Canyoneering Route Description

BFS Canyon - 4A X II
Escalante National Monument, Utah.

Quick Facts

10-27-19, 5 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 8 hours) Pictures Icon Time includes upclimbing lower brimstone (The Beast) then overland to and down BFS.

Time Required - 3.5 to 5 hours
Distance - 2.6 miles Total, 0.3 miles Technical
Rappels - 0 Rappels, Longest Rappel N/A feet.  (bring a couple 50 foot ropes though - see general comments below)
Elevation Range - 4710 - 4520 Feet
Shuttle Required - No Vehicle - High Clearance, 4WD if bad road conditions Permit Required - No

Gear Used for Canyon

Two short ropes of about 50 feet, 20 feet webbing. Some people find a #5 Black diamond cam helpful to place in the down canyon end of the BFS (we did not use it).

General Comments

BFS Canyon (aka Kelsey's Tightest Slot) is a tiny X canyon that packs a punch in both the fun and difficulty categories. The BFS Canyon name comes from there being a Big Freaking Silo to cross (BFS = Big Freaking Silo). 

Do not let the short technical length fool you, BFS Canyon has a some difficult obstacles suited more for the experienced canyoneer. The Big Freaking Silo that is the name sake of the canyon is a serious challenge as well as one other silo a little farther down canyon. Other portions of BFS Canyon are relatively straight forward stemming, galumphing and crossing moderate silos while 50 plus feet off the deck.  While it is short in length, BFS Canyon is not well suited for those new to X canyon.

BFS Canyon got the technical rating of 4 due to advanced rope work needed to cross the BFS.  While there are no mandatory rappels in the canyon, it is best to bring a couple 50 foot ropes to assist one another with the BFS and another obstacle farther down canyon.  A short length of webbing can be used on a small arch at the up canyon end of the BFS to assist in belaying people.  the arch is small and semi fragile.  DO NOT pull rope through the arch!  Someone has already done this and it has grooved the arch enough that it is losing integrity.  Another rope or 2 pulled through this arch will likely damage the arch to the point it can no longer be trusted at all.  Use and leave a small piece of webbing tied to the arch if you use it.  This arch is small and even a Smooth Operator or Fiddle Stick rigging can groove the rock.

Thanks to Anthony for going through this canyon a second time to show us the place.

WARNING!!       This is an X Canyon:
There are potentially deadly situations with no way to add protection.  When that happens, friends or gear are of no use... You truly are "on your own" (with an audience).  Do not attempt an X canyon until you are proficient with sustained high stemming and confident with your technical abilities including advanced anchors, ascending, pot hole escape and partner assists.  Information about X canyons is of little use if you lack skills or experience.  Making a mistake at the wrong time can kill.
Drop into an X canyon.... "At Your Own Risk".      Ultimately you are responsible for your own actions.

Where terrain allows, a rim team can be a safety net and moral support.  Unfortunately terrain rarely allows for such a luxury.
WARNING!!

Driving Directions

To get to the Trailhead

From the city of Escalante drive about 4 miles southeast on Hwy 12 to the turn off for Hole-In-The-Rock road on the right (extHoleInRock). The condition of the dirt Hole in the Rock road varies a lot with recent rains and road maintenance.  High clearance may be needed in extreme cases but most of the time passenger cars will be fine for the first 30 or 40 miles on Hole in the Rock road.

Travel about 26 miles southeast on Hole-In-The-Rock road to the turn off for the Dry Fork trailhead to the left (extDryForkTH1).  From Hole-In-The-Rock road drive about 0.8 miles to a fork in the road (extDryForkTH2) and stay right (east) at the fork.  After staying right (east) at the fork you are on an un-named road to an un-named TH about 1.5 miles away. Along the un-named road there are a few places to camp.

About 0.8 miles in from the fork the road gets deeper with sand and has more rough rock making passenger cars a bad idea.  Just as the road gets rougher and has more sand there is a small not well used slickrock pull out on the left where you can park (PkDryFrkAlt1) if you only have a passenger car.

If you have high clearance and possibly 4WD continue east about 0.7 miles to the end of the road and a large parking area (jDryForkAlt1).

To leave the Exit Vehicle / Escape Pod

No exit vehicle is needed.  This is done as an out and back route.

Maps

GPS coordinate information listed at the bottom.  For information about waypoint naming and map symbols, refer to the Glossary page.

Map Link Icon
Click the links for maps of the route.
Map of the drive overview into the trailhead.
Map of the last part of the drive into the trailhead.
Map of the approach.
Map of the technical section and the way up to the top.

