Horseshoe Canyon, a remote extension of Canyonlands National Park, features some of the most beautiful rock art in the American Southwest. In order to reach this remote and isolated section of Canyonlands National Park, you’ll need to drive outside of Moab. Reaching the Great Gallery rock art panel requires a 6.5-mile hike into Horseshoe Canyon.
You’ll find the tiny, remote nook of Horseshoe Canyon between the town of Green River and Hanksville, Utah about 2 and a half hours from Moab. Take SR-24 south until you reach the Goblin Valley turnoff. Head east on Horseshoe Road. Simply follow the signs until you reach the Horseshoe Canyon Trailhead.
From here, the hike is a rugged and often un-marked 3.25 miles to the Great Gallery panel.
Local Tip: There are no amenities past Green River. Be sure to have a full tank of gas and all of your hiking snacks and drinks before you leave Green River.
Once you reach the trailhead, you’ll continue into the greater Horseshoe Canyon area. The hike starts off steep, in order to reach the canyon bottom. This also means you’ll have a steep, rocky ascent at the end of the hike.
Be sure to pack plenty of water (around 4 liters per person) since there are no reliable water sources above or in the canyon. Make your way through the sandy canyon bottom until you reach the first rock art panel, ⅓ of a mile into the canyon.
Once you’re in Horseshoe Canyon it’s hard to get lost, simply follow the canyon system. You’ll see a variety of rock art on both sides of the canyon. Some are marked and others aren’t. If you aren’t comfortable going alone, you can opt to join a ranger-led tour on Saturday or Sunday April through November, contact Canyonlands National Park to learn more.
Additional info for your Horseshoe Canyon hike includes:
Round trip distance: 6.5 to 7 miles
Elevation gain: 780 feet
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Estimated time: 5 hours
Dog friendly? No
Pro Tip: Only photographs! Don’t touch, graffiti, or get too close to the rock art. These ancient pieces are historic and considered sacred to many Native Americans. Remember to respect the rock art and keep a healthy distance from these treasures.
There is no camping or backpacking allowed in Horseshoe Canyon, however, you are welcome to camp at the west rim trailhead. Keep in mind this is dispersed camping, so bring in all of your supplies and water. Don’t forget to clean up after yourself and pack out all trash. There is a vault toilet at the trailhead for use.
This area has plenty of unique landscapes nearby, including Goblin Valley State Park and Little Wildhorse Canyon. Both of these unique excursions would be a nice addition to a day in Horseshoe Canyon.
Horseshoe Canyon offers a treasure trove of history in a beautiful setting. This must-see Canyonlands attraction is an excellent day trip from Moab.