There are relatively few canyons on the west side of the San Rafael Swell, where the land slopes more gently and does not form the dramatic reef that characterizes the eastern edge. Devil’s Canyon is one of those few, and one of the most striking. The canyon is a long drainage that starts just beneath the highest point in the Swell, San Rafael Knob, and has eroded deep into layers of sandstone. This canyon is a rugged, sinuous gorge with numerous short tributary canyons that drain westward toward Muddy Creek. Pour offs and abrupt changes in the gradient of the canyon floor are frequent. The north-eastern part of the wilderness is a densely vegetated area of rounded knobs and benches. The southwestern portion is a sparsely vegetated area of pink, red, cream, and purple soils.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Devil's Canyon Wilderness.
Access is from exit 116 of I-70. The Devil’s Canyon Wilderness is reached by the less-used road heading south from the interstate exit. Gravel at first, this road soon descends onto a plateau (Justensen Flats) and becomes a dirt track. It passes a sign with information about the Devil’s Canyon area. Park near the sign, walk south along a disused track for half-a-mile then veer west following close to the base of the nearby cliffs, past the heads of some small side ravines and drop into the streambed at one of several points where access is easy.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.