Canyoneering Route Description

Drill Hole Canyon - 3A II
Escalante National Monument, Utah

Quick Facts

05-25-18, 2 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 5 hours) Pictures Icon Took extra time looking around

Time Required - 3 to 4 hours
Distance - 4.2 miles Total, 1.1 miles Technical
Rappels - 3 Rappels, Longest Rappel 110 feet.
Elevation Range - 5730 - 5180 Feet
Shuttle Required - No Miles Vehicle - Passenger carefully driven - High Clearance helpful Permit Required - No

Gear Used for Canyon

Rappelling and anchor gear, Ropes and or pull cords for rappels up to 110 feet and 50 feet of 1 inch webbing for sling placement.

General Comments

One book author suggests leaving your rope at rap 1 and retrieve it on the hike out. This turns out to be a horrible idea due to rough terrain taking a lot longer to navigate than simply carrying the rope through the canyon with you.  Carrying a rope over this short route is a LOT easier than navigating the convoluted terrain to go retrieve the rope later.  Just carry the rope.  Oh, ask me how I know this.  lol

Drill Hole Canyon is not a route I recommend for those looking for canyon fun. Most of the route is relatively uninteresting with only a few scenic treats. Save this hike for when you are bored and have done absolutely everything else you can imagine doing first.

Although most of the Drill Hole Road is smooth, a high clearance vehicle is recommended due to rough patches in the road. A carefully driven passenger vehicle can make it but there can be a few challenges depending on road condition.

Driving Directions

To get to the Trailhead

From the city of Escalante drive about 9.6 miles east on Hwy 12 to the turn off on the right (south) to the Old Sheffield Road (extOldShefldRd).
OR
From the town of Boulder drive about 15 miles west on Hwy 12 to a turn off on the left (south) to the Old Sheffield Road (extOldShefldRd).

Note:
The Old Sheffield road is also referred to as Spencer Flats Road.

Turn south off of highway 12 onto the Old Sheffield Road.  Follow south down the Old Sheffield Road staying on the main dirt road passing the small side roads on the way.  

About 5.7 miles after leaving highway 12 is a junction (ExSpencDhole) where the main road makes a sweeping right hand turn going south and a less traveled looking road continues straight (east).

Note:
Following the right hand bend to go south goes out to an old drill hole site about 2.8 miles south.

Following the less traveled road to the east can be driven about 0.9 miles to a large sandstone patio for parking just before the road becomes too sandy for vehicles. To go to the Spencer Canyon or TOD Canyon parking area continue straight (east) to the sandstone patio parking. A carefully driven passenger car can sometimes drive this sandy and deeply rutted road but high clearance and 4WD may be useful.

To go to Drill Hole Canyon go right and drive south for about 0.28 miles to the end of the road by an old drill hole site (pkSheffDhole1) and park there.  Be careful of a patch of deep sand at the end of the road where you park. There is plenty of hard road where you do not need to be on sand but if you are not paying attention, you can end up in deep sand and get stuck.  Again, ask me how I know this.

To leave the Exit Vehicle / Escape Pod

No exit vehicle is needed.  This is done as a loop 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 into the route.
Map of the entire route.
Map of the technical section and first part of exit.

Details

The Approach:
From the parking spot (pkSheffDhole1) walk west around the left (north) side of a sandstone hill then down a slickrock slope down into a minor drainage about 700 feet west of the parking area.

Once in the minor drainage (DrillHole01), turn left and follow southish down the minor drainage with a mix of walking and light scrambling.

About 0.35 miles farther the minor drainage drops into a larger drainage (DrillHole02). Look southeast across the large drainage to note an old road running southwest down along the LDC side (opposite side from the minor drainage). Find your way down into, across and back up the other side of major drainage and up onto the old road. Turn right and follow the old road southwest as it roughly follows the rim of the wash / canyon on your right.

About 0.25 miles farther while following the road, keep an eye on the wash you are following and look for where the bank on the far side becomes a large sandy hillside and you also see a large outcropping about 450 feet ahead on the road you are following. Leave the old road (DrillHole03) and route find your way down gentle slopes down into the drainage below.

Once down in the wash (DrillHole04) turn left and follow down stream to the southwest.

About 450 feet farther is the top of Drill Hole Canyon (yDrillHoleTp) where a few short drops are easily bypassed on the RDC side. 

The Canyoneering / Technical Section:
From the top of the canyon (yDrillHoleTp) bypass a few short drops on the RDC side.

About 225 feet farther are a couple more drops (DrillHole05) to bypass RDC dropping back in the canyon about 150 feet down canyon.

