May 24-27, 2019
On Memorial Day weekend Chris and I returned to lower Horseshoe Canyon almost exactly two years after our earlier trip there. On that trip we searched for but failed to find some rumored rock art in an alcove somewhere in the lower canyon, but we spent too much time thrashing through thick growth and never made it to the mouth. This time we drove to the end of the Spur road on Friday evening and camped under the stars on cots, which we decided to buy on that trip two years earlier and have slept on them for the vast majority of our camping trips since. We rose early on Saturday morning and made our way to the mouth of Horseshoe Canyon.
We descended the impressive Angel Trail, and along the way wildflowers were abundant and water was flowing in the bottom of Horseshoe Canyon. We headed straight down-canyon, keeping an eye out for any alcoves or rock art but not seeing anything promising. At one point we climbed out of the canyon and walked along a relatively flat bench so we could have good views of the upper cliff bands. As we approached the mouth of the canyon we spotted a couple of granaries and some nearby faint rock art that was impossible to photograph due to the morning lighting conditions. Right at the mouth we encountered some petroglyphs and pictographs, as well as the ruined remains of some granaries, but not the Barrier Canyon style pictographs we were looking for. There were also several inscriptions, the oldest dating to 1892 by H.J. Hogan, an early runner of the Green River who journeyed with Arthur Wheeler that year. Here’s a (now) humorous Deseret News article by Jerry Spangler written 100 years later trying to ascertain the identity of this Hogan vandal.
Chris and I continued a short distance upstream along the Green to the upper end of the abandoned meander known as the Frog. Besides a couple of Barrier Canyon style-looking petroglyphs we didn’t see much. We probably should have continued up into the Frog to make a loop back to the Angel Trail, but instead we followed our tracks back up Horseshoe Canyon. I was surprised to see some dead fish in the section of watercourse that we’d skipped earlier by walking the bench above. We took it easy hiking the 1,000 feet up the Angel Trail and reached the Jeep by 4PM. We’d hike 11 miles in about eight hours and were beat, so we decided to head back to the end of the Spur road to camp again.
We slept in a little later on Sunday morning and then drove up the Spur Road. We didn’t have big plans for the rest of the weekend, and we stopped at three places near Willow Spring and Windy Point Spring that looked interesting to me in Google Earth. At the first spot there were some Entrada Sandstone cliffs and a small pillar of rock that held a single inscription by D.T. from 1935. In the second area I thought I’d seen an alcove in the satellite imagery but it turned out to be nothing and I didn’t even take any photos for the short hike. At our third stop we found a large metal trough near two alcoves and a small seep along with a weathered 1940 inscription.
Next we hiked to the head of Big Spring Canyon. CCPN mentions a stock trail near the two forks at the head of this canyon, but we walked the rim between the forks, with a good view of the opposite rims, and I can say with certainty there’s no trail in that area. We were wiped out from the previous day’s hike and decided to find a place to camp early that day. We settled down at the south end of Twin Corral Flats and relaxed well into the evening, sleeping on our cots despite some windy conditions. At about 5AM it started raining and we rushed to throw our gear into the Jeep and slept the rest of the morning in the front seats, though it stopped raining after we settled in and everything was dry outside when we eventually awakened.
We packed up camp on Monday morning and planned to head straight home, but along the way I remembered hearing about many inscriptions at Dripping Spring near where UT-24 crosses the San Rafael River. I didn’t have coordinates in my GPS but we found the spot easily and found hundreds of inscriptions from before the time when the highway was paved along its current alignment. We made one final stop at the Elgin Cemetery near Green River to visit the grave of E.T. Wolverton. Since Wolverton comes up often during our conversations, it seemed a fitting ending to our Memorial Day trip.
Photo Gallery: Lower Horseshoe Canyon II