Uneva Mine Canyon

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 3.2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 4443 - 4972 feet
Cellphone: 0-1 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: Uneva
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic canyon & mining ruins




Uneva Mine Canyon is located in the San Rafael Swell between Green River and Hanksville, Utah. Situated between Moonshine Wash and Three Finger Canyon the Uneva Mine Canyon was home to a uranium and vanadium mining operation that began back in 1955. Besides the Uneva Mine there is also the remains of several mine shacks that served as quarters with a hopper that sits part way up the canyon wall below another shaft. Uneva Mine Canyon is sometimes combined with Three Fingers Canyon to create a rugged loop.


The shortest route to the trailhead is to drive 12.5 miles west of Green River and turn right onto the dirt road at mile marker 147. Be sure to close the gate after passing through it. From there you can drop down into the wash and take what is labeled on the map as a 4wd underpass. There is also a gate on the eastbound side of the interstate that avoids the underpass. Follow the road south in front of the reef through an area marked on maps as 'The Squeeze' for 3.6 miles where the unmarked Uneva Mine Road branches off on the right. We have seen passenger cars at the Uneva Mine Road that came in this way as well as several minivans.


How far you drive down the Uneva Mine Road before you park and start hiking will depend upon what you are driving. Most people will want to park just before the shallow wash that requires a high clearance vehicle like we did on this trip.


The road ends at a turnaround spot on top a bench near the mouth of Uneva Mine Canyon. It pretty much takes an OHV to make it this far. The last bit of the road leading up to the bench is narrow and washed out.


From the turnaround on the bench the route continues along an old jeep or wagon road that passes into the mouth of the canyon across some uneven slickrock.


From there the route continues up the very rocky wash.


After going around several bends in the wash the Uneva Mine appears on the right. At one time there were some nice picture taking opportunities just inside the mine but the adit was sealed recently making it impossible to enter.


One of the rusty rails that the ore cars rode through the drift is sticking out through the wall that now seals the portal.


Those that would like to see more of the operation can hike a little further through the reef taking the left fork and arrive at the ruins of the old mining camp where bed springs and an old tub from a wringer washer litter the site.


On the other side of the mining camp an old road makes a steep climb that leads up to a mine shaft that sits high up on the side of the hill.


The shaft looks like it was blasted shut to keep people out, or maybe it just caved in, so there's not much to see except some very nice views of the surrounding area. The shaft is reported to have been developed to 100 feet long when it was still being worked.


On another level between the mining camp below and the shaft that is higher up on the mountain are the remains of an old ore chute that was used in the operation. The chute is perched on the cliff right below the shaft and was probably used to load whatever conveyonce they made use of to haul off the ore for processing.


Uneva Mine Canyon is an interesting exploration although it lacks some of the appeal that other San Rafael canyons and washes offer in the way of narrows, slots and rock art. It doesn't get a lot of visitors yet out of the 3 times that we have been there we have always seen someone else. An interesting note about some of the so called uranium mines is that they never produced any ore but were merely a ruse to swindle investors out of their money. We couldn't find out how much ore the Uneva Mine and shaft produced or how much money it generated but it doesn't seem to have been a hoax. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.