Inaccessible Alcove

Round Trip Distance: 1.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5355 - 5429 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 1 hrs. 45 mins.
Trailhead: Flint Trail Rd. MM 29.1
Fee: none
Attractions: BCS pictographs

Inaccessible Alcove is located in the Orange Cliffs Unit of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area near Hite, Utah. The name is our own that was given when we found the alcove and noticed a few small Barrier Canyon Style pictographs and realized that we couldn't safely climb into it to get suitable photos. The images in the alcove are interesting enough to share the photos of even though they aren't the greatest.

To get there from Hanksville head south on UT-95 for 46.5 miles and turn left onto the unmarked Flint Trail Road, a.k.a. NP 633. Proceed for 29.1 miles to where the road crosses the wash of Clearwater Canyon. It takes a medium clearance vehicle to travel the Flint Trail Road up to this point. While 4wd is always preferable for extra insurance you are not likely to need it during good conditions just as long as you don't go beyond this point. The kiosk at the beginning of the Flint Trail Road warns that there are no water sources along the road and to be ready to self rescue. There is a junction a little after the 19 mile point where you will need to stay to the right. A map is highly recommended to bring along. The Glen Canyon NRA map doesn't show this area very well but the main Canyonlands Nat. Geo. Trails Illustrated map shows the entire route.

For this post we parked on the slickrock where the Flint Trail crosses the wash at the 28.8 mile point from UT-95.

From there we followed the shallow wash to the north so that we could explore the cliffs in that direction.

Once reaching the cliffs we went to the right and traveled around them until we reached another wash that is a branch of Clearwater Canyon. A short distance up the wash the alcove became visible in a stub canyon on the left. At this point we had already gotten a glimpse of one of the pictographs.

As we headed up the side canyon we spooked a rattlesnake back beneath a rock so that is something to watch out for. The temperature was in the upper 70's with overcast skies and those were perfect conditions for rattlesnakes to be out during the day. To get up to the pictographs we would have had to scoot across the rottne looking sloped slickrock between the two alcoves.

Since we weren't at all comfortable with doing that we opted to climb the side of the canyon opposite the alcove and take some pictures with the zoom lens from there.

The problem with that was it was a couple hundred feet away and the pictographs aren't all that big. We had to settle for what we could get. The following 2 photos are cropped images that we couldn't enlarge anymore without them becoming too blurry.

We might be way off in our interpretation but it seems like the person in this image might be supplicating what looks like a snake. Perhaps for a blessing. The person might be holding a child in its arms for which the blessing is being sought or perhaps it is holding an offering or perhaps nothing at all.

This set of images might be the same person receiving the asked for blessing. That could be way off but it is something to consider. Once we got the idea in our heads it was hard to come up with anything else.

This day started off cloudy and looking like rain but eventually began clearing up. There is some great scenery in the area that is worth seeing by itself. This is a photo of Gunsight Butte that is off in the distance near Sunset Pass. There is actually a road that travels between Gunsight Butte and next butte to the right.

After visiting the alcove we hiked up to the end of the next three branches of the canyon that all end at big spillovers. Once we reached the Flint Trail Road again we were in the main wash of Clearwater Canyon. We continued on across the road from there and hiked down to the Perfect Panel. All and all we hiked right at 12 miles. A person just wanting to hike to the Perfect Panel and the Inaccessible Alcove can do it and only log about 5.5 miles. We mentioned the alcove to a Ranger that said she had climbed into it 6 or 7 years ago and didn't plan ever doing so again. It was apparently a memorable experience. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.