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Fins N Things Canyoneering

Sand Flats Recreation Area, Moab

Moab, Arches + La Sal Mountains, Utah

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Fins N Things Canyoneering

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  • Begin on the Fins N Things jeep track.- Fins N Things Canyoneering
  • This dead tree marks the spot to cut off into the wash.- Fins N Things Canyoneering
  • Tunnel vision of the La Sals through Fins N Things Canyon.- Fins N Things Canyoneering
  • Scrambling down into the canyon.- Fins N Things Canyoneering
  • Exploring the narrows.- Fins N Things Canyoneering
  • Ever narrowing as the slot deepens.- Fins N Things Canyoneering
  • The downclimb chimney in the narrows, a potentially tricky spot.- Fins N Things Canyoneering
  • The first rappel is off of a buried deadman.- Fins N Things Canyoneering
  • The second rappel is down a short dryfall into a possible pool.- Fins N Things Canyoneering
  • Exiting the narrows into North Fork Mill Creek Canyon.- Fins N Things Canyoneering
  • Beaver dam on North Fork Mill Creek.- Fins N Things Canyoneering
  • Mill Creek Waterfall, a refreshing stop near the end of the hike.- Fins N Things Canyoneering
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Easy technical canyon. Swimming holes.
Cons: 
Shuttle required. Limited parking.
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Region:
Moab, Arches + La Sal Mountains, UT
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
-500.00 ft (-152.40 m)
Parking Pass: 
General Day Use Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
3.50 mi (5.63 km)
Trail type: 
Shuttle
Trailhead Elevation: 
4,730.00 ft (1,441.70 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

Fins N Things is a popular jeep trail within Sand Flats Recreation Area, named for the variety of sandstone rock fins that make up the route. A nearby slot canyon shares the name and makes for a great human-powered day trip for canyoneers.

Fins N Things features some tight narrows, squeezes, drops into pools, short rappels, and downclimbs. A major highlight of the journey is actually the final hike out along North Fork of Mill Creek through a wide gorge with refreshing swimming holes.

This canyon is rated as fairly easy, but it does require rappelling and some tricky downclimbing. It is a great introduction to technical canyoneering for beginners with a competent leader. You will need rappelling gear and 60 feet of rope. Pools may or may not be present, depending on recent rainfall. In spring and early summer, count on encountering a few ankle-to waist deep pools. Wetsuits are not normally necessary but would be a good idea during cool or wet weather. If you are worried about any equipment getting wet, bring dry bags.

This canyon requires a vehicle shuttle. The finish is at the mouth of Mill Creek Canyon, accessed via Powerhouse Lane from Moab.

The Route:

Begin from the start of Fins N Things Jeep Trail, 2 miles past the entrance station in campground Loop E. If the campsites here are full, you may have to park elsewhere and walk back along the road. Follow the jeep track for half a mile until you come to a left-hand bend at a large, dead juniper tree. At this spot, turn right off the jeep track into a shallow wash. You are now hiking cross-country, so be sure to stay in the wash or on worn paths to avoid trampling the fragile desert ecosystem. Follow the contour of the wash as feeds into a canyon between rock fins. This is a narrowing and deepening slot that you must descend with a little bit of boulder scrambling and bushwacking. The view from here is impressive as you look straight off the edge of the plateau and across to the La Sal Mountains. This is the last vantage point you will get before disappearing into the slot canyon narrows.

The first significant drop is just before the narrows begin. It can be rappelled or downclimbed. There is no established anchor for the rappel, but you can make one by slinging boulders. To downclimb, traverse out to the left and descend the slab on good holds.

The next drop is an easy downclimb on chockstone boulders, but it is followed immediately by a trickier obstacle. This is a narrow drop of about 15 feet. The quickest method is to simply lower packs to the bottom and chimney-climb down. If you are not comfortable with this, one member of the party can make a body anchor while everyone else rappels, then the person who belayed can downclimb with a spotter. A last resort would be to extend an anchor from chockstones in the drop above, but pulling the rope may be difficult.

Next is the first mandatory rappel, which is from a rock anchor buried in the sand (known as a deadman). Check the webbing here to make sure it is safe, and replace it if necessary. This short rappel ends in a possible pool.

The next drop is also a rappel into a possible pool. Anchor off a tree and descend a dryfall into a brief free hang. This marks the end of the technical section and nearly the end of the narrows. Enjoy the last of the shady walk.

Soon you will feel very exposed as the narrows open up onto the sunny slabs of North Fork of Mill Creek Canyon. Descend the slabs and look for a faint trail at the bottom, then follow it downstream on the right side of the creek. The trail is hard to follow at first, but it becomes gradually more defined as you go. This canyon is truly spectacular--a green oasis hemmed in by massive redrock walls. Keep an eye out for deer and other wildlife, including a particularly unexpected desert dweller--beaver--which inhabit this isolated perennial stream.

The last obstacle of note is a cliffed-out restriction in the canyon. Here you must either swim across a wide, deep, and very refreshing pool, or climb up and around. To take the dry route, follow a rocky trail up and to the right, then go left to the cliff's edge. Look around for the shortest possible descent route. At the proper spot, there is a series of ledges and cut footholds that will deliver you safely to the canyon floor.

Keep hiking along the Fins N Things Trail and you will eventually come to the popular Mill Creek swimming hole, which may catch you off guard with the sudden appearance of other people. Enjoy a refreshing dip here, then continue another mile to the parking lot.

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(8 within a 30 mile radius)

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(52 within a 30 mile radius)

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