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Reflection Canyon

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Canyonlands + Abajo Mountains, Utah

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Reflection Canyon
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  • The climb at the beginning of the hike.- Reflection Canyon
  • One of the slot canyons on the way to Reflection Canyon.- Reflection Canyon
  • Just a taste of one of the many different types of terrain in the area.- Reflection Canyon
  • Three miles into the hike, this is your view.- Reflection Canyon
  • When you see these cliffs, head southeast.- Reflection Canyon
  • Setting up for the overnight on the rim of Reflection Canyon.- Reflection Canyon
  • Reflection Canyon, the view you worked so hard for.- Reflection Canyon
  • Sunrise on Reflection Canyon.- Reflection Canyon
  • Retracing the route on the hike back out.- Reflection Canyon
  • The texture in this vicinity is unmatched.- Reflection Canyon
  • Camping for the sunrise view at Reflection Canyon.- Reflection Canyon
  • The Reflection Canyon rim is an unforgettable place to camp.- Reflection Canyon
  • Reflection Canyon at sunrise.- Reflection Canyon
  • The water level is obviously historically low at Reflection Canyon.- Reflection Canyon
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Challenging. Remote. Secluded campsites. Incredible view of Lake Powell.
Cons: 
Hard to find. No water. Long trip. No trails.
Region:
Canyonlands + Abajo Mountains, UT
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes, with restrictions
Net Elevation Gain: 
347.00 ft (105.77 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking
Total Distance: 
20.00 mi (32.19 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
4,478.00 ft (1,364.89 m)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Backpacking to Reflection Canyon is not for the faint of heart. It is an incredibly challenging 20-mile round-trip hike through the Glen Canyon backcountry for one view into Reflection Canyon. Reflection Canyon is an extension of Lake Powell, and it is usually seen by boat and plane, though this intense hike is starting to gain more popularity as of late. Its location was revealed in 2006 when National Geographic published photographer Michael Melford's photos of the canyon. It also gained popularity when it was used by Apple in June 2012 to promote the new Mac Book Pro high resolution with retina display. This view is remote, and you definitely have to work to get the view as a reward. While it can be done as a one-day hiking trip, photographers may want to consider an overnight stay to wake up with a sunrise view unlike any other.

To begin, you'll need a four-wheel drive vehicle to access this remote section in the Grand Escalante Staircase National Monument via an unmaintained and unpaved route down Hole in the Rock Road. You'll want to take the speed limit to heart even when the road is in good condition, as blown-out tires keep the local gas station in business. Be sure to check weather and road conditions before you head out; storms and rainfall can wash out portions of the road and create sections that are muddy and impassible. If the conditions allow, drive 50 miles down this road, entering Glen Canyon territory in the last 5 miles of the trip. Watch for a small parking area on the right. The canyon itself is southeast from where you park, but because of all the other gulches, canyons, and ravines in the area, you will need to hike southwest first.

You'll notice a vast, straight edge of cliffs on your right as you're facing south. Those cliffs are your lifeline, and you'll always want to keep those cliffs to your right and stay as close as you can to them for 90% of the hike. If you venture too far from the cliffs you'll end up deep in multiple different slot canyons. Approximately 5 miles into your trek you'll see a flat, almost squared-off face in the cliffs. This is where you'll want to leave the cliffs and keep them at your back, turning southeast. From that point it is approximately 2 miles to the canyon. 

This hike is anywhere between 18 and 20 miles round trip, depending on the route you take and how many slot canyons you run into. Because there is no trail to follow, a person's steps will always vary. Though the net elevation gain is small, remember that you will be constantly climbing ravines, hills, and canyons. Also, there are no places to get water on this adventure. You will need to carry all of your water and bring plenty of it if you explore this area in the warmer months. If you plan to backpack in, all Leave No Trace rules apply, and you must carry out everything that you bring in. Dogs are allowed in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area; they must remain on a leash no longer than 6 feet, and all waste must be picked up and carried out. A GPS is highly recommended for waypoints such as the parking area and the cliffs. There is no cell phone reception, and you're very unlikely to run into anyone the whole duration of your trip. Reflection Canyon is remote and isolated, and the silence and calm that surrounds is just as rewarding as the view.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Adventures

(2 within a 30 mile radius)

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