Details

The Approach:
From the parking area (PkDryFrkAlt1) walk east on rolling slickrock with some gentle sandstone hills on the left (north) and a very wide shallow drainage beginning to form on the right (south).  As the drainage deepens, keep left staying just up out of the drainage (the drainage will be forming on your right or south side).

About 0.35 miles from the trailhead is a spot (DryFrkAlt01) where you will see where you can see a drop of about 30 feet in the wash to the right (south) and some hoodoo like peaks on the left (north).  To go BFS Canyon, follow down along the rim of the wash with the 30 foot drop on your right (south) and some small hoodoo like peaks on your left (north).

About 0.5 miles farther the drainage you were following ends where it dumps into Dry Fork (jDryForkAlt3).  To go down to BFS Canyon, turn right and walk south down Dry Fork.

About 0.3 miles south down Dry fork is the bottom of BFS drainage (jBFSBt) where it dumps into Dry Fork. Walk north-ish up BFS for about 200 feet looking for a ramp running up next to a crack on the nose (BFS01-AprUP) on the right (east) side.

Example Pic.

From the bottom of the crack (BFS01-AprUP) scramble up the ramp just to the left of the crack. A short distance up the ramp, work your way into the crack continuing up a short distance to then continue up more ramp on the left (west) side of the crack.

A little over 200 feet farther you will be near the top of the ramp (BFS02), stay left toward BFS Canyon to go around the left (west) side of a rock feature then out to open slickrock.

Once out on rolling slickrock, route find north-ish roughly following the rim of BFS on your left (west) for about 0.35 miles to where you can easily walk down into wide open sandy wash above the BFS slot.  Walk down into the wide open sandy wash above the narrow technical section (yBFS-Tp).

The Canyoneering / Technical Section:
Once in the open sandy wash (yBFS-Tp) turn left and walk south down canyon in shallow V slot that continues to get deeper.

About 500 feet farther the canyon pinches down (BFS-20) where you can choose to begin stemming and galumphing or scramble up on the LDC (east) side rim. Scrambling up on the LDC rim provides easy travel next to the now deep and very narrow slot. If you decide to stay in canyon, you will cross a wide silo then soon be forced up to the rim anyway as the canyon becomes too narrow to stay in.

About 330 feet farther the canyon begins to widen (BFS-21) and deepen forcing you to begin stemming down canyon. A few feet into the stemming is a medium width silo with featured walls making it easy to cross over just before reaching the BFS.

A short distance farther is the Big Freaking Silo (BFS-22-TheBFS) which which appears to be over 60 feet deep (we could not actually see the bottom) and too wide to cross over. At the up canyon end of the BFS is a small arch on the RDC side wall where webbing can be set for a rappel or handline down into the silo. One person can get down into the crack up canyon of the small arch to back up the anchor and provide belay as needed.

Note:
One way to cross the silo is, rig a webbing loop for rope on the small arch and rappel or downclimb about 8 feet to a small ledge. The downclimb is very exposed and is best done using an awkward arm bar. Once on the ledge, lean out to bridge over the silo placing hands on the down canyon side then climb over and up into the crack on the down canyon side. The bridge is not wide but is exposed and the climb into the crack on the down canyon side is awkward making a belay from the small arch comforting. The first person across the BFS can then use a rope to assist in belaying other across from the ledge. The rope from the webbing on the small arch can then be pulled from the down canyon side.  You did use webbing on the arch, right?  See next note.

Note:
DO NOT place rope directly around the arch. Pulling rope through this small arch will cut it rendering it useless for future parties. If you use the arch for an anchor, ALWAYS tie a loop of webbing on it and leave it there. This arch is small and even a Smooth Operator or Fiddle Stick rigging can groove the rock. If this arch is compromised, an anchor can be set using a chock stone anchor or JellyFish in the crack on the up canyon side. Using the crack anchor sets the rope lower and will make entry to the BFS more difficult.

Note:
Some people have found a #5 Black diamond cam useful in setting in the down canyon crack but we did not use it.

Right after BFS is a moderately wide silo to easily stem over followed by stemming over multiple smaller silo like features where you will be 30 to 50 feet off the deck.

About 120 feet down canyon of the BFS is a wide silo (BFS-22) that very tall people can stem over the top with high penalty points if they fall. Most people will need to awkwardly downclimb about 15 feet into the silo where they can stem over it at a lower level. Downclimb into the silo is exposed, very awkward and intimidating. A rope can be helpful if an anchor point can be found or if someone is willing provide a meat anchor then downclimb last without the rope. After crossing the lower, level you will need to climb up the other side which can be awkward and exposed as well. Small people can get into a crack and climb up with little exposure. Average to larger sized people will need to climb up a slightly overhung section since they will not fit in the crack.