After dropping back down to the canyon floor walk about 150 feet farther to another small drop (DrillHole06) to walk around RDC.  Rap 1 is about 100 feet farther.

Rap 1 (dDrillHoleR1) anchored from a deadman anchor and drops about 110 feet down 2 stages. Optionally you can use a large tree about 40 feet up the RDC side as the anchor but this may create rope pull issues.

Note: One book author suggests leaving your rope at rap 1 and retrieve it on the hike out. This turns out to be a horrible idea due to rough terrain taking a lot longer to navigate than simply carrying the rope through the canyon with you.  Carrying a rope over this short route is a LOT easier than navigating the convoluted terrain to go retrieve the rope later.  Just carry the rope.

About 0.35 miles farther is a big drop in the wash (DrillHole07). Walk about 130 feet over to the head of a side ravine on the LDC (east) side and downclimb the ravine to the canyon floor. The ravine is narrow and overall very easy to downclimb with the last 20 feet being in a vertical narrow crack but is an easy stem downclimb.

Shortly down canyon is the bottom of a side canyon (DrillHole08) coming in on the LDC side near the bottom of the downclimb ravine. Continuing down canyon is all easy travel with a mix of long corridors and more open canyon.

Note: You can walk and scramble your way up into this side canyon for some cool air in a chamber like area. You can get about 200 feet up into this side canyon to a dry fall of about 20 feet tall.

About 900 feet farther is a set of cross joints (DrillHole09), one on each side. The RDC cross joint you can walk up into a short distance to the base of a 60 foot dry fall.

About 280 feet farther is a drop (DrillHole10) of about 20 feet that is bypassed by scrambling up on the RDC side over to then down a short ravine downclimb back to the canyon floor.  Rap 2 is about 150 feet farther down canyon.

Rap 2 (dDrillHoleR2) is near a drop of about 20 feet in the watercourse where you scramble up the RDC side up steep slickrock to the anchors. Anchored from a large rock outcropping and drops about 45 feet down mostly vertical wall.  Rap 3 is about 250 feet farther down canyon.

Rap 3 (dDrillHoleR3) is by a drop of about 25 feet in the watercourse where you scramble up the RDC side up gently sloped slickrock to the anchors. Anchored from a rock pile and uses about 55 feet of rope travel as the rap rolls off vertical with lots of features and loose rock.

About 500 feet farther is a very large ravine (DrillHole11) drops in from the LDC side coming down from the up canyon direction. When you see this you are about 800 feet from the exit point.

About 800 feet farther is the bottom of Drill Hole Canyon (yDrillHoleBt) where a large side wash comes in from the RDC side and drops down from the up canyon direction.

Note: You can walk a long way down canyon from here with easy walking with some long corridor like sections. If looking for a little scenery you can walk as far as you like and return back to here to exit the canyon.

The Exit:
From the bottom of Drill Hole Canyon (yDrillHoleBt) where a large side wash comes in from the RDC side and drops down from the up canyon direction. Exit the canyon by walking north up the RDC side wash for about 400 feet to where you can start walking up sloped slickrock.

When you can start walking up slickrock (DrillHole12) walk up sloped slickrock up out of the wash and continue up to the northwest and veering left away from the drainage up to a ridge.

About 300 feet up out of the wash the grade gets a little more gentle and ridge begins to form (DrillHole13). Continue northeast up the ridge.

About 700 feet up the ridge, it becomes more defined but still wide (DrillHole14).  You will also start to see a large, tall beehive peak and a tall phallic shaped hoodoo about 800 feet to the left (north). Continue up the ride scrambling where needed and find your way over to a saddle between the beehive and the hoodoo.

About 1000 feet farther the ridge gets to gets to more gentle terrain at the saddle between the beehive and hoodoo (DrillHole15). Resist the urge to go north following up the canyon. Instead veer left to walk northwest about 650 feet to where you can see down into the next valley.

From where you can see into the next valley (DrillHole16) look for some fence posts about 1000 feet away on the other side of the valley. Those fence posts are at the end of an old road. Route find your way northwest toward the fence posts down into and across the valley. You can aim a bit right (north) of the fence posts since you will be turning northish when you hit the road anyway.

When you get to the old road (DrillHole17) turn right and follow the old road with easy walking to the northeast.

About 0.75 miles up the road will be a junction in the road (DrillHole18). Leave the junction and walk open desert northeast over to and up the hill back to your car park about 0.5 miles away. While crossing this section of open desert you will get to the same minor drainage (DrillHole01) you started down near the start of the route then up the same slickrock hill back up to the car (pkSheffDhole1). 

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.

