Discover Neon Canyon and Golden Cathedral in the Utah desert

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Discover Neon Canyon and Golden Cathedral in the Utah desert

Ford the Escalante, discover petroglyphs and stone sanctuary
The sculpting power of the waters of Neon Canyon created a mid-channel cavern whose domed ceiling has three massive skylights. From the interior of the chamber the entire structure may be seen in the reflection pool.
Courtesy of Thomas Holt WardSojourners are lost in reverie gazing into the earth house mirror.
Travel basics

Travel: From Escalante, Utah, drive five miles east on Utah State Route 12. Turn south on Hole In The Rock Road and proceed for 16.7 miles. Watch for a small brown sign with white lettering, “Egypt 10 mi.” Turn east and zero-out your trip meter. The road initially presents as flat and graded washboard but it gets rougher as you go. At 2.8 miles, continue straight. The ford of Twentyfive Mile Wash at 3.5 miles is potentially the greatest hazard, especially after rain. Drive cautiously over a stretch of bumpy bedrock. At a “Y”, 9.5 miles, go right. Park at ten miles in a large circular lot. Four-wheel-drive with moderate clearance should suffice. There are no facilities and no water at the trailhead. Allow 1 hour, 10 minutes to 1½ hours from Escalante.


Distance and Elevation Gain: 10 miles with 1,400 feet of climbing.


Time: 5½ to 7½ hours


Difficulty: Primarily off-trail; navigation moderately challenging; no exposure; potentially deep wading in the Escalante River (bring water sandals); flash flood hazard in Neon Canyon.


Map: Egypt, UT 7.5 USGS Quad

Discover Neon Canyon and Golden Cathedral in the Utah desert

The sculpting power of the waters of Neon Canyon created a mid-channel cavern whose domed ceiling has three massive skylights. From the interior of the chamber the entire structure may be seen in the reflection pool.
Courtesy of Thomas Holt WardSojourners are lost in reverie gazing into the earth house mirror.

Discover Neon Canyon and Golden Cathedral in the Utah desert

Debra Van Winegarden/Special to the HeraldFrom the upland rim, descend the escarpment on a sandstone slab. The Henry Mountains skim the eastern horizon.

Discover Neon Canyon and Golden Cathedral in the Utah desert

Debra Van Winegarden crosses the Escalante River. In springtime the river can run cold, deep and fast.

Discover Neon Canyon and Golden Cathedral in the Utah desert

Humans have been pecking images into this wall-of-record for 5,000 years. Early pioneer Charles Hall added his inscription in 1881. Cowboys pecked right over the top of ancient images.

Discover Neon Canyon and Golden Cathedral in the Utah desert

From the trailhead, descend the escarpment on a sandstone sheet. Walk northeast across the Egypt Bench. Locate a well-defined trail near the apex of the wedge between the two arms of Fence and descend to the Escalante River. Walk and wade downstream to unofficially named Neon Canyon. Walk upcanyon to the Golden Cathedral.
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