The next 250 feet of canyon after this silo is a mix of galumphing, stemming and crossing a few silos that are well featured and not as difficult. You will be 40 to 50 feet off the deck at various places in this section.

As you near the end of the canyon (BFS-23) look for a way to downclimb about 25 feet down into one of a few gapers to the sandy floor below.

Note:
If sand levels are low you can downclimb to the floor then belly crawl in sand for about 100 feet under pinch points to exit. If sand levels are high you will need to continue stemming down canyon down canyon about 60 feet to find another way to downclimb in. A good idea is to provide a meat anchor for someone to go check the lower exit before committing the entire group.

Shortly down canyon the walls widen (yBFS-Bt) to a wide sandy corridor.

The Exit:
From where the walls widen (yBFS-Bt) walk the sandy floor about 0.2 miles down to Dry Fork (jBFSBt).

Once at Dry Fork (jBFSBt) turn right and walk west up the wide Dry Fork drainage for about 0.3 miles to a smaller side wash on the left (west).

At the smaller side drainage (jDryForkAlt3) route find your way west away from the main Dry Fork drainage up this sandy wash. About 300 feet up the wash is a barbed wire fence. Cross under or over the fence then up onto slickrock on the right (northeast) side to continue west toward the trailhead.

About 0.5 miles farther is you will be on the rim of a drainage next to the 30 foot drop (DryFrkAlt01).  Continue west about 0.35 miles back to the parking spot (jDryForkAlt1).

GPS Waypoint Information

GPX Files Available for DOWNLOAD.
Downloadable GPX files for many of the canyons listed here are now available at the BG-Gear Store.  In addition to the waypoints, the GPX files also offer routes and tracks for the canyon.  Over time more GPX files will be added.

If you want to avoid manually adding waypoints into your GPS or mapping software, want the additional routes and tracks or simply want to support the efforts put into BluuGnome, head over to the BG-Gear Store and grab the files that interest you.

Elevations are approximate.  Waypoints with no elevation data will display NaN in place of the elevation.

For information about my waypoint naming convention and map symbols, refer to the Glossary page.

Notes for GPS information:
BEFORE
entering coordinates from this website, please ensure your system (GPS or mapping software) is set to the same datum used here.  Waypoint coordinates are listed with WGS84 datum and in Lat/Lon hddd.ddddd° format.  Entering coordinate information with inconsistent datum's can result in the waypoints being off by hundreds of feet.  It is important to keep this in mind when entering waypoints from any source.

