Designated in 2009, the Canaan Mountain Wilderness contains 44,447 acres of wilderness in Washington County, Utah, that is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The Canaan Mountain Wilderness is situated just north of the Cottonwood Point Wilderness and south of the Zion National Park.
Elevations in the park range from 4100 to 7400 feet above sea level, and Canann Mountain is a prominent feature in the wilderness area. A unique feature contained within the wilderness areas is the eight by ten-mile block of Navajo Sandstone surrounded by 2000 foot high, white sandstone cliffs, which has been eroded by wind and water to create geological formations, canyons, and natural stone arches.
High plateaus and slickrock protrusions are vegetated by ponderosa pine and douglas fir, while lower elevations boast pinyon pine, Utah juniper, scrub oak, and sagebrush. Fissures in the canyon walls where water is present have created a sort of “hanging garden” with maidenhair fern, monkey flower, and columbine clinging to the shear walls. Seasonal moisture and riparian areas support vegetation and wildlife. Riparian areas are concentrated along South Creek, Water Canyon Creek Squirrel Creek, and drainages in the canyon wilderness.
Recreational activities in the Canaan Mountain Wilderness include cycling, hiking, equestrian riding, wilderness watching, sightseeing, and primitive camping. Nearby Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
provides designated campgrounds for RVs nearby. Need an RV to explore the area? Try Utah RV Rentals.
Canaan Mountain Wilderness is located just north of Colorado City, Arizona, in the state of Utah, just north of the state border. To reach the main trailhead in Canaan Mountain Wilderness area from Interstate 15, take Exit 16 to State Highway 9 towards Zion National Park. In downtown Hurricane, turn right on Main Street, then left on Highway 59. Proceed 24 miles to Hildale, Utah, and take a left on Utah Avenue, which curves left to become Canyon Street. When you reach the junction for Water Canyon Road, turn right and follow the road to the trailhead that provides hiking access to the wilderness area.
There are access roads to other trailheads in the region; however, these access roads are naturally surfaced and may not be appropriate for RVs and tow trailers. These dirt roads have rough terrain and can become especially challenging to navigate in dry, dusty conditions or wet conditions. The temperatures in the region are extremely hot in summer, and snow can occur at higher elevations in the winter. Ensure your vehicle is in good condition for traveling in extreme weather conditions.
If you are traveling with an RV and choose to camp at the designated campground in Coral Pink Dunes State Park, which is a 37 minute drive from the Canaan Mountain Wilderness area, you will need to head south across the Utah/Arizona state border, then east on Route 237, and north on Route 43 back to Utah, to reach the campground. This route is paved and easy to traverse for large units and travel trailers.
If you are looking for a developed campground for RV camping near Canaan Mountain Wilderness, Coral Pink Sand Dune State Park’s sandy playground is a great spot for camping and fun in the sand!
The park features 300 feet high sand dunes which are great for play with off-road vehicles, tubing, and sand boarding. The campground has 17 campsites, 16 of which are individual sites with room for moderate-sized RVs up to 40 feet, and one group campsite. With the exception of the group campsite, there's only room for one vehicle at each spot.
Sites are pull-through and are easily accessible, and the campground is open all year round but has no electric or water hookups. Sites have fire pits and picnic tables and are paved. Amenities at the campground include a comfort station, drinking water supply, RV dump station, hot showers, restrooms with flush toilets, and a visitor center. Visitors have access to hiking trails and interpretive nature programs at the visitor center, as well as an OHV zone in the sandhills for the adventurous to try some motorized fun.
Primitive backcountry camping is permitted in the Canaan Mountain Wilderness area as per Bureau of Land Management policies. Campers are encouraged to follow the “Leave No Trace” principles, which include utilizing previously occupied camping sites on hard ground and disrupting natural vegetation as little as possible.
The backcountry conditions in the area are harsh, with extreme weather and landscape. Knowledge of backcountry camping practices, proper gear, and adequate supplies, including plenty of water, will be necessary to ensure a safe backcountry camping experience. While backpacking in the Canaan Mountain Wilderness, visitors will enjoy the pristine wilderness, solitude, dark night skies, and unique geological formations that make up the wilderness area. Permits are not required. However, you should ensure that someone off-site knows of your plans in the area and your expected time of return. Stays at individual sites are limited to 14 days in all BLM lands.
