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Fry Canyon

Bears Ears National Monument

Canyonlands + Abajo Mountains, Utah

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Fry Canyon

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  • View from the bridge at the start of Fry Canyon.- Fry Canyon
  • Entering the canyon and its first narrows.- Fry Canyon
  • Wavy walls near the start of the canyon.- Fry Canyon
  • After the first narrows, Fry Canyon broadens and heats up in the sun.- Fry Canyon
  • The rappel and start of second narrows.- Fry Canyon
  • Deep and dark in the narrows.- Fry Canyon
  • Ancient ruins high in the walls of Fry Canyon.- Fry Canyon
  • Fry Canyon empties into the expansive White Canyon.- Fry Canyon
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Slot canyon. Ancient ruins.
Cons: 
Hot hike out.
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Region:
Canyonlands + Abajo Mountains, UT
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
-200.00 ft (-60.96 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
5.00 mi (8.05 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
5,260.00 ft (1,603.25 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

Fry Canyon is one of the least committing and most easily accessible technical canyons in the Cedar Mesa region of Utah. Even for experienced canyoneers, however, this one is worth the trip because of its refreshing pools and well-preserved Native American ruins tucked deep within the sandstone walls.

This canyon is suitable for beginners with knowledge of rappelling and proper gear. The one rappel is about 60 feet into a slot which is difficult to see into, and in the bottom is a deep pool. The rappel is off a bolted anchor with slings, but be prepared with your own slings in case the ones you find need replacing.

The journey begins right next to Highway 95. Park near the bridge and walk up the canyon about 50 yards to where you can scramble down into the slot. This is the first narrows, which contains a few pools that may require swimming. This water can be very cold, especially early in the season.

After wading beneath the bridge you will emerge into a wider part of the canyon. Don't worry if you are cold after the swim because the next mile and a half is through a wide, sunny part of the canyon. Take time to admire the sculpted walls and unique canyon vegetation along this hike.

Eventually, seemingly out of nowhere, the bottom of the canyon drops away into a narrow slot. This is the rappel. Descend into the depths and enjoy the cool water once again. These narrows require quite a bit of wading as well as swimming. After slogging out of the final muddy pool, look ahead and upward for the ancient stone ruins. There is a cluster of buildings within an enclave in the canyon wall that are preserved so well because they are inaccessible without ladders or ropes.

Shortly after passing the ruins Fry Canyon opens into the larger White Canyon. From here, turn right to walk up White Canyon toward the exit route. About 75 yards after the first bend in White Canyon look for cairns and a faint trail to your right that leads up a series of dirt ledges and low-angle rock slabs to the rim. There is no other way out for quite a long way, so if you walk for more than 15 minutes and have not seen the exit, you may have passed it and should turn around.

Once on top, retrace the rim of Fry Canyon back to the road. The ground here is covered in delicate crypto-biotic soil, so be sure stick to established trails and solid rock to avoid damaging the desert ecosystem.

As with any slot canyon, be aware of flash flood danger. Fry Canyon has a small watershed with a relatively low chance of flash flood, but any rain centered on this area can quickly dump water into the confined slickrock drainage. Entering this canyon is not recommended if there is any chance of thunderstorms for the day, as there are few options for escape.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(10 within a 30 mile radius)

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