Category Archives: Book Cliffs

Lila Canyon

I recently got to do something that few rock art enthusiasts will. Alan secured permission for us to explore around the Lila Canyon mine property where, just above the mine portal, there’s a lone Fremont pictograph. Along with permission came stipulations that we wear steel-toed shoes and hard hats. Alan had heard about more possible rock art on the next cliff band above the portal, and I’d even stood just outside the mine property with binoculars and could spot some red splotches in that area but couldn’t make them out clearly due to the long distance. We began our hike on Saturday morning and went first up Lila Canyon to search out a couple of old mine breakouts from the Horse Canyon mine, which was opened during World War II to supply coal to the Geneva Steel plant in Utah County. We had seen the breakouts from high above on the Little Park Road but hadn’t quite figured out how to approach them from below. The hike up the canyon was moderately rugged, but after about a mile the route ahead looked extremely bouldery. We decided that perhaps the mine openings were above the canyon floor so we began to climb the steep slope to the west. Alan and I split up, but eventually met back up right at the mine breakouts. The first opening we approached was fenced off with chain link and cable, and a short distance inside was a cinder block wall. The second opening looked much older. Instead of concrete lining the opening, it was shored up with rough pine timbers.

Entrance to the mine property
Entrance to the mine property

Hiking up Lila Canyon
Hiking up Lila Canyon

Bouldery canyon
Bouldery canyon

Climbing out the west side
Climbing out the west side

Coal seam
Coal seam

Breakout from the Geneva/Horse Canyon mine
Breakout from the Geneva/Horse Canyon mine

Dates and initials in chalk
Dates and initials in chalk

Alan taking photos through the fence
Alan taking photos through the fence

Dates and initials, including a friend’s name
Dates and initials, including a friend's name

Behind the fence
Behind the fence

Gloves in dried mud
Gloves in dried mud

Ineffective rock wall
Ineffective rock wall

Inside the second breakout
Inside the second breakout

Cardboard sign
Cardboard sign

Next we headed back down the canyon and then climbed up above the mine portal. The rock art we expected to find there was actually some natural iron stains on the sandstone. :( We descended to a spot where we could view the pictograph at the mine portal and realized that it was no longer possible to access it up close from below–the ledge below the rock art had been blasted away–so we settled for looking at it from above. Alan had visited it in 2008 before the mine portal was opened, so I’m including some of his close-up photos.

Daisies
Daisies

Climbing above the Lila Canyon mine
Climbing above the Lila Canyon mine

Bouldery slope
Bouldery slope

Lila Canyon mine
Lila Canyon mine

Lila Canyon mine
Lila Canyon mine

Coal on the conveyor
Coal on the conveyor

Natural red streaks that we mistook for pictographs
Natural red streaks that we mistook for pictographs

Ventilation fan above the mine portal
Ventilation fan above the mine portal

Claret cup cactus
Claret cup cactus

Lila Canyon mine portal
Lila Canyon mine portal

Ledge with Fremont pictograph above the mine portal
Ledge with Fremont pictograph above the mine portal

Fremont pictograph (2008 photo by Alan Peterson)
Fremont pictograph (2008 photo by Alan Peterson)

DStretch-enhanced Fremont pictograph (2008 photo by Alan Peterson)
DStretch-enhanced Fremont pictograph (2008 photo by Alan Peterson)

On the return hike we followed a small drainage where the mine water is discharged. It must be very rich in minerals, ’cause the sand, gravel, plant roots, any anything else in the watercourse was covered in a thick layer of minerals. Our hike was only about four miles, but it was rough enough that I got a pretty good workout.

Mineral-covered rocks
Mineral-covered rocks

Sand and gravel covered in minerals
Sand and gravel covered in minerals

Thick mineral deposits on plant roots
Thick mineral deposits on plant roots

Thick mineral deposits on plant roots
Thick mineral deposits on plant roots

Claret cup cactus, daisies, and globemallow
Claret cup cactus, daisies, and globemallow

Below the Lila Canyon mine
Below the Lila Canyon mine


Photo Gallery: Lila Canyon
GPS Track and Photo Waypoints:
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