Canyoneering Route Description

Bluejohn Canyon - Little West Fork - 3A II
Robbers Roost, Utah.

Quick Facts

10-13-13, 8 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 3.75 hours) Pictures Icon

Time Required - 3 to 4 hours
Distance - 4.2 miles Total, 0.4 miles Technical
Rappels - 2 Rappels, Longest Rappel 50 feet.
Elevation Range - 5790 - 5300 Feet
Shuttle Required - No Miles Vehicle - High Clearance recommended, 4WD if bad road conditions Permit Required - No

Gear Used for Canyon

Rappelling and anchor gear, Ropes and or pull cords for rappels up to 50 feet and 30 feet of 1 inch webbing for sling placement.  30 feet of webbing is suggested so you have plenty on hand to extend the anchor for rappel 1 all the way over to the lip of the drop to reduce rope grooves.

General Comments

The Little West Fork of Bluejohn Canyon is a different fork than the West Fork.  The Little West Fork of Bluejohn is sometimes referred to as Little Bluejohn Canyon.

The Little West Fork of Blue John is a very short route with a long exit of easy desert walking.  Down in the Little West Fork the slot feels deep and is very pretty.  The open desert on the exit has its own beauty.  Makes for a quick and sweet treat if looking for a short day out.

Navigation Warning:
The terrain here is very forgiving which means two things.  1. you can find lots of different ways and trails to get where you want to be.  2. You can very easily get lost if you do not pay attention to your navigation.

On the approach navigation is pretty simple.  Just walk to the drainage and find a way in then walk down canyon.  On the exit the terrain is easy to travel but you are a long way from your cars and need to travel on the correct bearing.  Be sure you have good navigating skills or use GPS or at least stare at a compass a lot.  It is a big wide open desert out there. 

Driving Directions

To get to the Trailhead

From the junction of Highways 24 and 95 in Hanksville Utah, drive north on Highway 24 about 16.2 miles to a turn off for a dirt road on the right (east) side of the road (ExtRobRoost).  This turn off is just across the highway from the Little Gilson Butte.

Drive east on the un-named dirt road continuing past a small building with a water tank about 0.5 miles from the highway.  This small building and tank is close to what some maps label as Gilson Butte Well (wGilsonButeWel).  

About 2.0 miles from the highway will be an intersection with a major dirt road (extFlintTrail1).  Some maps have this road labeled as the Flint Trail and other have it labeled as the Lower San Rafael Road.  Turn right (south) on to this large dirt road.  

After turning onto the Lower San Rafael Road, drive 4.1 miles to where the road turns left (east) and passes by a large corral (wJefferyWell).  This turn in the road is next to what is labeled as Jeffery Well on some maps.

After passing Jeffery Well drive east about 2.8 miles and pass through a gate which is on the south side of the Little Flat Top (wLittleFltTpGt).  This gate is also at the top out of the road.

Continue beyond the gate following the road east then slowly turning toward the south and passing along the south side of The Big Flat Tops.  About 6.0 miles after the gate will be a turn off to a road on the right (extFlintTrail2).  Stay left and continue east on the Lower San Rafael Road.

Continuing east, stay on the very obvious main road ignoring small occasional un-signed side roads for about 9.4 miles to a major junction (extHansFlat).  At this junction are signs for Hans Flat to the right (south).  This is where you will leave the Lower San Rafael Road by turning right (south) onto the Hans Flat Road towards Hans Flat Ranger station.

Drive south on the Hans Flat Road for 6.74 miles to dirt road on the left (extSandPipes).  Park at the junction with the side road. 

Note:
This small side road leave the Hans Flat road to travel north east and may be easy to miss.  About 0.27 miles farther south on the Hans Flat road will be a large major junction where a few roads meet and is signed pointing you down Hans Flat Road, the Burr Pass Road or the Ekkr Ranch Road.  If you get to this major junction you went too far.  Simply turn around and drive about 0.27 miles back to the side road to Sandpipes.

