Red Breaks Canyon -Escalante, Utah

The best canyon of our desert road trip was Red Breaks Canyon in Escalante, Utah. Roadtrip Ryan summarized the canyon as having “big views, tight narrows, up climbing challenges, navigation fun, and stunning colors,” and also called it “exquisite.” Sold!

The night before we drove in 6 miles on Old Sheffield road (a well-maintained dirt road) and camped. The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast with some awesome views:

We just discovered the cast iron skillet. We now make everything on it.
Pancakes cooked in bacon grease. Yum.

Red Breaks canyon is considered a 3A canyon. The “3” means it is technical, requiring rappelling and anchor skills, and the “A” means it is (mostly) dry. We encountered one small pool that went up past our ankles.

The approach and canyon took us 5-6 hours round trip. The hiking portion was 1 hour each way in large part because of the route finding.

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Hike to the start of Red Breaks canyon.
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Lots of cactus flowers along the way.

As usual, I will defer to Roadtrip Ryan (or Dan) for all of the route finding details. Use a GPS too.

Red Breaks is one of our favorites so far because the slots were tight but not TOO tight (magic?) and it was gorgeous.

red breaks1.jpg
Wider section.
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Getting a little more narrow, but still smiling about it.
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Colorful + sinuous slots.

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There is one ~30 foot rappel in the canyon. Dan set up a retrievable anchor that we could pull at the bottom:

retrievable anchor.jpg

Looking down to the bottom of the rappel. A shallow pool awaits.
rappel 2.jpg
View of the rappel from the bottom.

After this section the canyon opened up and we walked for 30 minutes until we reached the hike out of the canyon. Along the way we saw a spider-filled hole in the rock. Time to climb inside:

red breaks 7.jpg
Appraising the hole for structural integrity.
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Hoping the sandy bottom doesn’t fall into a trap.

We reached the west fork (the return canyon) and found it almost more fun and exciting. There are many boulders to pass and up-climbs requiring a bit of teamwork and problem solving. Also known as beach whaling:

red breaks 9.jpg
Technical climbing move.

The canyon becomes deep and narrow – beautiful!

red breaks 10.jpg
Narrow and fun.

The canyon opens and with a few more minutes of easy walking we found the bag we stashed. We hiked back to the trailhead in another hour and in that time I managed to take more flower pictures, effectively/unnecessarily increasing our hot desert hiking time.


Here are a few other resources for the trip:

Summit Post

University of Utah

The end.



3 Comments Add yours

  1. Beautiful pictures! Love the patterns in the rocks, amazing :) I’ve just followed you on instagram love your photography


  2. Gareth says:

    Wow amazing photos and place to explore! I think I’d freak out in gaps that narrow


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