Drill Hole (1) - Drive to Trailhead
  1. extOldShefldRd          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.74259   W -111.44767        Elev: NaN Feet
    Trun off to the Old Sheffield Raod. There are no signs indication what road you are turning onto. Note: The Old Sheffield road is also referred to as Spencer Flats Road.
  2. ExSpencDhole          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.71297   W -111.37347        Elev: NaN Feet
    Junction where the main road makes a sweeping right hand turn going south and a less traveled looking road continues straight (east). Note: Following the right hand bend to go south goes out to an old drill hole site about 2.8 miles south. Following the less traveled road to the east can be driven about 0.9 miles to a large sandstone patio for parking just before the road becomes too sandy for vehicles. To go to the Spencer Canyon or TOD Canyon parking area continue straight (east) to the sandstone patio parking. A carefully driven passenger car can sometimes drive this sandy and deeply rutted road but high clearance and 4WD may be useful.
  3. pkSheffDhole1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.68011   W -111.37395        Elev: 5,730 Feet
    Parking area at the end of the Drill Hole Road. Be careful of deep sand. To get to Drill Hole Canyon walk west around the left (north) side of a sandstone hill then down a slickrock slope down into a minor drainage about 700 feet west of the parking area.
Drill Hole (2) - Approach
  1. pkSheffDhole1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.68011   W -111.37395        Elev: 5,730 Feet
    Parking area at the end of the Drill Hole Road. Be careful of deep sand. To get to Drill Hole Canyon walk west around the left (north) side of a sandstone hill then down a slickrock slope down into a minor drainage about 700 feet west of the parking area.
  2. DrillHole01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.68029   W -111.37623        Elev: NaN Feet
    In a minor drainage, turn left and follow southish down the minor drainage with a mix of walking and light scrambling.
  3. DrillHole02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.67628   W -111.37758        Elev: NaN Feet
    Minor drainage drops into a larger drainage. Look southeast across the large drainage to note an old road running southwest down along the LDC side (opposite side from the minor drainage). Find your way down into, across and back up the other side of major drainage and up onto the old road. Turn right and follow the old road southwest as it roughly follows the rim of the wash / canyon on your right.
  4. DrillHole03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.67338   W -111.38038        Elev: NaN Feet
    While following the road, keep an eye on the wash you are following and look for where the bank on the far side becomes a large sandy hillside and you also see a large outcropping about 450 feet ahead on the road you are following. Leave the old road and route find your way down gentle slopes down into the drainage below.
  5. DrillHole04          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.67323   W -111.38163        Elev: NaN Feet
    Once down in the wash turn left and follow down stream to the southwest.
  6. yDrillHoleTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.67222   W -111.38240        Elev: 5,430 Feet
    Top of Drill Hole Canyon where a few short drops are easily bypassed on the RDC side.
Drill Hole (3) - The Canyon
  1. yDrillHoleTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.67222   W -111.38240        Elev: 5,430 Feet
    Top of Drill Hole Canyon where a few short drops are easily bypassed on the RDC side.
  2. DrillHole05          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.67160   W -111.38276        Elev: NaN Feet
    Couple more drops to bypass RDC dropping back in the canyon about 150 feet down canyon.
  3. DrillHole06          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.67085   W -111.38311        Elev: NaN Feet
    Another small drop to walk around RDC.
  4. dDrillHoleR1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.67059   W -111.38337        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 1 - Drill Hole Canyon. Anchored from a deadman anchor and drops about 110 feet down 2 stages. Optionally you can use a large tree about 40 feet up the RDC side as the anchor but this may create rope pull issues. Note: One book author suggests leaving your rope at rap 1 and retrieve it on the hike out. This turns out to be a horrible idea due to rough terrain taking a lot longer to navigate than simply carrying the rope through the canyon with you. Carrying a rope over this short route is a LOT easier than navigating the convoluted terrain to go retrieve the rope later. Just carry the rope.
  5. DrillHole07          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.66687   W -111.38209        Elev: NaN Feet
    Big drop in the wash. Walk about 130 feet over to the head of a side ravine on the LDC (east) side and downclimb the ravine to the canyon floor. The ravine is narrow and overall very easy to downclimb with the last 20 feet being in a vertical narrow crack but is an easy stem downclimb.
  6. DrillHole08          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.66654   W -111.38202        Elev: NaN Feet
    Bottom of a side canyon coming in on the LDC side near the bottom of the downclimb ravine. Continuing down canyon is all easy travel with a mix of long corridors and more open canyon. Note: You can walk and scramble your way up into this side canyon for some cool air in a chamber like area. You can get about 200 feet up into this side canyon to a dry fall of about 20 feet tall.
