It was Saturday and my ATV was repaired. It was time to head south for a day of exploring in spite of the summer heat.

David and I drove my Explorer down to the north end of the San Rafael Swell near Castle Dale Utah and then south down Buckhorn Draw to a side canyon called Calf Canyon. This was a canyon that we first saw from the top earlier this spring. Because we noticed a jeep trail heading up the canyon, we made a mental note to explore it from the bottom. We figured this would be a good time to do this since we needed to plan a trip where we were moving most of the time to keep from over heating in the near 100 degree temperatures.

We parked at the mouth of Calf Canyon and unloaded the ATVs.

Mouth of Calf Canyon

We then headed northeast up Calf Canyon until the canyon and jeep trail split. We then headed east up another side canyon called Pine Canyon.

Calf & Pine Canyons

When the road ended, we decided that we wanted to see more of Pine Canyon so we parked and began hiking south for just over a half mile. That gave us a good view up the side canyons and not so far that we were in danger of heat exhaustion. We were hoping for clouds to form and help cool things off some.

Pine Canyon

Pine Canyon

On the way back to the ATVs, the clouds started streaming over head. By the time we had wandered back over to explore the rest of Calf Canyon, there was even a slight chance of a rain shower. By the time we got to the mouth of Cow Canyon, the rain was actually hitting the ground and we almost got wet!


The most interesting things to see in Calf Canyon were a couple of large twin alcoves but we didn’t take the time to walk over to them and check them out.

Calf Canyon twin alcoves

We also got a chance to look at Calf Canyon Arch from the bottom.

Calf Canyon Arch

So for the rest of the day, we enjoyed much cooler weather than the sun and heat that we had feared. The rain showers missed us for the rest of the day but the passing clouds made the ride very enjoyable.

Since it wasn’t long before we were back at the Explorer, having seen enough of Calf, Cow and Pine canyons to satisfy us, we loaded up the ATVs again and continued south on the Buckhorn Wash road.

Mouth of Buckhorn Wash

After leaving Buckhorn Wash and crossing the San Rafael River near the campground, we continued south for another six miles where the dirt roads headed for Oil Well Flat and Cane Wash. We again unloaded the ATVs and this time headed east to Cane Wash.

Once we were finally in the sandy dry creek bed of Cane Wash, we found ourselves near the trailhead for No Mans Mesa.

No Mans Mesa trailhead

Cane Wash entrance

We first headed north 3.5 miles until the vehicle trail ended at the a Wilderness Study Area boundary.

Cane Wash north road end

That was too bad because the canyon was just getting interesting. In another 6 miles, the dry wash dumps into the San Rafael River but hiking required much more time than we had. Instead of hiking, we spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the rest of Cane Wash on ATVs and ended up back at the Explorer just before sunset.

Cane Wash buttes

Along the way, we found some Bronze Evening Primrose blooming.

Calylophus lavandulifolia

We couldn’t have picked a better or cooler day for exploring and enjoying the outdoors of Utah!

Total ATV mileage for the day = 38.5 miles.