Tom’s Experience canyoneering through the Red Cave:
The Red Caves of Sand Wash is two different short slot canyons that are truly spectacular. They are a little difficult to get too but once there, they are gorgeous.
The canyons do not require a rope but they can still be very difficult to navigate. You can explore each canyon from the bottom to the top and then come back down or you can do a loop hike and combine the two.
The most common way to hike the loop is to hike up Lower Red Cave and then down the Upper. While they do not require ropes the canyons can still be challenging and are definitely not easy hikes but can be a great adventure.
The slot canyons are on public land but you do need to cross private property to get to them. If you would like to try to 4WD to the entrance of the slots written permission is required from Del Tait at 1-435-648-2522. If you plan on hiking permission is still recommended.
Remember to be respectful on his land and treat it as your own. Also make sure you do not park on private property.
Directions for the loop hike are as follows but I highly recommend taking a GPS with the coordinates or at least a topo map. Without one you could be stuck wandering around for a while while trying to find the locations for everything. The trail will pass through a farm and up onto a hill. You will see some 4WD tracks that lead up the hill.
Follow those tracks and stick to the right fork. Eventually you will start heading back down hill into Upper Sand Wash. At the wash you will head down the wash and around a bend then start heading back up the Lower Sand Wash. This will lead to the bottom of Lower Red Cave.
Enter here, but you wont be able to progress too far before coming to a dry fall. Head back out canyon and head to the left (looking down canyon) up the steep sand to the top of the canyon. You can enter back into the canyon after just a few minutes but it is steep to get back in.
Follow the canyon up passing a few easy obstacles and possibly a little water depending on the last time it rained. Near the end of the Lower Red Cave you will get out and start the cross country trek to the upper section of Upper Red Cave. There really wasn’t a trail to get from the Lower to the Upper. Head north and eventually you will reach Upper Red Cave. There is a small wash that you follow that will lead you to a 25 foot drop into Upper Red Cave. You could take a rope and rappel this section or you can head left out of the canyon for a little bit and there is an easier but still steep way to drop into the canyon.
Form here follow the canyon down to the mouth. Upper Red Cave had a few challenges and a lot more water than the Lower when we went. In fact one of the pot holes I was unable to feel the bottom of as we tried to swim/chimney through it.
As the canyon ends, follow the way back to the 4WD road you followed in and back to the car. Both canyons are excellent for photos, but a tripod is a must with the low lighting. We also saw a white owl in the Lower Red Cave high above us on the canyon walls. When I heard this was a nontechnical slot canyon I underestimated its difficulty. While we were able to do it without a rope or harnesses it was very difficult and I wish I would have brought a dry bag for some stuff. If it wasn’t for my father, who is an expert climber, I doubt my trip through these slot canyons would have been as pleasant as it was. Also, without a GPS I doubt we would have been able to find all of the points we needed to. Dogs are allowed but probably cannot make it through the canyons unless you carry them through most of it.
Trail Info: From Mt. Carmel junction, travel north on highway 89 to a dirt road called Tait Lane. Tait Lane will eventually pass over a small river and lead to a farm. Park your car somewhere near Tait Land but not on private property. From here cross the river and use the GPS waypoints to help you find the slot canyon entrances. There was a small fence that is easy to climb to the left of a locked gate on the private property. Remember to be respectful.
Tait Lane: 37.248683,-112.662903
Cross over the Fence: 37.247395,-112.657902
Drop Down into the Wash: 37.241077,-112.647595
Lower Red Cave Entrance: 37.225166,-112.647941
Lower Red Cave Exit: 37.220052,-112.635894
Upper Red Cave Entrance: 37.235311,-112.638708
Upper Red Cave Exit: 37.220053,-112.635893
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