Overview: Devil’s Canyon, located just to the west of the San Rafael Swell, is a favorite among off-roaders. Featuring stunning, stratified canyon cliffs and rugged, technical terrain, it does not take a newcomer long to see why this area is popular. For the explorer who is looking to lengthen the experience and get off of the beaten track, BLM Route SS5023 is an excellent choice. Extending past the more well-known portions of Devil’s Canyon, this route offers the same off-road features with the added benefit of a remote experience. If you are out exploring Devil’s Canyon, this is a route that you will not want to miss.
Getting There: Devil’s Canyon can be accessed from I-70 from the Lone Pine Exit. If you are approaching from the freeway, we recommend following the Willow Spring’s Wash trail south toward BLM Route SS5013. BLM Route SS5013 continues from Willow Spring’s Wash for just over a mile before reaching BLM Route SS5022 at the mouth of Devil’s Canyon.
If you are already in the area and exploring the trails located to the south, there are several other route options that will lead you to the mouth of the canyon. Take time to familiarize yourself with the map and coordinates and plan a route that best fits you and your group. Be sure to not head off into the wilderness alone and tell someone where you are going before starting your trip.
BLM Route SS5023 can be found by following the trail through the natural course of the canyon. As Devil’s Canyon curves up to the north-east, the trail cuts through a SITLA land parcel before continuing and becoming BLM Route SS5023. The trail through the SITLA land parcel is open and authorized for motorized use. Many would-be visitors may miss BLM Route SS5023 because the trail–as shown on on BLM maps–does not appear between BLM Route SS5022 and BLM Route SS5023. This is not because it is not an authorized trail but because this segment is managed by a different public lands agency.
On the ground, all three routes appear as one continuous trail. As the trail begins to turn from the north-east to the east, start checking your map and GPS coordinates. The motorized trail ends before Devil’s Canyon Wilderness, but the entrance into the WSA is not well marked on the ground. Be sure to educate your group and park your vehicles before continuing on foot if you choose to visit Devil’s Canyon Wilderness. We recommend using a well-equipped mapping app for navigation in this area.
View Full BLM Scoping Map for the San Rafael Swell here: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=7ab9ab7390ae4a3b8131990680a8776f&extent=-12394149.4564%2C4653898.2205%2C-12265811.6859%2C4720857.0573%2C102100
Route Conditions: BLM Routes SS5022 and SS5023 are characterized by rough, technical terrain. We recommend using a very well equipped, high clearance 4WD or AWD vehicle for access to this area.
As always, follow LEAVE NO TRACE practices and leave the area as pristine as you found it. Careless recreation leads to ecological damage, road closures, and loss of access to important resources. It is important that motorized users stay on the trail.
Once you have reached the entrance to the WSA, you can continue on foot to explore Devil’s Canyon Spring (featured in the above image). This area features several old corrals and dramatic cliff walls. The spring itself is a fascinating Oasis with running water in the middle of a rugged and barren slot canyon.
Please be respectful and leave everything as you find it. Vandalism and other acts of destruction often result in remote finds like this becoming closed or restricted to the public. Keep this area open by respectfully and responsibly viewing the site and educating your party about responsible use.
This route report is part of a larger guidebook BRC is completing to educate users about high-value motorized trails that are at risk of closure if we don’t use them. This guidebook will be called the Lost Trails Guidebook, and has been funded by a generous grant from the Yamaha Outdoor Access Initiative with Jorgensen Powersports as a sponsoring dealer.