Negro Bill Canyon lies a few miles northeast of Moab, with its mouth abutting Highway 128. It winds its way through a sandstone plateau (location of the Slickrock Trail) toward Porcupine Rim.
A very popular hiking trail runs from the trailhead parking lot to a rock formation called Morning Glory Natural Bridge (semantics prevents its being called an arch). The bridge is at the end of a dead-end side canyon. The vast majority of visitors hike to the bridge (1.5 miles one-way) and return to their cars, unaware of landscape delights farther up the main canyon.
Just before the main trail enters the “bridge side canyon,” a lesser trail—blocked off with rocks and sticks---goes up the main canyon. This eventually ascends out of the canyon to reach Sand Flats Recreation Area. Very few visitors explore this upper canyon: in my several visits I have seen fourteen hikers there. I have seen a few hundred in the lower canyon.
My first canyon visit was in 2005. Since then I have returned several times, mostly to explore the upper section. That section of the canyon provides access to what is perhaps my favorite area at Moab: the plateau of fins and domes that lies between the canyon and the Colorado River. That area is covered in the “NBC Fins” gallery. Also part of the canyon is a mesa that called to me and which I circumnavigated.
The canyon is named after William Granstaff, an early resident of the area.