  7. DrillHole09          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.66409   W -111.38168        Elev: NaN Feet
    Set of cross joints, one on each side. The RDC cross joint you can walk up into a short distance to the base of a 60 foot dry fall.
  8. DrillHole10          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.66336   W -111.38145        Elev: NaN Feet
    Drop of about 20 feet that is bypassed by scrambling up on the RDC side over to then down a short ravine downclimb back to the canyon floor.
  9. dDrillHoleR2          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.66312   W -111.38160        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 2 - Drill Hole Canyon. Drop of about 20 feet in the watercourse where you scramble up the RDC side up steep slickrock to the anchors. Anchored from a large rock outcropping and drops about 45 feet down mostly vertical wall.
  10. dDrillHoleR3          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.66267   W -111.38196        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 3 - Drill Hole Canyon. Drop of about 25 feet in the watercourse where you scramble up the RDC side up gently sloped slickrock to the anchors. Anchored from a rock pile and uses about 55 feet of rope travel as the rap rolls off vertical with lots of features and loose rock.
  11. DrillHole11          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.66178   W -111.38313        Elev: NaN Feet
    Very large ravine drops in from the LDC side coming down from the up canyon direction. When you see this you are about 800 feet from the exit point.
  12. yDrillHoleBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.66038   W -111.38541        Elev: 5,180 Feet
    Bottom of Drill Hole Canyon where a large side wash comes in from the RDC side and drops down from the up canyon direction. To exit walk north up the RDC side wash for about 400 feet to where you can start walking up sloped slickrock. Note: You can walk a long way down canyon from here with easy walking with some long corridor like sections. If looking for a little scenery you can walk as far as you like and return back to here to exit the canyon.
Drill Hole (4) - Exit
  1. yDrillHoleBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.66038   W -111.38541        Elev: 5,180 Feet
    Bottom of Drill Hole Canyon where a large side wash comes in from the RDC side and drops down from the up canyon direction. To exit walk north up the RDC side wash for about 400 feet to where you can start walking up sloped slickrock. Note: You can walk a long way down canyon from here with easy walking with some long corridor like sections. If looking for a little scenery you can walk as far as you like and return back to here to exit the canyon.
  2. DrillHole12          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.66144   W -111.38508        Elev: NaN Feet
    Start walking up sloped slickrock up out of the wash and continue up to the northeast and veering left away from the drainage up to a ridge.
  3. DrillHole13          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.66203   W -111.38454        Elev: NaN Feet
    Grade gets a little more gentle and ridge begins to form. Continue northeast up the ridge.
  4. DrillHole14          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.66332   W -111.38321        Elev: NaN Feet
    Ridge becomes more defined but still wide. You will also start to see a large, tall beehive peak and a tall phallic shaped hoodoo about 800 feet to the left (north). Continue up the ride scrambling where needed and find your way over to a saddle between the beehive and the hoodoo.
  5. DrillHole15          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.66565   W -111.38320        Elev: NaN Feet
    Ridge gets to more gentle terrain at the saddle between the beehive and hoodoo. Resist the urge to go north following up the canyon. Instead veer left to walk northwest about 650 feet to where you can see down into the next valley.
  6. DrillHole16          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.66661   W -111.38490        Elev: NaN Feet
    Looking northwest over the valley below look for some fence posts about 1000 feet away on the other side of the valley. Those fence posts are at the end of an old road. Route find your way northwest toward the fence posts down into and across the valley. You can aim a bit right (north) of the fence posts since you will be turning northish when you hit the road anyway.
  7. DrillHole17          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.66867   W -111.38764        Elev: NaN Feet
    Route gets to the old road where you then turn right and follow the old road with easy walking to the northeast.
  8. DrillHole18          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.67860   W -111.38237        Elev: NaN Feet
    Junction in the road. Leave the junction and walk open desert northeast over to and up the hill back to your car park about 0.5 miles away. While crossing this section of open desert you will get to the same minor drainage (DrillHole01) you started down near the start of the route then up the same slickrock hill back up to the car.
  9. DrillHole01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.68029   W -111.37623        Elev: NaN Feet
    In a minor drainage, turn left and follow southish down the minor drainage with a mix of walking and light scrambling.
  10. pkSheffDhole1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.68011   W -111.37395        Elev: 5,730 Feet
    Parking area at the end of the Drill Hole Road. Be careful of deep sand. To get to Drill Hole Canyon walk west around the left (north) side of a sandstone hill then down a slickrock slope down into a minor drainage about 700 feet west of the parking area.