Cara MacDonald

Looking for a new Utah hike? Try Grandstaff Canyon

By Cara MacDonald, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Aug. 5, 2020 at 12:16 p.m.


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MOAB — A lush oasis tucked neatly between soaring red-rock cliffs, Grandstaff Canyon trail is a timeless classic located near Moab, which is doable for the whole family.

This trail is around 4.3 miles out-and-back, according to All Trails. The hike is rated as moderate, primarily due to some cliffy portions and technical trail toward the end of the hike. A popular hike, Grandstaff trail may be used for anything from hiking to birdwatching.

How to get there

Begin this hike at the Grandstaff Canyon Trailhead, which is located along the Colorado River.

To get there from Moab, drive along U.S. Highway 191 toward I-70 for about 2 ½ miles, where you will turn right onto UT-128. The turn is hard to miss because it is just before crossing the Colorado River. You will soon see Grandstaff Canyon Trailhead off to your right about 3 miles up UT-128. Park in the small parking lot and begin your hike from there.

The hike

This out-and-back hike features only 387 feet of elevation gain, making it doable for even inexperienced hikers, according to All Trails. Despite the gentle incline, though, there are many different kinds of terrain a hiker may encounter on this hike, ranging from sand to mud and loose rocks, and thus appropriate footwear and caution are encouraged.

The trail, particularly toward the base of the canyon, is indistinct in places and you might find yourself on one of several routes up. For the most part, all the trails will lead to the same place, but to ensure you stay on track try to stick to the most well-established paths.

About 1 ½ miles in, the trail will begin to curve right with the canyon and you will ascend onto a more exposed part of the trail. Follow the path until you reach Morning Glory Natural Bridge at the top.

Though the arch is not nearly as impressive as other arches in the Moab area, standing below with the cliff soaring 75 feet above is quite awe-inspiring. While there, you might encounter canyoneering groups rappelling down from the top of the large arch.

Please note that this hike is peppered with poison-ivy, so before hiking make sure you are aware of what poison ivy looks like and avoid coming into contact with the plant. Also note that in spring, fall, and winter temperatures on this hike are very pleasant, but it can be extremely hot and dry in the summer. Bring plenty of water (at least one quart) and perhaps a bathing suit so you can stop to swim in the creek as you ascend the canyon.

Despite the heat, this hike is pleasant and beautiful. This timeless Moab classic is a must-do for any visitor to the Arches and Canyonlands area.

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Cara MacDonald

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