Just like with the neighboring Fry Canyon area, White Canyon offers some of the most adventurous canyoneering opportunities that can be imagined! White Canyon is a pale sandstone basin that drains into the Colorado River on the northeast end of Lake Powell. Part of this vast high desert wilderness lies within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area boundaries and the rest is within BLM Public Lands and the neighboring National Monuments. Utah State Road 95 runs alongside the actual White Canyon ravine all the way to Hite, so this destination is easy to find. Upon arrival, it will be easy to see that accessing this canyon on foot will require both preparation and determination, because this water carved landscape is one of the most rugged on earth.
Most of the popular White Canyon canyoneering attractions are located on the east side of SR 95 between Fry Canyon and Hite. When looking from above, this pale sandstone area looks like a maze of deep narrow water carved gullies and slot canyons. The Black Hole is one of the best areas to experience during the hot summer season, because this area is usually covered with water and quite a bit of wading is involved. There are also endless miles of dry canyon destinations to explore and this is best done during the cool weather seasons so the backpack is not weighed down with an extra gallon of water. Heavy duty backpacking equipment will be required for any adventure in White Canyon north of the paved road and climbing gear along with waterproofing may be necessary. This is a very remote place with little chance of timely rescue, so it is best to to do some research when planning the trek.
On the west side of State Road 95 near Hite, White Canyon cuts through the eroded red rock mountains within the boundaries of the National Recreation Area all the way to Lake Powell. The walk to the water's edge used to be a short distance many years ago, but because of water depletion, it is now quite a long hike. In this area there are two marked dirt roads along SR 95 that go to where the lake water used to be. Both end at the same dry wash gulley that is now a silt basin that is very easy for a 4x4 vehicle to get stuck in. From that point, the hike to Lake Powell through the lower end of White Canyon begins.
Because water depletion has made this end of Lake Powell less attractive for water sports enthusiasts, the White Canyon access road has basically now turned into an unmaintained abandoned dirt road. Much of this road has been wiped out by flash floods and the bare bedrock sections are very rough. At the end point, the banks of the dry wash gulley are steep and silty, so only a modified 4x4 or ATV can continue on from this point.
The White Canyon access road may not be as popular as it used to be, but for those who drive a rugged vehicle it still may be worth checking out. There are very few tire tracks on this dirt trail, so this destination does present a chance to escape from the big crowds. Primitive camping is an option in this region and the views of White Canyon cutting through the red rock outcrops are what a landscape artist dreams of. The dirt road may be rough in this unforgiving place, but the reward is to experience a place on earth that few others have the opportunity to see!
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