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Steve, Katherine, and Norah | profile | all galleries >> Utah 2013: Long Canyon & Gravel Canyon Loop tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Utah 2013: Long Canyon & Gravel Canyon Loop

In May 2013, my friend Brad and I traveled to Utah for our annual backpacking trip. After a lot of research and waffling on where we should invest our time, we decided on the Long Canyon & Gravel Canyon Loop in the White Canyon Wilderness of Southern Utah. This route was pioneered by Steve Allen and is documented in Allen's book Canyoneering 2: Technical Loop Hikes in Southern Utah. We were drawn to this particular route due to its remoteness, opportunity for solitude, technical challenge, and promise of sustained interest in the form of canyon narrows, swimming, scrambling, and technical canyoneering. The route surely did not disappoint.

I must mention that this route was superbly researched and documented by Mr. Allen. The route is not obvious and must have taken weeks in the wilderness to piece together. Allen guides you to various cracks and breaks into otherwise impenetrable walls that allows this route to "go". Mr. Allen also documents well when you should stay high and where you should stay low in the canyons in order to avoid cliff-outs that would require you retrace your steps. I can only imagine the number of hours Allen must have invested in documenting this spectacular route.

As far as the actual route, as promised, it was continuously interesting. Hiking up Long Canyon we were presented with wonderful narrows, many cold swims (bring your wetsuit!), and numerous side canyons begging for exploration. Campsites in Long Canyon were simply spectacular and we saw the Milky Way like never before. After Long Canyon you make the long traverse between Long and Gravel Canyons. Walking on slick rock benches one gains a couple thousand feet and is presented with wonderful views of the Henry Mountains and Jacob's Chair. Eventually you make your way to the head of Gravel Canyon and if you thought Long Canyon was fun, just wait! Gravel Canyon is a very large and complex canyon system with many side canyons. In Gravel Canyon the canyoneer is presented with innumerable boulder problems, astounding and sustained narrows, much swimming, and a technical canyoneering section that rivals the best on the Colorado Plateau. Additionally, Gravel Canyon offers no less that six major side canyons, each with their own set of interesting narrows.

I rate our trip in the White Canyon Wilderness above all previous desert trips that Brad and I have done, far surpassing our Choprock, Neon, Ringtail trip in Escalante from two years ago. The only bad thing about this trip is that I don't think it can be surpassed; it is truly the best on the Colorado Plateau.