Note:
The roads appear to be well maintained and should be easily traveled by passenger cars all the way to Motel 6 / Granary Spring unless recent rains have messed stuff up.

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.

Details

The Approach:
From the parking spot at the road junction (extSandPipes),  Leave the parking area and walk about 0.72 miles southeast through the open desert on a bearing of 282 degrees (true not magnetic).

Note:
The desert is open and easy to walk about any way you like.  Aiming at 282 degrees from the parking spot will get you to a small side drainage that begins to form running down into the upper non technical portion of the Little West Fork.  If you have GPS use it to get to the start of the little side drainage.  If you have a compass set your bearing and go.  If your aim is a little off you will hit the drainage any way, just not where this route description does.  It will be pretty easy to find your way down into the long upper non technical portions of the canyon in many spots.

About 0.72 miles from the car is a drop of about 30 feet where a small drainage is beginning to form (wBJC-LWF-RP01).  This drop is easily bypassed by walking around it LDC or RDC and walking down to the wash below.

Once in the wash continue walking northeast down the wash with a mix of crumbly rock and dirt walls on both sides and lots of places to get into or out of the wash if desired.  About 0.7 miles down the wash will be a slot that the wash drops down into (yBJC-LWF-Tp) and is where the technical portion of the route begins.

The Canyoneering / Technical Section:
At the start of the slot (yBJC-LWF-Tp) is a down climb of about 15 feet that is a little difficult as you slide slide down in V slot.  Optionally it can be rigged as a rappel.

After the entry down climb walk down canyon for a ways on flat ground with a few easy downclimbs ranging from 3 to 8 feet each. 

A little over 300 feet down canyon from the drop in is a downclimb of about 15 feet (wBJC-LWF-RP02).  The downclimb is stem style down through boulder debris.  Just after this down climb the narrow slot begins to widen out to a shallow feeling with V slanted walls.  About 450 feet down canyon of the boulder debris downclimb tis the top of rap 1.

Rap 1 (dBJC-LWF-R1) Anchored about 15 feet back from the drop from a large juniper tree and drops about 50 feet down into a deep slot.  Please be sure to extend the webbing all the way over to the lip of the rappel so the rope does not create grooves in the rock when pulling the ropes.

Note:
Pulling the ropes from the bottom of the rappel is creating rope grooves at the top from rope drag.  To help reduce creation of rope grooves it may be helpful to stand on the boulder at the bottom of the rappel and pull the rope from there.  The boulder is about 12 feet high and is an easy downclimb with a partner assist to get down from.  Everyone can rappel all the way through while only the last person pulls the ropes from the boulder then downclimbs the 12 feet.  

After rap 1 are 2 easy 6 foot downclimbs (one sliding down a V slot the other stem style) followed by a drop of about 15 feet that is also easy to downclimb as it drops down a twisted slopped section.  Near the bottom of the 15 foot downclimb is rap 2.

Rap 2 (dBJC-LWF-R2) is about 150 feet down canyon of rap 1, is anchored a pinch point between a boulder and the LDC wall and drops about 50 feet.

After rap 2 is a corridor and easy travel for about 0.25 miles to the end of the Little West Fork of Bluejohn Canyon (yBLC-LWF-Bt) where it dumps into the Main Fork of Bluejohn Canyon.

The Exit:
When you get to the end of the Little West Fork (yBJC-LWF-Bt) turn left to walk north down the Main Fork of Bluejohn Canyon.

Continue down the Main Fork of Bluejohn Canyon in a wider wash like area for about 0.2 miles to where a small side drainage / canyon joins in from the LDC (northwest) side (yTurnerCynBt).  This side canyon is Turner Canyon.  Continue down the Main Fork.

About 650 feet after passing Turner Canyon you will get to where the wash is making a long sweeping turn to the right.  In the apex of that sweeping turn is a spot on the LDC (northwest) side to walk up gently sloped slickrock to get out of the canyon (jBJC-LWF-Exit1).  Start up the slope to begin the exit out of Bluejohn Canyon.

