Three Finger Canyon

The freeeeezing cold continues (low of negative 15!,) so it was pretty tough to convince ourselves to leave the house this morning.  We sucked it up in the afternoon for a quick trip to Three Finger Canyon.  Three Finger is located along the eastern edge of the San Rafael Reef, and it’s full of bizarre diagonal rock layers and loads of petroglyphs.

The approach is as cool as the canyon itself -- the San Rafael Reef is a wall of diagonal flatiron-shaped rocks in a cacophony of color and texture.  I see it every day on my drive to work, but it's always fun to get up close and explore the nooks and crannies.

San Rafael Reef just outside Three Finger Canyon


The petroglyphs are just inside the canyon, to your right, on blackened Navajo sandstone.  Some of the rock art is actually on the slope leading up to the overhang, so make sure you watch where you step!  Look for a small, deep alcove and some cool tafoni (that rock that erodes like swiss-cheese.)

three fingers!

tafoni erosion

We hiked further back into the canyon and found a bunch of crazy rocks.  There was a sketchy old mine digging into a vein of what looked like malachite and petrified wood.  Really pretty.

petrified wood with iron?

The road to Three Finger Canyon is passable for most high-clearance 2WD vehicles, but it's sort of funky to find.  Drive west along I-70 past the Hanksville exit and the San Rafael River.  Right after the river you pull off the side of interstate onto a little dirt road.  It's weird -- there's no exit or turning lane.  Drive through the underpass, and start driving south as you skirt the eastern edge of the San Rafael Reef.