Tenmile Canyon and Spring Canyon Point

For our last camping trip of 2018, Chris and I headed to the area northwest of Moab. I hit my goal of camping at least once each month, reaching 28 nights for the year (not counting camping in my trailer, which would put me at 43). For 2019 I’m aiming for the same monthly goal, but with at least 45 nights total. As we drove toward Tenmile Canyon, I spotted some patinated cliffs that were worth checking out. There was a lot of lithic scatter at the base of the cliffs, and a few crude, weathered petroglyphs. We also stopped at some old (presumably) mining buildings near Dee Pass, then moved along and found a spot to camp near Tenmile Canyon. I’d brought plenty of firewood, and we spent the cold evening around a fire trying to keep warm. We double up our sleeping bags and slept comfortable under the stars in our cots despite temperatures in the mid-teens.

Prolific lithic scatter
Prolific lithic scatter

Beautiful patina
Beautiful patina

Ruined bulding at Dee Pass
Ruined bulding at Dee Pass

Stone cabin at Dee Pass
Stone cabin at Dee Pass

Chris holding up the cabin
Chris holding up the cabin

Pastel La Sals
Pastel La Sals

Keeping warm at the fire
Keeping warm at the fire

We awoke with our sleeping bags covered in frost. After packing up camp we drove into Tenmile Canyon. I’d read a guidebook that mentioned some points of interest there, but we also wandered around and found some things not mentioned there. Our first stop was at a nice-looking cliff that held a few petroglyphs.

Frost covered sleeping bag
Frost covered sleeping bag

Chris sleeping in
Chris sleeping in

Jeep under a large cottonwood branch
Jeep under a large cottonwood branch

Handprint petroglyph
Handprint petroglyph

Antenna man
Antenna man

Four large petroglyph circles, each with different markings inside
Four large petroglyph circles, each with different markings inside

I love it when I find a sign like this
I love it when I find a sign like this

Next we hiked to several alcoves which held a variety of Native American artifacts, cowboy writings, and rock art. There were many metates, grinding slicks, and sharpening grooves throughout the alcoves. In one we found somebody’s food stash which had been invaded by bugs and smelled horrible!

Footprints in the snow
Footprints in the snow

Approaching an alcove
Approaching an alcove

Chris in the alcove
Chris in the alcove

Metate fragments
Metate fragments

A.U. Murry, June 1930
A.U. Murry, June 1930

Hallie Tomlinson writing from 1930, and a snake petroglyph
Hallie Tomlinson writing from 1930, and a snake petroglyph

Possible structure in an alcove
Possible structure in an alcove

Chris in a large alcove
Chris in a large alcove

Grinding slicks and corn cobs
Grinding slicks and corn cobs

Corn cobs
Corn cobs

Grinding slicks and inscriptions on a boulder
Grinding slicks and inscriptions on a boulder

Mokie Home inscription
Mokie Home inscription

Yet another alcove
Yet another alcove

Barrier Canyon style pictographs
Barrier Canyon style pictographs

Chris found somebody’s food stash
Chris found somebody's food stash

Nasty food cache buried in an alcove
Nasty food cache buried in an alcove

In the last remaining light of Saturday, we hiked an unnamed side canyon of Tenmile Canyon. While driving there we accidentally found ourselves part of a Jeep convoy. After leaving the main road there was one steep, sandy, snowy climb. I made a couple of unsuccessful attempts in 4-high, then shifted into 4-low and made it up the hill. I didn’t know what to expect in this canyon but it seemed a good place to explore. We didn’t find much there except for one pretty rock, but it made for a nice hike. We drove into the dark and found a place to camp on Spring Canyon Point. It was colder that night but we were still plenty comfy and burned a lot of firewood.

Tight squeeze between cottonwood trees
Tight squeeze between cottonwood trees

Driving behind a Jeep convoy
Driving behind a Jeep convoy

Starting down an unnamed side canyon off Tenmile Canyon
Starting down an unnamed side canyon off Tenmile Canyon

Hoodoo
Hoodoo

Water trough
Water trough

Checking out a small overhang
Checking out a small overhang

Crashing down a crumbly slope
Crashing down a crumbly slope

Slickrock canyon bottom
Slickrock canyon bottom

Cattle fence
Cattle fence

Ooh, a pretty rock!
Ooh, a pretty rock!

Seep in a layer of sandstone
Seep in a layer of sandstone

On Sunday morning Chris and I went to Secret Spire. From there we hiked to some alcoves that I’d taken notice of on my first visit eight years earlier. Once we got down off the slickrock there was a well-worn trail leading through the sandy soil. These alcoves were much like those we’d visited in Tenmile Canyon the previous day, but with no rock art or inscriptions. There were several metates and potsherds in the largest alcove.

Icy pothole near Secret Spire
Icy pothole near Secret Spire

View toward the Needles
View toward the Needles

Secret Spire
Secret Spire

Well-traveled trail to some alcoves
Well-traveled trail to some alcoves

Pecked grinding stone
Pecked grinding stone

Approaching the alcoves
Approaching the alcoves

Frost on some flowers
Frost on some flowers

Metate
Metate

Potsherds
Potsherds

Storage cists, or looter holes?
Storage cists, or looter holes?

View out of an alcove
View out of an alcove

State Trust Land sign
State Trust Land sign

Chris in another alcove
Chris in another alcove

One last alcove
One last alcove

A fork of Spring Canyon
A fork of Spring Canyon

Our next stop was just south of the Needles. There was a geocache at a small, lone sandstone spire that we wanted to find. On the spire I found carved the Tibbetts name, but no first name or date. We visited Dellenbaugh Tunnel, which is a natural bridge a couple hundred feet deep. A watercourse flows through and allows easy passage.

The Needles shrouded in fog
The Needles shrouded in fog

A spire south of the Needles
A spire south of the Needles

Bird photobomb
Bird photobomb

Tibbetts inscription
Tibbetts inscription

Dellenbaugh Tunnel
Dellenbaugh Tunnel

Finally, we checked out the Grotto, which Chris had never been to. I’d been there once before and didn’t take a lot of photos this time. And, being in such a dark space, the photos I took are quite blurry. It was a quick (but muddy) drive back to I-70 from there, and then we headed toward home with another successful winter camping trip under our belts.

Chris photographing rock art near the Grotto
Chris photographing rock art near the Grotto

The Grotto
The Grotto

Chris in the Grotto
Chris in the Grotto

Red handprints
Red handprints

White handprints
White handprints

Barrier Canyon style pictographs near the Grotto
Barrier Canyon style pictographs near the Grotto


Photo Gallery: Tenmile Canyon and Spring Canyon Point