Reflection Canyon had been on my bucket list (as well as my friend’s) ever since seeing photos of it and reviewing it on Google. I have visited Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell area several times but never Reflection Canyon, so I knew southwest Utah was beautiful. I also wanted to visit this spot sooner than later because of the receding water.
Reflection Canyon is located in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and you have to drive down the historic Hole-in-the-Rock Road in Escalante to arrive at the Reflection Canyon trailhead. The hiking trail to Reflection Canyon is a 16-mile return trip out and back with 1565 feet of elevation gain.
We are relatively quick hikers and so it took us about two and a half hours – we set up camp and spent the night and hiked back the next morning. We didn’t start hiking until 3pm. The idea was to avoid the midday heat but still get there in plenty of time to set up camp before sunset.
Hiking in Sandstone and Rugged Terrain
The trail is exposed and you hike up and down sandstone and across rugged terrain and slick rock. There were also a few narrow, dry washes to cross. Honestly, the trailhead arrival and hike were pretty underwhelming but once we came upon Reflection Canyon I was blown away – especially being there for sunset and then waking up in our tent for sunrise! I think backpacking in and camping is the best way to fully experience this area.
Getting to adventure to Reflection Canyon with my husband, dogs and friends was the best part of the trip. The jokes we made along the trail were hilarious and the views we saw were just the icing on the cake!
Where to Stay when Hiking Reflection Canyon
We made the drive from Denver, Colorado so we actually stayed in Green River, Utah on our first night, then at Reflection Canyon and then we stayed in Grand Junction, Colorado on the way home. If you are looking for some accommodation you can head to Torrey, Utah but it all depends on where you are coming from and where you want to return back to.
Tips for Visiting Reflection Canyon
- A permit isn’t required to hike to Reflection Canyon, yet. You do have to check in/register and you can get additional information regarding the road conditions and weather at Escalante Interagency Visitor Center.
- Do your own research and be very well prepared. There is no cell service anywhere along the route, so just keep that in mind before going.
- I would recommend having GPS or a downloaded map as there isn’t an actual maintained trail to the endpoint. It requires a lot of route finding.
- The Hole-in-the-Rock Road is no joke. Have an all-wheel drive and high clearance. Give yourself at least two hours each way down the road.
- I don’t recommend hiking to Reflection Canyon in the summer months as there is no shade and the trail is exposed the whole way with no water available. The chances of flash floods or monsoons is also something to be aware of. These could make the road impassable. The desert can be harsh with quickly changing weather conditions.
- Each person should carry four or five liters of water per day (plus food).
- The trail is listed as dog-friendly but I wouldn’t say it’s dog-friendly. Our dogs were wiped! I wouldn’t have wanted them to do this round trip hike all in one day. Don’t forget to bring lots of water for them too!
- Please adventure responsibly – pack out what you pack in.