Calf Canyon

Round Trip Distance: 5.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 5215 - 5484 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Time: 3 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Buckhorn Draw MM 21.5/7.6
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic canyon, rock art

Calf Canyon is located in the Buckhorn Draw area of the San Rafael Swell between Green River and Price, Utah. A four wheel drive road that travels up the belly of the canyon for two and a half miles or so provides easy access to hikers and such. Near the junction of Calf Canyon and Cow Canyon there are two south facing alcoves that contain a few petroglyphs and pictographs as well as numerous sharpening grooves and grinding surfaces (metates).

To get there from Interstate 70 take Exit 131 and head north on the Buckhorn Draw Road. At Exit 131 the Temple Mountain Road is on the south side of the Interstate and the Buckhorn Draw Road is on the north. The Buckhorn Draw Road starts out heading back east paralleling the Interstate for the first 3.5 miles or so before it turns away and starts heading north.

The trailhead at the mouth of Calf Canyon is 21.5 miles from Interstate 70 or 7.6 miles from the Green River Cutoff Road if coming from the direction of Price. There isn't a sign that says 'Calf Canyon' but it is the only canyon between the San Rafael River and the Buckhorn Draw Pictograph Panel with a road heading up it. While there isn't a restroom here at the trailhead there are a couple at the San Rafael River Campground and one at the Buckhorn Draw Panel. There are numerous primitive campsites all along the Buckhorn Draw Road and for those that don't have their own groover it is strongly suggested that you drive to one of the restrooms to do your business.

A short distance from the trailhead is a gate. Be sure to leave the gate as you find it which is usually closed.

Keep to the left at the first split in the canyon where Pine Canyon branches off on the right.

The next mile or so of Calf Canyon travels through an area where natural springs provide enough water to support a good number of cottonwood trees. The springs are probably also what attracted people to the canyon over the past centuries or even millenia.

For the last 3/4 of a mile or so the trail climbs up onto a sandy bench and cuts across a meadow. It is here that the next fork where Cow Canon branches off on the right begins coming into view.

A little further along the twin alcoves can be seen on the left. If the alcoves are your ultimate destination then begin looking for a single track trail that heads in that direction. If you are driving a jeep or ATV then keep going until you get to the fork in the canyon and you will find places to park. The jeep road comes to an end at a turnaround at the mouth of Cow Canyon.

Up to this point the hike is about as easy as they come. It only gets harder if you climb up to the alcoves. Due to all the loose rocks below the alcove on the left it is the hardest one to climb up to and it only has a few sharpening grooves and grinding surfaces. It does have a very nice view of the valley but no rock art. If you want to climb up to it be warned that the rocks and dirt are so loose that there is literally no solid footing or hand holds. We were careful not to dislodge any of the boulders that surely would have crushed us to death. The alcove on the right is relatively easy to access in comparison by just scrambling up its talus slope.

This alcove has numerous metates and other grinding surfaces upon some of the boulders as well as some sharpening grooves where tools and weapons would have been honed.

Petroglyphs like these concentric circles can be found upon a few of the boulders.

This photo is of some Barrier Canyon Style pictographs what are mostly faded away. Notice on the right the arcing line of winged orbs that are common on many BCS panels.

There are two large geometric patterns pecked into the back wall of the alcove. One of them looks like it has been chalked and the other looks more like it was traced with charcoal. We aren't expert enough to say but would guess that the tracings were not part of the original rock art.

Another large but faded pictograph looks like a line of dark clouds from which rain is falling and perhaps a bolt of lightening.

We watched a couple of jeeps work their way in and out of Calf Canyon. While there are a few places where the road gets rocky the only thing that seemed to give the jeeps much trouble was the loose sand climbing out of a couple of the washes which they had to back up and get a run at. Mountain bikes would probably have to hike those spots but other than that they shouldn't have it too bad. For those that like hiking in redrock canyons where the walls soar a thousand feet above your head and that are also interested in wondering at the hushed echos of the areas ancient inhabitants then Calf Canyon should provide an excellent opportunity for explorations. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.