BFS (1) - Drive to Trailhead
  1. extHoleInRock          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.72769   W -111.53143        Elev: NaN Feet
    Turn off to Hole-In-The-Rock road from Hwy 12.
  2. exHarrisWash          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.60644   W -111.42794        Elev: NaN Feet
    Turn off to Harris Wash Road to the east.
  3. extEgypt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.54114   W -111.36176        Elev: 5,279 Feet
    Turn off to the Egypt Road to the east (left on the drive in on Hole in the Rock road..
  4. extDryForkTH1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46638   W -111.22344        Elev: 4,890 Feet
    Turn off of Hole-In-The-Rock road toward Dry Fork trailhead. BLM road 252 This is about 25 miles down Hole in the Rock road.
  5. extDryForkTH2          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46579   W -111.21226        Elev: 4,849 Feet
    Junction where road 252 goes left (north) to Dry Fork trailhead. Continuing straight (east) follows Kane County Road K9315 to an un-named TH about 1.5 miles away. About 0.8 miles in on road K9315 the road has deeper sand and more rough rock making passenger cars a bad idea.
  6. PkDryFrkAlt1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46631   W -111.19895        Elev: 4,772 Feet
    The road begins to get rougher and have deeper sand. This slick rock pull out is about as far as you want to push a passenger car into this road. High clearance with 4WD will get you about 0.7 miles farther up the road to the preferred parking spot.
  7. jDryForkAlt1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46342   W -111.18670        Elev: 4,710 Feet
    Park here at an un-named tailhead on an un-named road as an alternate entry to the Dry Fork drainage. To go to ROC or Brimstone Canyons,.......... To go to Sandslide or BFS Canyons, Walk east on rolling slickrock with some gentle sandstone hills on the left (north) and a very wide shallow drainage starting to form on the right (south). As the drainage deepens, keep left staying just up out of the drainage (the drainage will be forming on your right or south side).
BFS (2) - Approach
  1. jDryForkAlt1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46342   W -111.18670        Elev: 4,710 Feet
    Park here at an un-named tailhead on an un-named road as an alternate entry to the Dry Fork drainage. To go to ROC or Brimstone Canyons,.......... To go to Sandslide or BFS Canyons, Walk east on rolling slickrock with some gentle sandstone hills on the left (north) and a very wide shallow drainage starting to form on the right (south). As the drainage deepens, keep left staying just up out of the drainage (the drainage will be forming on your right or south side).
  2. DryFrkAlt01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46203   W -111.18043        Elev: NaN Feet
    A spot on the LDC rim of a wash next to a drop of about 30 feet in the wash. If going to BFS Canyon or down Dry Fork, follow down along the rim of the wash with the 30 foot drop on your right (south) and some small hoodoo like peaks on your left (north). If going to Sandslide Canyon or up Dry Fork start wrapping left (north) around the hoodoo like peaks and route find your way northeast.
  3. jDryForkAlt3          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46202   W -111.17263        Elev: 4,520 Feet
    One of the routes from the alternate Dry Fork TH meets Dry fork here. To go down to BFS Canyon, turn right and walk south down Dry Fork. To back to the trailhead, route find your way west away from the main Dry Fork drainage up this sandy wash. About 300 feet up the wash is a barbed wire fence. Cross under or over the fence then up onto slickrock on the right (northeast) side to continue west toward the trailhead.
  4. jBFSBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46120   W -111.16871        Elev: 4,510 Feet
    Bottom of BFS drainage where it dumps into Dry Fork. To go to the top of BFS, walk north-ish up BFS for about 200 feet looking for a ramp running up next to a crack on the nose on the right (east) side. To go back to the parking and trailhead after BFS Canyon, turn right and walk west up the wide Dry Fork drainage for about 0.3 miles to a smaller side wash on the left (west).
  5. BFS01-AprUP          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46165   W -111.16896        Elev: NaN Feet
    The bottom of BFS slot meets wide open sand and there is a ramp and crack running up the nose on the east side. To go to the top of BFS, scramble up the ramp just to the left of the crack. A short distance up the ramp, work your way into the crack continuing up a short distance to then continue up more ramp on the left (west) side of the crack.
  6. BFS02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46213   W -111.16854        Elev: NaN Feet
    As you get near the top of the ramp, stay left toward BFS Canyon to go around the left (west) side of a rock feature then out to open slickrock. Once out on rolling slickrock, route find north-ish roughly following the rim of BFS on your left (west) for about 0.35 miles to where you can easily walk down into wide open sandy wash above the BFS slot.
  7. yBFS-Tp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46671   W -111.16505        Elev: 4,630 Feet
    Top of BFS lower technical section (aka Kelsey's Tightest Slot). Walk south down canyon in shallow V slot that continues to get deeper.
BFS (3) - The Canyon
  1. yBFS-Tp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46671   W -111.16505        Elev: 4,630 Feet
    Top of BFS lower technical section (aka Kelsey's Tightest Slot). Walk south down canyon in shallow V slot that continues to get deeper.
  2. BFS-20          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46584   W -111.16633        Elev: NaN Feet
    Canyon pinches down where you can choose to begin stemming and galumphing or scramble up on the LDC (east) side rim. Scrambling up on the LDC rim provides easy travel next to the now deep and very narrow slot. If you decide to stay in canyon, you will cross a wide silo then soon be forced up to the rim anyway as the canyon becomes too narrow to stay in.
  3. BFS-21          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46502   W -111.16692        Elev: NaN Feet