Interesting rock formations have been created by millennia of wind and water erosion on the Navajo Sandstone landscape at Canaan Mountain Wilderness. The area consists of a promontory, which is a raised mass of land projecting into the lowland region.
The promontory is surrounded by the 2000 foot high cliffs of Navajo Sandstone and separated from the nearby Vermillion Cliffs, which are the second of the five-step “Grand Staircase” of the Colorado Plateau by a wide bench of soft mudstone. The ravages of time have carved the sandstone into arches, ridges, passageways, and canyons, which creates a fascinating geological landscape just waiting to be explored.
There are 14 hiking trails in the Canaan Mountain Wilderness. These trails are not maintained regularly, nor marked, so hikers should be prepared with local maps and appropriate gear. Several hiking routes in the Canaan Mountain Wilderness provide access to the high elevations up the steep canyon walls. Elevation changes are significant, and the terrain is rough, so hiding these can be strenuous but rewarding, with spectacular vistas.
The Sawmill Trail is less strenuous, following a historic logging trail, and providing access to a large portion of the wilderness area. Eagle Crags Trail is located in the northern side of the park and provides access to Eagles Crag at an elevation of 5200 feet. The temperature in the area is extremely hot in the summer and cold in the winter, so hiking during the transitional seasons is a good option.
The hiking trails in Canaan Mountain Wilderness are also open to equestrian and cycling activities. There are difficult trails; however, 10 of the trails are rated as moderate and range from 4.5 to 16.6 miles with elevations between 5085 and 6948 feet above sea level and may be more ideal for horseback riding and cycling.
Terrain and climate in the area can be extreme, so strenuous trail activity in the area is best conducted during the spring and fall, when temperatures and weather conditions are more moderate. Steep, rough terrain requires expertise, so ensure you have appropriate safety equipment when venturing out in the wilderness area. Horses used for equestrian activities should be fit and acclimatized to conditions, and bicycles should be well maintained, outfitted, and geared for steep elevation changes and hazardous terrain.
The unique terrain and riparian resources of the Canaan Mountain Wilderness are homes to a variety of flora and fauna. Seeps in the canyon walls support growths of vegetation, which creates a “hanging garden” effect. Pine and fir trees crown the plateau, and lowland riparian areas are dense with native vegetation taking advantage of the water sources.
Animal species you can spot living in the region include bobcats, mule deer, mountain lions, and black bears, as well as raptors such as hawks, peregrine falcons, and golden eagles. Bighorn sheep that have recently been reintroduced to the Zion National Park just north of Canaan Mountain Wilderness occasionally wander down to the canyon terrain in the region.
Bird species also include quail and mourning dove, and sensitive species such as the desert shrew, spotted bat, and Lewis’s woodpecker are rare creatures that can be found in the area.
When the weather is too extreme for outdoor activities, with high summer temperatures, or cold winter weather, try some indoor exploration in climate-controlled comfort at the nearby Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument visitor centers.
Big Water Visitor Center is just over a one and a half hour drive from Canaan Mountain Wilderness and maintains summer hours with a paleontology and geology theme. Here you will discover a 30-foot mural depicting the late Cretaceous Period, dinosaur fossils, and a topographical model of the monument.
The Kanab Visitor Center is just over a one hour drive from Canaan Mountain Wilderness and maintains summer and winter hours. The theme of this visitor center is Archeology and Geology, and visitors can check out the large scale archeology excavation diorama, a 36-foot geological cross-section of the monument, and a topographical relief model of the monument area.
Just over a half-hour drive away Canaan Mountain Wilderness, visitors can spend some time at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. Some of these dunes are up to 300 feet in height. The dunes provide opportunities for recreational activities such as ATVing and OHVs as well as dunes for sandboarding and play. Sandboarding is much like snowboarding, but on sand hills!
ATVs, OHVs, sandboard equipment, and sand toys such as sleds and tubes can be rented in the nearby town of Kanab. Tour companies and outfitters, also located in Kanab, can provide expert guidance to recreational activities in the sand dunes. The fall is the best time for sand dune activities when the sand temperatures are cooler.