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Trail Info: Hole-in-the-Rock Trail, SE Utah

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Hole-in-the-Rock Trail


Location: Southeast Utah, in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (Lake Powell)


Park Entrance Fee:

1-7 Day Vehicle Pass - $20

Good for one single, private, non-commercial vehicle and all its passengers.

Available 24/7 at Hall's Crossing at a kiosk on the right as you enter.

The kiosk accepts CREDIT CARDS ONLY.

There is no extra fee or permit required for primitive camping within the Glen Canyon Recreation Area.


How to get there: Google Map


From Flagstaff, AZ:Take Hwy 89 north to Hwy 160, turn right. Take Hwy 160 east to Hwy 163 at Keyenta, turn left. Take Hwy 163 north through Monument Valley; 3.9 miles past Mexican Hat, turn left on Hwy 261. Take Hwy 261 northwest to Hwy. 95, turn left. Take Hwy 95 west 9.4 miles to Hwy 276, turn left. Take Hwy 276 west to Hall’s Crossing Marina.


From Moab, UT:[/font] Take Hwy 191 south to 3.8 miles south of Blanding, turn right on Hwy 95. Take Hwy 95 west to Hwy 276, turn left. Take Hwy 276 west to Hall’s Crossing Marina.


From Green River, UT: Take I-70 west to Hwy 24, go south. At Hanksville, go left on Hwy 95, south to Hwy 276. Take Hwy 276 south to Bullfrog Marina. Take ferry across Lake Powell to Hall’s Crossing Marina.


There are 3+ trailheads into the Hole-in-the-Rock Trail area. On the map linked above, the one marked A, next to the airport, is how we went in on day 1 to access the Lake Canyon Trail; the other 2 shown access Nokai Dome Road more directly.


Nearby Services:

Hall’s Crossing Marina Store – 9AM to 5PM Daily

    Gas, Air
  • Convenience Store (doesn’t carry a lot of selection for food or drinks)
  • Ice, Water
  • Hot Showers - $5.00 (Available FREE at the nearby campground, see below)

Calvin Black Memorial Airport

    Gas (a little cheaper per gallon than marina the first time we we were there but more expensive the next time)
  • Ice (way cheaper than at the marina)

Hall’s Crossing Campground

    Campsites $26 per night, limit 2 vehicles each
  • Group campsite $26 per each 2 vehicles
  • Tables, fire ring w/ grill, flush toilets, solar-heated showers (cold the first time, hot the next time)
  • Self-pay 24 Hours, CASH ONLY


Distance (in miles):


Hwy 276 & Nokai Dome Road to Hole-in-the-Rock end of trail: 26 miles on dirt.

We did this direct route on the way back in about 8 hours including stops. (See Day 3 Tracks)


Airport to Lake Canyon Washout, backtrack to Nokai shortcut, to Nokai Dome Road, to Hole-in-the-Rock connecting trail, to camp Day 1 camp: 20 miles on dirt. (See Day 1 Tracks)


Trail Rating(s):


  • Lake Canyon Trail from Airport to Washout: Easy to Difficult
  • Shortcut to Nokai Dome Road: Easy
  • Nokai Dome Road to Hole-in-the-Rock Trail Connecting: Easy graded dirt road, some washouts and mild rocky climbs.
  • Hole-in-the-Rock Connecting trail: Easy graded dirt road turns into moderate slick rock with steep descents and ascents and one steep, off-camber obstacle with a sharp turn.
  • Hole in the Rock Trail: Moderate to difficult


This is part of the emigrant trail from Escalante, to Bluff, UT that produced the Hole-in-the-Rock; a feature on the western wall of Glenn Canyon on Lake Powell. The Mormon’s Mission was to establish a settlement in Southeast Utah and form friendship with the Indians in the territory. The expedition had to chip a huge opening through a canyon wall so they could plunge 80 wagons down a rocky crevice to the Colorado River and then float them across. We did the easy northern half of the trail in August of 2009 [Escalante Trails Recon Mission], and we hiked down the Hole-in-the-Rock. This write-up covers the more difficult section of the emigrant trail east of their [then] Colorado River crossing.


Trail Conditions – October 2011


Lake Canyon Trail – The original Mormon settler’s trail no longer goes through. Several years ago there was a washout in Lake Canyon which makes it impassible. In photographs it may appear to be bi-passable on nearby slick rock, but there are no bi-passes, and there is range-fencing which prevents even exploring for one.


Washout in Lake Canyon:



(Image courtesy of Maddogjeeper)


The washout is worth driving to; the trail is scenic and fun. It starts out on graded road next to Cal Black Airport goes past a fortress ruin (we took a quick side trip into canyon on the right, which narrows to an ATV track). The trail crosses a fun technical section of steep ascents and descents on slick rock, then down into Lake Canyon. We stopped at Graffiti Camp and walked the last ¼ mile to the washout. There are great campsites at Graffiti Camp and just below the Fortress Ruins on east fork.


Following your tracks back to the fork located at point B on Day One Tracks, go hard right to get on the Nokai Dome shortcut, to continue to the Hole-in-the-Rock.


Shortcut to Nokai Dome Road – This is a slightly lesser trail across high ground, through several ravines. Pass an old pickup cab on the left. Nokai Dome Road is at the intersection where the Half-Track is located; turn right to go to the Hole-in-the-Rock.


Nokai Dome Road: Easy graded dirt road. We passed several fresh washouts when we were there just after a hard rain, one so bad off-roaders ahead of us created a go-around. There is a very good campsite for up to about 6 rigs on the left (on the way in) after the trail begins to climb, before you reach the connecting trail. If you continue straight past the intersection connecting trail intersection, Nokai Dome Road ends at Nokai Dome and a scenic view of Lake Powell and Navajo Mountain. We turned right on the Hole-in-the-Rock Connection Trail, we didn’t go to Nokai Dome.


