Penitentiary Canyon

Location: San Rafael Swell
Rating: Canyon Hiking 1A II
Length: 5-7 hours
Longest Rappel: None
Start: 2.8 miles from Tomsich Butte
End:  Muddy Creek Tomsich Butte
Permits: None
Wet Suit: No
Shuttle: Yes

Overview: A little canyon that really is more of a nice hike than anything else. The canyon offers an arch near its end. This is a non-technical canyon with a wide open top. Bring plenty of water. Perhaps if you’re getting into canyoneering this would be a little more exciting than if you’ve done some much nicer canyons like Ding and Dang, Little Wild Horse, or others.


From Hwy 24 head west on the Temple Mountain. At the fork in the road take the left fork (Hidden Splendor Rd). After about 4 miles stay left as you will meet another road coming in from the right (Tan Seep). After about 1 mile stay left again as you will come to yet another fork in the road. Continue 10 miles across McKay Flat. The next intersection takes you to Tomsich Butte and Reds Canyon on the right. Turn Right (west) and drive 5 miles to the Tomsich Butte area. Turn left at the Red Canyon Loop intersection and drive between the two Buttes down to the flat near Muddy Creek. Continue left until you end where the road crosses Muddy Creek. Spot a car here. Drive a second car back 2.8 miles along the same path. Drop into the canyon on your right (south). Follow to Muddy Creek and find your spotted car.


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