As you look up the slope notice a red capped peak in the center with a slope going up either side of it.  Walk up the slope to the left (west) of the red capped peak.

Example Pic. To start up out of the Main Fork of Bluejohn Canyon and use the Little West Fork Exit, start up the slope to the left of the red capped peak.

About 170 feet up out of the Main Fork of Bluejohn the slop will become more gentle (wBJC-LWF-ExRP01) and you can see you are entering a large wide shallow drainage.  Do not follow up the drainage forming but instead turn left to walk / route find your way up to the mesa top.

The mesa top is about 400 feet to the west.  To get up there route find your way up the slickrock which does get a little steep in sections.  Just before reaching the mesa top there will likely be a couple spots of light scrambling.

Once on the mesa top (wBJC-LWF-ExRP02) it is about 1.7 miles back to the parking area where you started the route from the junction of the Hans Flat Road and the side road leading out to the sandpipes area.  If you have GPS it may be useful since travel is easy in pretty much any direction which may get you lost if careless.  If you have a compass use it to set a course to the southwest on a bearing of 250 degrees true north (or 238 degrees magnetic).

About 350 feet farther and you will be up on a slightly higher shelf of the mesa and roughly following next to a small canyon on the left (south).  That small canyon is Turner Canyon.  Continue southwest across the desert.

About 0.17 miles farther is a small hill to go around (wBJC-LWF-ExRP03).  The route I have taken is around the left (south) side of the hill but going around the other side may work just as well.

About 0.2 miles farther you will be passing by a few slickrock dome like areas (wBJC-LWF-ExRP04).

Shortly after passing the slickrock domes you should be able to see an hill system ahead and slightly to the left of your travel bearing.  Extending to the right (north) of the hill system us a long ridge running to the north and very low to the horizon.  If navigating visually aim for a spot directly between the hill system and the for north end of the long low ridge.

You still have over a mile to go.  Keep in mind this area has very few easy to identify landmarks.  You will need descent navigating skills to stay on course or use GPS.

Walk the open desert back to your cars (extSandPipes).

Note:
If you are a little off on your bearing you will still hit a road.  If you hit a road and you do not see your cars all you have to do is determine which way you need to walk to get back to them.

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.

