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Dicks Canyon – Red Reef

Dicks Canyon is an interesting canyon in the Red Reef between the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve and Leeds, Utah.

The lower section of the canyon, below a high drop, is reached either by hiking 1 mile along the Red Cliffs from the Red Cliffs Recreational Campsite or by ATV from Leeds crossing the White Reef and travelling roads and washes to an area near the canyon.

The upper section of Dicks Canyon and wash is more difficult to reach. There are a number of possible routes. You can get to this area off the Dixie National Forest Road north of Silver Reef or by one several routes from Quail Creek above the Moki steps north of the Red Cliffs Campground.

Access to the lower section of Dicks Canyon

If travelling north-east on Interstate I15, take exit 16 towards Hurricane and then turn left at 5300W towards Quail Creek State Park and Reservoir. This road ends at the service road near Harrisburg. Turn right and then turn left on the marked Red Cliffs Desert Reserve Road which goes west under the interstate highway.

If travelling south-west on Interstate I15 take exit 23 into Leeds and turn left onto N Main Street. Continue through Leeds to a stop sign at the I15 exit. Veer left taking the service road to the marked Red Cliffs Desert Reserve Road and turn right going west under the interstate.

Drive into the Red Cliffs Campground, cross the creek, and park at campsite 8 from where the East Red Reef trail leaves. Follow this trail along the base of the red cliffs for about 1 mile to Dicks Canyon. After a short distance from the campground the trail follows the major wash coming from Dicks Canyon.

An alternate route to the Canyon is by heading south west from Leeds by ATV through a series of small roads and trails to the base of the red Reef just north of Dicks Canyon. From there the canyon is reached by climbing over a small hill where a small wash leads down into the wash from Dicks Canyon.

Directions to Red Cliffs

Directions from Harrisburg to the Red Cliffs Campground

Location where we parked the ATV

Trail Rating – Lower Section

Overall rating = difficult

Distance: About 2 miles total – easy
Elevation gain: <200 feet - easy
Terrain: sandy wash and rocky terrain - difficult
Exposure: A difficult and dangerous vertical chimney climb to reach the bottom - difficult

To see the trail rating system used here see Trail Rating System

The Trail – Lower Section

The main Canyon is reached by travelling along a major wash leading into the Red Reef. Part way into the Reef there is a secondary canyon leading north towards Leeds. Both the main Dicks Canyon and the side canyon end in high wall.

The lower section of Dicks Canyon ends in a 100 foot sheer rock wall. To reach this point there are 2 fairly high dryfalls to navigate over. The first dryfall is 17 feet high and has to be scaled by vertical chimney climbing to below the lip and then working over the lip. This is a difficult and dangerous climb.

Sheer Wall at top of Dicks canyon


There is a second less difficult dryfall about 15 feet high which slopes slightly towards the high rock wall. This can be scaled with the use of a rope. We managed to throw a rope attached to a piece of driftwood over the top where it wedged into a crevice. This rope had to be left on the way back down.

On the return back down Dicks canyon there is another unnamed canyon branching off to the left. This unnamed side canyon has a high sheer wall running all along the west side. It also has a 15 foot sheer dryfall in the wash which is difficult to get over if travelling up from below. Near the junction of the two canyons we scaled up the left side of Dicks Canyon and around the cliff to a place well above the side canyon. We travelled along the base of the sheer wall of the side canyon and then dropped down to the wash at the base of the side canyon. This entry point was just above the 15 foot dryfall.

This is a difficult route as there are a lot of loose rocks on the way up and back down. From the head of this side canyon we climbed over a hill on the east side and along a ridge and back to where our ATV was parked.

For a one page printout of the directions click Directions to Dicks Canyon – Red Reef

Here are some of the pictures taken in the lower section of Dicks Canyon.

Access to the upper section of Dicks Canyon

There are several routes to reach this area, all of which are fairly difficult.

1. Take the Leeds Trail (see posting) in the Dixie National Forest and then follow the less well travelled section of this trail to an unnamed wash heading south up a ridge above Dicks. Travel down the Dicks wash to the high drop.

Distances are about 3 miles to the ridge and a further 1 mile to the drop for a total round trip distance of 8 miles and a total elevation gain in and out of 1800 feet. Going down Dicks there is at least one drop that has to be rappeled down and climbed back up if returning the same way you came in.

Route 1 to Upper Section of Dicks Canyon from Forest Road 032

Route 1 to the top of Dicks Canyon high drop


2. Take the Red Reef Trail from the Red Cliffs Campground (see Red Reef Trail to the Moki Steps) and climb the Moki steps. About 200 feet along this canyon before you get to the Water Canyon on the right there is a trail that takes you above the Moki steps. From there head north up through the slot in the hill to the ridge above. This is a strenuous climb of about 0.18 mile and 400 feet elevation gain.

From the ridge descend into an unnamed wash below. This wash heads south and drops into Quail Creek about 0.16 miles to the right. Turn left and follow this wash about 0.55 miles north to its head.

At the head of this wash climb the ridge to the north which overlooks Dicks Canyon and wash. This is a difficult and steep ascent of 400 feet vertical. It took us 5 hours to get to this ridge above Dicks and due to time and lack of water we returned back down this ridge and down the unnamed wash and over the drop into Quail Creek between the two waterfalls.

To access the canyon above the drop you would climb down the steep slope and explore this area and the wash above, returning back up the ridge and down the unnamed wash and out to Quail Creek. This would add another 3 or 4 hours to the trip. This could be done in 2 days by camping in a flat sandy area at the head of the unnamed wash.

Two Possible Routes to Dicks Canyon - Upper Section

Trail From the Moki Steps to Dicks Canyon

Trail Rating – Upper Section

Overall rating = difficult

Distance: Route 1: 8 miles, route 2: about 6 miles total – moderate to difficult
Elevation gain: Route 1: 1800 feet, route 2: about 1400 feet – difficult
Terrain: rocky mountain climbs – difficult
Exposure: steep climbs and a vertical climb – difficult

To see the trail rating system used here see Trail Rating System

For a one page printout of the directions click Directions to Dicks Canyon from the Moki Steps

Here are some pictures we took along this route.