easy to follow.


There are a few places that require a little scrambling but nothing that is really difficult.


Just past the half mile point the trail splits and an alternate View Route branches off on the right. The View Route adds another half mile or so by sticking to the higher ground of the domes of slickrock. The main route drops off the slickrock and takes a more direct route across the valley floor. If you know where to look you can pick out the general spot where the Dellenbaugh Tunnel is located on the south side of Spring Canyon.


A short distance after the main route and the view route reconverge the trail reaches the gorge of Spring Canyon and travels around the upper end of it.


As the trail travels along the south side of the canyon there are a couple of spots where the trail gets close to the edge and there is a little exposure. If necessary a person could probably find an alternate route that is more suitable to their comfort level. Try to stay on the slickrock though to avoid making any new trails.


At the point the hiking trail reaches the wash that flows through Dellenbaugh Tunnel it is joined by the short spur that connects to the Secret Spire Safari Route.


A bit of scrambling is required to get down into the wash and the mouth of the tunnel.


The tunnel is clogged with quite a bit of fill but there is a good path going all the way through it.


There is a nice area on the canyon side of the tunnel with some good views and a few short trails to do some further exploring or simply lounge around and enjoy some lunch. Someone has left a register hanging from a juniper that shows that Dellenbaugh Tunnel gets quite a few visitors all year round.


We followed the main hiking route on the way out to Dellenbaugh Tunnel and came back via the View Route. The View Route requires a little bit more effort but it offers some different scenery to look at. Back at Tombstone Butte there were a dozen or so rock climbers camped around the base. Every so often while hiking someone could be spotted standing on the summit. The Secret Spire trail is another short hike that is in the area about another 2.5 miles down the road. As far as Dellenbaugh Tunnel goes, if you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.