Hole-in-the-Rock Connection Trail & Nokai Dome Road Intersection:




Hole-in-the-Rock Connecting trail: The trail is well established and easy to follow; it crosses numerous ravines and slick rock outcroppings. There are a few rocky climbs where 4 low makes it easier on the vehicle, but nothing too technical until you reach slick rock. Campsites for more than one or two rigs are sparse, there are only a few. Pay attention to waypoints marking forks in road; you’ll begin driving on slick rock right after the 1st ‘Stay Right’ on the Day 2 Tracks.


The trail becomes technical and route finding is difficult on the slick rock portion. There is one very steep and off-camber descent as you start down from the top. Careful tire placement is essential, may need a spotter. Watch for cairns which mark the trail.[/font]


Steep off camber ledge near the top:




You will come to a well-marked intersection with the Hole-in-the-Rock Trail. A right turn leads to Lake Canyon; go that way to view the washout from the other side. We don’t know how far it is as we didn’t go there on this trip.


Hole in the Rock Trail (Lake Canyon turn-off to end of trail): This last section of trail is challenging and sometimes dangerous, even for experienced off-roaders in modified vehicles. We recommend a vehicle with high-clearance, good articulation, aggressive tread tires, and at least one locking differential. Low gears, and if you have a standard transmission, a 4:1 transfer case, is very helpful. We suggest that trailers not be taken over this section. A good spotter is recommended no matter what. Remember: everything you encounter on the way in will be there on the way out in reverse!


From the intersection of the connector trail with Hole-in-the-Rock Trail, stay left to go to the Hole-in-the-Rock. You will descend from slick rock through a portion of difficult route-finding and then onto a well marked dirt trail that goes alongside a low rocky ridge for several miles. There are a number of great campsites along the way. You will encounter several technical rocky sections as the trail drops into a narrow canyon and you approach Grey Mesa. There is an historical marker where the Mormon expedition made they’re way off of Grey Mesa; the hike up this track and a look around is worthwhile.


Historic Marker where Mormons Descended Grey Mesa




Where the trail begins to climb Grey Mesa there are numerous steep, off camber, narrow ledges you must drive on. Careful tire placement is mandatory; a spotter is a good idea. Be especially careful where there is a washout toward the cliff side almost to the top of the 2nd section of rough trail.


Narrow Ledges Climb Grey Mesa:




On top of Grey Mesa the trail is a well maintained dirt road. The Great Bend of the San Juan River is visible on the left. You’ll pass an intersection with Rincon Road to the right.


Great Bend of San Juan River




(Image courtesy of theksmith)


Just as the trail begins its descent down from Grey Mesa you will come to a steep, off-camber ledge at the top of ‘The Chute’. ‘The Chute, though not difficult or dangerous, requires a steady foot on the brake while steering into the groove to stay level on the way down. Watch out for a huge tire-swallowing hole, driver’s side at the bottom of The Chute, just as you start up the other side. Remember to watch for it on the way back!


Ledge at top of The Chute The Chute





Hole at the bottom of The Chute, barely visible on the way back




The remainder of the trail to the Hole-in-the-Rock goes up and down slick rock, sometimes on narrow fins where wagon tracks are visible. There are many extremely steep climbs and drops. Everyone in our party used lockers on one particularly steep ascent. Trail finding may be difficult, watch for cairns.


This narrow fin is the trail




The climb where we all used lockers




A very steep descent on the way in means a very steep ascent on the way out




There are very few campsites past The Chute; Cheese Camp will accommodate a large group, Cottonwood Canyon Camp at the end of the trail can comfortably hold 4 or 5 rigs.


Cottonwood Canyon Camp




From the Cottonwood Canyon Camp there is a hiking trail that follows the Mormon's Wagon Trail about 3 miles to the lake.


Hiking trail to lake




Excellent pictures and trail report Click Here.



Spot Adventures Day 3 (End of the Hole-in-the-Rock Trail to Hwy 276 & Nokai Dome Road Direct Route)

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excellent informational post D!



i'll second that the original "old" trail washout is worth the extra time to see, and that overall this is just a spectacular trail full or scenery, challenge, and history!

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excellent informational post D!



i'll second that the original "old" trail washout is worth the extra time to see, and that overall this is just a spectacular trail full or scenery, challenge, and history!

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Damn transmission! Good write up D!

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Damn transmission! Good write up D!

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GREAT post D... Sounds like a trip worth taking...;)

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GREAT post D... Sounds like a trip worth taking...;)

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We ran the Hole-in-the-Rock trail again this weekend (Oct. 2015), and I updated the first post of this thread to new prices for camping at Hall's Crossing and for the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area permit.


I learned a few things this trip, this is what I would have done differently:

    The trail is a lot longer than I had remembered. It would have been better to camp somewhere on Nokai Dome road or the Connection trail (there's a great spot at the intersection of the two) on the way in rather than at Halls, because we ended up 'night-wheeling' on some pretty technical terrain trying to find a place to camp after going down the chute.
  • There's really no place for a group to camp past Gray Mesa until you're almost to the end of the trail, and there are really only 2 really good camping spots.
  • It's better to get to the end of the trail in the late afternoon or evening because the Hole-in-the-Rock is practically invisible in full sunlight.
  • Plan on 2 days in and 2 days out just to be on the conservative side, you might do it faster, but maybe not depending on the size of your group.

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