After our main backpacking trip Brad and I descended a few other canyons in the area before returning home. We enjoyed Fry Canyon, Black Hole, and Leprechaun Canyon. These three descents are also documented below.
Entering White Canyon
Entering White Canyon
Brad in Short Canyon
Brad in Short Canyon
Brad in Short Canyon
Brad in Short Canyon
Long Canyon Chockstone
Long Canyon Chockstone
Long Canyon Narrow
Long Canyon Narrow
Long Canyon Narrows
Long Canyon Narrows
Long Canyon Narrows
Long Canyon Narrows
Long Canyon Alcove
Long Canyon Alcove
Long Canyon Hiking
Long Canyon Hiking
Long Canyon First Wet Narrows
Long Canyon First Wet Narrows
Long Canyon First Wet Narrows
Long Canyon First Wet Narrows
Long Canyon First Wet Narrows
Long Canyon First Wet Narrows
Long Canyon First Wet Narrows
Long Canyon First Wet Narrows
Long First Side Canyon
Long First Side Canyon
Long First Side Canyon
Long First Side Canyon
Long Canyon Hiking
Long Canyon Hiking
Long Canyon Hiking
Long Canyon Hiking
Long Canyon Hiking
Long Canyon Hiking
Long Canyon Hiking
Long Canyon Hiking
Long Canyon Hiking
Long Canyon Hiking
Long Canyon Side Canyon
Long Canyon Side Canyon
Long Canyon Side Canyon
Long Canyon Side Canyon
Long Canyon Side Canyon
Long Canyon Side Canyon
Long Canyon Side Canyon
Long Canyon Side Canyon
Long Canyon Side Canyon
Long Canyon Side Canyon
Long Canyon Crux Narrows
Long Canyon Crux Narrows
Long Canyon Side Canyon
Long Canyon Side Canyon
Long Canyon Side Canyon
Long Canyon Side Canyon
Long Canyon Side Canyon 3
Long Canyon Side Canyon 3
Long Canyon Side Canyon
Long Canyon Side Canyon
 Long Canyon Side Canyon
Long Canyon Side Canyon
Long Canyon Side Canyon
Long Canyon Side Canyon
Long Canyon Exit
Long Canyon Exit
Night 2 Sunset
Night 2 Sunset
Night 2 Sunset
Night 2 Sunset
Day 3 Morning Campsite
Day 3 Morning Campsite
Class 5 Climb
Class 5 Climb
Pano of Long Canyon
Pano of Long Canyon
Pano of Long Canyon
Pano of Long Canyon
Gravel Canyon First Narrows
Gravel Canyon First Narrows
Upclimbing Gravel Canyon Narrows
Upclimbing Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Chockstone
Gravel Canyon Chockstone
Gravel Canyon Hiking
Gravel Canyon Hiking
Gravel Canyon Descending Narrows
Gravel Canyon Descending Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Boulder
Gravel Canyon Boulder
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Day Four Hanging Garden
Day Four Hanging Garden
Day 4 Cedar Mesa Bench Walking
Day 4 Cedar Mesa Bench Walking
Day 4 Supr Slot from Above
Day 4 Supr Slot from Above
Ruins
Ruins
Ruins
Ruins
 Superslot
Superslot
Superslot Rap
Superslot Rap
Superslot
Superslot
Superslot
Superslot
Superslot
Superslot
Superslot
Superslot
Superslot Rap 2
Superslot Rap 2
Resting
Resting
Brad Alcove
Brad Alcove
Out of the Superslot
Out of the Superslot
More Swimming
More Swimming
Steve Tunnel
Steve Tunnel
Brad Tunnel
Brad Tunnel
Tunnel
Tunnel
Gravel Side Canyon
Gravel Side Canyon
Brad Alcove
Brad Alcove
Side Canyon Narrows
Side Canyon Narrows
End of Side Canyon Narrows
End of Side Canyon Narrows
Natural Bridge
Natural Bridge
Camp Life
Camp Life
Cactus
Cactus
Day 5 Gravel Side Canyon
Day 5 Gravel Side Canyon
Gravel Side Canyon
Gravel Side Canyon
Gravel Side Canyon
Gravel Side Canyon
Gravel Side Canyon
Gravel Side Canyon
Rappel 1
Rappel 1
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Gravel Canyon Narrows
Day 5 Best Narrows
Day 5 Best Narrows
Day 5 Best Narrows
Day 5 Best Narrows
091 - Day 5 Best Narrows.jpg
091 - Day 5 Best Narrows.jpg
Day 5 Best Narrows
Day 5 Best Narrows
Day 5 Best Narrows
Day 5 Best Narrows
Day 5 Best Narrows
Day 5 Best Narrows
Best Narrows Exit
Best Narrows Exit
Alcove Day 5
Alcove Day 5
Cowboy Canyon
Cowboy Canyon
Cowboy Pothole
Cowboy Pothole
Gravel Canyon Opening
Gravel Canyon Opening
Rappel 2
Rappel 2
Fry Cnayon Entry
Fry Cnayon Entry
Fry Canyon Rappel
Fry Canyon Rappel
Fry Canyon Ruins
Fry Canyon Ruins
Brad Fry Ruins
Brad Fry Ruins
View from Ruins
View from Ruins
Black Hole
Black Hole
Black Hole
Black Hole
Black Hole
Black Hole
Black Hole
Black Hole
Black Hole
Black Hole
Black Hole
Black Hole
Black Hole
Black Hole
Cactus Black Hole
Cactus Black Hole
Black Hole Road Walk
Black Hole Road Walk
Leprachaun Approach
Leprachaun Approach
Leprachaun Rappel
Leprachaun Rappel
Lep Narrows
Lep Narrows
Lep High Stem
Lep High Stem
Lep High Stem
Lep High Stem
Lep Narrows
Lep Narrows
Lep Narrows
Lep Narrows
Lep Exit
Lep Exit
Lep Exit
Lep Exit
Lep Exit
Lep Exit
Lep Narrows
Lep Narrows
Lep Exit
Lep Exit
Bull Creek Crossing
Bull Creek Crossing
Henry Mtns Camp
Henry Mtns Camp
Henry Mountains
Henry Mountains
Henry Mountains
Henry Mountains