    The canyon begins to widen and deepen forcing you to begin stemming down canyon. A few feet into the stemming is a medium width silo with featured walls making it easy to cross over just before reaching the BFS.
  4. BFS-22-TheBFS          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46490   W -111.16698        Elev: NaN Feet
    This Big Freaking Silo (BFS) appears to be over 60 feet deep ( we could not actually see the bottom) and too wide to cross over. At the up canyon end of the BFS is a small arch on the RDC side wall where webbing can be set for a rappel or handline down into the silo. One person can get down into the crack up canyon of the small arch to back up the anchor and provide belay as needed. Note: One way to cross the silo is, rig a webbing loop for rope on the small arch and rappel or downclimb about 8 feet to a small ledge. The downclimb is very exposed and is best done using an awkward arm bar. Once on the ledge, lean out to bridge over the silo placing hands on the down canyon side then climb over and up into the crack on the down canyon side. The bridge is not wide but is exposed and the climb into the crack on the downcanyon side is a bit awkward making a belay from the small arch comforting. The first person across the BFS can then use a rope to assist in belaying other across from the ledge. The rope from the webbing on the small arch can then be pulled from the down canyon side. You did use webbing on the arch, right? See next note. Note: DO NOT place rope directly around the arch. Pulling rope through this small arch will cut it rendering it useless for future parties. If you use the arch for an anchor, ALWAYS tie a loop of webbing on it and leave it there. This arch is small and even a Smooth Operator or Fiddle Stick rigging can groove the rock. If this arch is compromised, an anchor can be set using a chock stone anchor or JellyFish in the crack on the up canyon side. Using the crack anchor sets the rope lower and will make entry to the BFS more difficult. Note: Some people have found a #5 Black diamond cam useful in setting in the down canyon crack but we did not use it. Right after BFS is a moderately wide silo to easily stem over followed by stemming over multiple smaller silo like features where you will be 30 to 50 feet off the deck.
  5. BFS-22          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46456   W -111.16710        Elev: NaN Feet
    Wide silo that very tall people can stem over the top with high penalty points if they fall. Most people will need to awkwardly downclimb about 15 feet into the silo where they can stem over it at a lower level. Downclimb into the silo is exposed, very awkward and intimidating. A rope can be helpful if an anchor point can be found or if someone is willing provide a meat anchor then downclimb last without the rope. After crossing the lower, level you will need to climb up the other side which can be awkward and exposed as well. Small people can get into a crack and climb up with little exposure. Average to larger sized people will need to climb up a slightly overhung section since they will not fit in the crack. The next 250 feet of canyon after this silo is a mix of galumphing, stemming and crossing a few silos that are well featured and not as difficult. You will be 40 to 50 feet off the deck at various places in this section.
  6. BFS-23          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46388   W -111.16714        Elev: NaN Feet
    Look for a way to downclimb about 25 feet down into one of a few gapers to the sandy floor below. If sand levels are low you can downclimb to the floor then belly crawl in sand for about 100 feet under pinch points to exit. If sand levels are high you will need to continue stemming down canyon down canyon about 60 feet to find another way to downclimb in. A good idea is to provide a meat anchor for someone to go check the lower exit before committing the entire group.
  7. yBFS-Bt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46355   W -111.16752        Elev: 4,560 Feet
    Bottom of BFS where skinny slot ends and opens up to large corridor. Walk the sandy floor about 0.2 miles down to Dry Fork.
BFS (4) - Exit
  1. yBFS-Bt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46355   W -111.16752        Elev: 4,560 Feet
    Bottom of BFS where skinny slot ends and opens up to large corridor. Walk the sandy floor about 0.2 miles down to Dry Fork.
  2. jBFSBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46120   W -111.16871        Elev: 4,510 Feet
    Bottom of BFS drainage where it dumps into Dry Fork. To go to the top of BFS, walk north-ish up BFS for about 200 feet looking for a ramp running up next to a crack on the nose on the right (east) side. To go back to the parking and trailhead after BFS Canyon, turn right and walk west up the wide Dry Fork drainage for about 0.3 miles to a smaller side wash on the left (west).
  3. jDryForkAlt3          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46202   W -111.17263        Elev: 4,520 Feet
    One of the routes from the alternate Dry Fork TH meets Dry fork here. To go down to BFS Canyon, turn right and walk south down Dry Fork. To back to the trailhead, route find your way west away from the main Dry Fork drainage up this sandy wash. About 300 feet up the wash is a barbed wire fence. Cross under or over the fence then up onto slickrock on the right (northeast) side to continue west toward the trailhead.
  4. DryFrkAlt01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46203   W -111.18043        Elev: NaN Feet
    A spot on the LDC rim of a wash next to a drop of about 30 feet in the wash. If going to BFS Canyon or down Dry Fork, follow down along the rim of the wash with the 30 foot drop on your right (south) and some small hoodoo like peaks on your left (north). If going to Sandslide Canyon or up Dry Fork start wrapping left (north) around the hoodoo like peaks and route find your way northeast.
  5. jDryForkAlt1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.46342   W -111.18670        Elev: 4,710 Feet
    Park here at an un-named tailhead on an un-named road as an alternate entry to the Dry Fork drainage. To go to ROC or Brimstone Canyons,.......... To go to Sandslide or BFS Canyons, Walk east on rolling slickrock with some gentle sandstone hills on the left (north) and a very wide shallow drainage starting to form on the right (south). As the drainage deepens, keep left staying just up out of the drainage (the drainage will be forming on your right or south side).