Bluejohn Little West Fork (1) Drive to Trailhead
  1. ExtRobRoost          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.58715   W -110.59263        Elev: 5,120 Feet
    Exit for an un-named road used to access the Robbers Roost area.
  2. wGilsonButeWel          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.58688   W -110.58377        Elev: NaN Feet
    Building and small water tank near what is labeled on some maps as Gilso Butte Well.
  3. extFlintTrail          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.58822   W -110.55632        Elev: NaN Feet
    Turn off from an un-named dirt road onto the Lower San Rafeal Road.
  4. wJefferyWell          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.53010   W -110.54118        Elev: 5,280 Feet
    Road turns left here on the drive into Robbers Roost. There are corrals along side the road here.
  5. wLittleFltTpGt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.53837   W -110.49108        Elev: 5,520 Feet
    A gate the road passes by on the south side of The Little Flat Top.
  6. extFlintTrail2          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.49947   W -110.41446        Elev: NaN Feet
    This is where you can turn left (south) to leave the Flint Trail and drive in towards Chambers. Or continue straight (east) to continue farther east into the Roost area for other canyons.
  7. extHansFlat          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.47252   W -110.28042        Elev: 5,521 Feet
    Exit off the Lower San Rafeal Road to the Hans Flat Road.
  8. extSandPipes          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.38046   W -110.30380        Elev: 5,790 Feet
    Turn off of the Hans Flat road to go toward the West Fork of Bluejohn and out toward an area also known as Sandpipes. This road leave the Hans Flat road and travels north east.
Bluejohn Little West Fork (2) Approach and Canyon
  1. extSandPipes          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.38046   W -110.30380        Elev: 5,790 Feet
    Turn off of the Hans Flat road to go toward the West Fork of Bluejohn and out toward an area also known as Sandpipes. This road leave the Hans Flat road and travels north east.
  2. wBJC-LWF-RP01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.37700   W -110.29105        Elev: 5,715 Feet
    Drop of about 30 feet where a small side drainage is beginning to form in the upper non technical portion of the Little West Fork of Bluejohn Canyon. Bypass the drop by walking around RDC or LDC and walk down to the wash below.
  3. yBJC-LWF-Tp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.38154   W -110.28273        Elev: 5,550 Feet
    Top entry of the Little West Fork of Bluejohn Canyon (aka Little Bluejohn Canyon). This is where the wide wash drops into a slot. There is a down climb of about 15 feet that may be a little difficult as you slide down a V slot. Optionally this drop can be rigged as a rappel.
  4. wBJC-LWF-RP02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.38229   W -110.28199        Elev: NaN Feet
    Downclimb of about 15 feet and is a stem style downclimb down through some boulder debris.
  5. dBJC-LWF-R1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.38291   W -110.28058        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 1 - Bluejohn Canyon - Little West Fork. Anchored about 15 feet back from the drop from a large juniper tree and drops about 50 feet down into a deep slot. Note: Pulling the ropes from the bottom of the rappel is creating rope grooves at the top from rope drag.  To help reduce creation of rope grooves it may be helpful to stand on the boulder at the bottom of the rappel and pull the rope from there.  The boulder is about 12 feet high and is an easy downclimb with a partner assist to get down from.  Everyone can rappel all the way through while only the last person pulls the ropes from the boulder then downclimbs the 12 feet.  
  6. dBJC-LWF-R2          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.38305   W -110.28008        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 2 - Bluejohn Canyon - Little West Fork. Anchored from a pinch point between a boulder and the LDC wall and drops about 50 feet.
  7. yBJC-LWF-Bt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.38528   W -110.27690        Elev: 5,340 Feet
    Bottom of The Little West Fork of Bluejohn Canyon. Some refer to this fork as Little Bluejohn Canyon. Down canyon of this spot is wash walking in kind of wide canyon. Up canyon in the Main Fork of this spot the walls become more narrow creating a scenic narrows..
Bluejohn Little West Fork (3) Exit
  1. yBJC-LWF-Bt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.38528   W -110.27690        Elev: 5,340 Feet
    Bottom of The Little West Fork of Bluejohn Canyon. Some refer to this fork as Little Bluejohn Canyon. Down canyon of this spot is wash walking in kind of wide canyon. Up canyon in the Main Fork of this spot the walls become more narrow creating a scenic narrows..
  2. yTurnerCynBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.38784   W -110.27485        Elev: NaN Feet
    Bottom of Turner Canyon where it dumps into the Main Fork of Bluejohn Canyon.
  3. jBJC-LWF-Exit1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.38891   W -110.27319        Elev: 5,300 Feet
    A spot where you can walk up gently sloped sandstone to exit the canyon on the LDC (northwest) side. When looking up the ramp there stay left to go up the slope to the left (west) of the red capped peak.
  4. wBJC-LWF-ExRP01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.38930   W -110.27345        Elev: 5,330 Feet
    About 170 feet up out of the Main Fork turn left here to head west up the slickrock to gain access to the mesa top.
  5. wBJC-LWF-ExRP02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.38879   W -110.27454        Elev: 5,440 Feet
    Up on the mesa top where you start the long desert walk back to the vehicles.
  6. wBJC-LWF-ExRP03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.38787   W -110.27894        Elev: 5,520 Feet
    Small hill to go around. The route I have taken is to the left around the south side of the hill but the other side may work just as well.
  7. wBJC-LWF-ExRP04          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.38764   W -110.28294        Elev: 5,610 Feet
    Passing by some slickrock domes in the desert.
  8. extSandPipes          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.38046   W -110.30380        Elev: 5,790 Feet
    Turn off of the Hans Flat road to go toward the West Fork of Bluejohn and out toward an area also known as Sandpipes. This road leave the Hans Flat road and travels north east.