Hell Roaring Canyon lies about 5 miles north of the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park. Itís one of 4 canyons in this area that drain into the Green River from the east and it hosts a number of interesting climbing objectives in its 12ish mile length. The region is administered by the BLM and is currently under threat of development by the oil and gas industry.
This canyon has a long history as evidenced by the Barrior Canyon Style pictographs in its upper reaches and the 1836 inscription near the mouth of the canyon by French-Canadian trapper D. Julian. The first climbers to explore this area were Ron Olevsky and Dave Monduea who made several trips into the canyon in Ď84 that ended for reasons ranging from weather to rockfall. On Halloween, Ron returned alone and soloed a 4-pitch line on The Witch calling it Midnight Rider. The next year, Ron and Dave returned with Dale Kruse and climbed The Warlock, which is likely the most impressive tower in the canyon. Other towers in the canyon that are of interest to climbers include The Cauldrons, Corner Tower, and the Kachina Spires.
The rock here is wingate and although the towers have been climbed, the potential for new routes along the canyon rim is extensive. Despite this and the fact that Hell Roaring Canyon has been listed in at least 4 guidebooks, you are likely to have the place to yourself if you choose to climb here. Come prepared for an adventure.
There are three approaches to Hell Roaring Canyon. All approaches begin from HW 313.
Mineral Bottom Approach- (for Corner Tower or routes near the mouth of the canyon) From HW 313 turn west onto Mineral Bottom Road which, after a dozen miles on dirt, drops you down to the Green River via the Horsethief Trail switchbacks. (Itís the same approach as for Moses to this point.) Turn right at the bottom and follow an old mining road upstream past the mouth of Mineral Canyon and for several more miles to the mouth of Hell Roaring Canyon. It is possible to drive up Hell Roaring Canyon for a couple miles but a landslide blocks further vehicular traffic. Note: The road along the Green River is often impassable. A high clearance 4x4 is required for this approach.
Rim Rappel Approach (for The Witch, Warlock, Cauldrons, or routes in the middle section of the canyon) From HW 313, turn right on Mineral Point Rd. (This is the road with the Horsethief Campground. It is 1/4 mile before the Mineral Bottom Rd. if youíre driving toward the Park on 313. You will know youíre on the right road because the 60-site campground will be on your left just after you leave HW313) From here the approach requires some attention if itís your first time. Mark you mileage when you turn onto Mineral Point Rd. At about 3.8 miles you want to stay left on the better road. This takes you past a bluff on your right. About 3.2 miles later (or 7 miles from HW313) you pass a small tower at the end of the bluff with a wide crack splitting it. From the tower, backup 50 meters and look for a rough road going left and then continue across the desert . You will come to a second bluff on your right after about 1.3 miles. Take a right here (road gets rougher) around the end of the second bluff and drive straight at the rim and the towers. The road ends at a campsite. A 4x4 is recommended for this approach though you could probably get a Subaru out there if you were motivated. The rim is a short walk from camp. To find the rappel anchors, hike to the rim and scramble down the first tier to a point where the towers extend away from you in a row. Look to your left for an obvious gash (cairn) that takes you down one more level. From here scramble down and left past a small tree to a small alcove containing two bolts with chains. Use caution.
Spring Canyon Bottom Road Approach Ė (for The Kachina Spires or climbs in the upper section of the canyon) If driving toward the Park on HW313, turn right on Spring Canyon Bottom Rd. (this is a dirt road) 8.2 miles from the junction of HW313 and HW191. You will pass a BLM Kiosk and parking viewpoint on the left just before you reach this road. Follow this road for approximately 1 mile and then go straight/left at the Dunbinky Well Road junction. Continue along Spring Canyon Bottom Rd for a few miles until you cross a cattle guard. Immediately after the cattle guard there is a small dirt road that veers off to the left and goes for 200 meters to the rim of Hell Roaring Canyon. The Kachina Spires are obvious from the rim.
This route follows the obvious crack system on the sw side of the tower and finishes in the notch between the twin summits.The climbing is engaging and stays on solid rock for the most part. The two belays are bolted.Pitch One - Follow a right facing corner system past a big ledge and through a fun stem-box. Continue to the base of a low-angle v-slot below a large roof. 5.10Pitch Two - Follow the crack out and over the roof and continue to the notch passing some loose rock near the top. 5.10...[more]Browse More Classics in UT
Addition to rim rappel approach: after second bluff there is another r turn that is signed with a HR jeep route sign. Do not take this right turn, instead continue straight (through a wash) to the fire-ring. Road is a little faint at this point. Hike to the north about 1/4 mile to find the rim.
Rim Rappel appoach mileages. Reset odometer at the junction of 191 and 313:
Lone Mesa Campground signed turnoff on right (go straight) - 8.1 miles. Horse Theif Campground signed turnoff, go right (Mineral Point Road) - 11.4 miles. Junction, mining road on left, go right - 14.0 miles. Turnoff on right, go straight on better road - 15.1 miles. Mining road on left, go straight - 15.8 miles. Take the rough road on the left, just before the end of the bluff on the right - 18.2 miles. Go right at the second bluff - 19.5 miles. Junction, HRR sign on the right, go left - 19.9 miles. The best camping spot and approach point for the climbs in this area is on some nice slick rock just left of the road, in a slight depression, 20.2 miles. End of the road, 20.3 miles.
Spring Canyon Bottom Road approach mileages. Reset odometer at the junction of 191 and 313:
Lone Mesa Campground signed turnoff on right (go straight) - 8.1 miles. On Google Maps, this turnoff is indicated as Mineral Bottom Road. In the directions above, this turnoff is indicated as Spring Bottom Road. The signed turnoff does not reflect either road name, but instead is noted as Lone Mesa Campround.
Drive through the campground. Go left on Spring Bottom Road at the signed junction - 9.6 miles.
Go left just after the first cattleguard - 11.7 miles.
Obvious nice camping spot at the end of the road.
Hell Roaring Canyon - a great place to find off the beaten path towers.