Red Butte Canyon

Categories: Announcements, Zion

Bordering Zion’s Kolob Canyons area is a square sect of 1,537 acres called Red Butte Wilderness. There is not much information about Red Butte Wilderness. It was created in 2009 as a part of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. The peak itself is supposed to be a fun technical rock climb and on the east side of the peak is a large arch similar to Bridge Arch in Zion. I had seen it a million times before acknowledging it as a place to go, but after I found myself running out of places to go on the Kolob Terrace I decided it was time to give it a try.

Approaching Red Butte involves driving driving through deep sand so a high clearance 4×4 is required. On my first visit to the area I wasn’t sure which of the numerous roads was the best one to use. As a result I ended up making a roundabout trip to the west side of the peak, where there is a canyon. I have no idea if the canyon has a name so i’m calling it Red Butte Canyon.

Red Butte is the pyramid in the distance.

On the left a drive along the border of Zion. On the right was a sad scene where a deer had died from having it’s foot trapped in barb wire. It was a bad way to go.

Both the drive and the hike are very sandy. It can be very hot in summer. I was hoping to somehow find a way up the canyon walls.

Eventually the canyon narrowed and became heavily wooded.

I get used to the open slickrock and brush that is characteristic of mos redrock areas so I always find it interesting when I see rock formations in the woods with pine and fir trees. In the back of a tributary canyon, while looking for a way up onto Red Butte’s upper level, I found a circular arch in cliff wall. You can see it on the far right. It didn’t look easy to get to but I figured I’d give it a try.

I almost buried myself in a rockslide but I made it up into the arch! It was a cool little secret-feeling area and easily tall enough to stand in.

The arch had made the day a success already but there was still more to see down the canyon.

After pushing myself through some truly frustrating deadfall and unstable boulders in a steep sided gully I was rewarded with this completely hidden, quiet oasis.

The oasis was one of those special places I am always hoping to find in Zion and it was a great place to relax for a while.

Heading on there was no relief from the ever thickening trees and brush.

At the very back I broke out of the trees.

Alas, there was no way for me to climb up higher and it was the end of the day. On this trip I did not find a way to the upper level of Red Butte. 

The moon rose in front of me as I headed out while the temperature plummeted pleasantly.

Getting out of the deep gully is the final penalty of visiting the canyon. You might get buried up to your knees or even slide backwards as you fight your way to the top.

Red Butte has a really cool arch on the top of it. You can’t see it from the Kolob Terrace road but from the right angle it’s visible from miles away. It looks tiny but zooming in I think it’s comparable in size for Crawford Arch.

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