Overview

This remote slot canyon hike features beautiful sculpted narrows with the added challenge of surmounting small obstacles throughout the canyon. The obstacles range in difficulty and can change as flood events reshape the canyon. Most consist of dryfalls and rock jams with drops in the 10-15 foot range. A 40-foot length of rope and at least one person with basic slot canyon climbing skills is recommended. This hike is suitable for older children and adults in good physical condition with slot canyon experience. This area has no official trails or signs and is lightly visited. Excellent navigation skills are required. 

Trailhead

The hike to Moonshine Wash begins just off of the Lower San Rafael Road, south of Green River, UT. To reach the trailhead from Main Street in Green River, UT:

  1. Turn south onto Broadway/150 West and continue 0.2 miles to Green River Avenue.
  2. Turn left onto Green River Avenue and continue 0.3 miles to Airport Road.
  3. Turn right onto Airport Road and continue 2.4 miles to the Lower San Rafael Road (gravel).
  4. Continue on the Lower San Rafael Road for 25.1 miles to the unsigned junction with the trailhead access road on the right (west).
  5. Turn right onto the access road and continue .25 miles.
  6. You may park here, or if you are in a capable high clearance 4WD vehicle, continue down the road for another .10 miles and then turn left.
  7. Continue driving .65 miles to the 4WD trailhead at the end of the road.

The Hike

From the 4WD trailhead, begin hiking down the wash heading southwest. Watch for landmarks as you hike down the canyon to aid in the return. There are many similar looking washes in this area and it could be easy to take a wrong turn on the way out.

Continue hiking in the wash bottom for .75 miles to the confluence with Moonshine Wash. A small dryfall appears to block access down into Moonshine but it is easily climbed down on a network of ledges.

Once in Moonshine Wash, continue hiking down canyon. A shallow slot begins immediately. Continue hiking down canyon as the slot becomes deeper, narrower, and more elegant. Frequent small boulder obstacles will present themselves before arriving at the first of a handful of larger obstacles in the canyon at about the one-mile mark. Before proceeding down any of these drops, carefully evaluate whether your group is comfortable with getting down as well as back up. If there is water or mud present, it can make climbing on the way back up significantly more difficult. Be sure to bring a 40’ length of rope to assist beginners.

As you work your way through the beautiful, narrow slot, look above you for a chance to see an old sheep bridge spanning the canyon in one of the narrowest spots. Perched approximately 80 feet above the canyon floor, this bridge is very old and should not be trusted if you decide to return via the rim walk rather than the way you came.

About 1.5 miles from the 4WD trailhead, and just beyond the sheep bridge, the slot canyon ends and the wash widens. You can return the way you came for a roughly 3.0 mile round trip hike, or if you want a longer hike, you can continue down canyon and exit to the rim. This adds about 2 miles to the total length of the hike as well as significantly more elevation change and route finding difficulties.

To complete the loop hike option, continue hiking down canyon another mile to a bowl on the left canyon wall that allows access to the canyon rim on the left (38.698994,-110.180592). Climb to the top and then follow the rim back to where you first entered Moonshine Wash. Walking the rim is somewhat difficult due to several intersecting canyons and the lack of a trail or canyon to follow. Do not attempt this route without a good map and GPS and good navigation skills.

Rules & Regulations

  • Do not draw or carve on rocks.
  • Drive only on designated routes.
  • Clean up after pets.
  • Pack out all trash.

Special Consideration

  • This area can be extremely hot during spring, summer and fall. Carry plenty of water and wear appropriate clothing.
  • Do not enter canyons when significant precipitation is in the forecast. Flash floods can strike quickly and without warning.
  • Do not descend any obstacles in the canyon that you are sure you cannot get back up.

Credits

This trail guide is provided by Backcountry Post.