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Canyons of the Ancients
'P' Road Access Hikes
Burro Canyon & Slot BETA

IBurro Canyon Slot Entrance
(The entrance to the Burro Canyon Slot from the end of the access route.)

This is another Beta hiking route I've discovered in the Four Corners area, this one in the Clinton era Canyon of the Ancients National Monument. Recreational use in this area is, unfortunately, sensitive due both archaeological protection and divisive conflicts with private land in-holders.

I've personally never had any problems in the area, save for the misleading maps that exclude fuly legal roads while also asserting that anything **not** on the map is not legal. I've been informed by the folks at nearby Hovenweep that this is not the case, the only illegal roads are now marked as such. This does make sense, if you think about it, and the area is also lightly patrolled. This hike is completely legal and does not cross private property, but can be used to access the middle reaches of Yellow Jacket Creek and the bottom of Sandstone Creek. As always, be respectful of both private property and any ruins you might discover - and, hopefully, we can help to build a great recreational future for this unique area, best for a Fall-Spring hikes.

Burro Canyon Navajo Sandstone

(Burro Canyon has some very sensual formations, the pink color, common in the area, helps.)

Burro Canyon has the only slot/narrows type section that I've found in a moderate amount of exploring in both the Canyon of the Ancients and Montezuma Canyon areas. There is no trail access, but the off-trail route down requires hands in only one spot, and is similar in difficulty to a typical, easy, off-trail canyon hike in Southern Utah.

I have no map for this Beta description, but the route is easy to find, all the more so for experienced hikers. It begins off of County Road 'N' just north of McElmo canyon accessed via County Road 'P' just north of Cortez. The Hike begins on the ATV track '4526a', marked, but not identified on the BLM map. The route is currently marked, but that might not remain.

Descend 4526a to a complex of several drilling pads staying to the NW/Downstream side of the complex with a ridge forming above a gully at the last, inactive, pad. Marking should be better from here down, crossing the gully to the NW about 2/3 of the way down. You'll reach the canyon bottom just above the slot/narrows section.


(Cottonwoods in the bottom of Burro Canyon)

There is no trail downstream at this point, but by following the smooth creek bed 150 yards the beginnings of an on again, off again, cattle trail can be found - getting better the farther you go - and always staying on the North side. It does climb in and out of the stream gully a few times, including at the above Cottonwoods.


(Formation at the confluence of Burro and Yellow Jacket canyons)

I don't have an accurate mileage log, but to reach the confluence with Yellow Jacket creek should be doable in a solid half-day. If you have the desire to go farther upstream, you'll need to wade the creek. I went as far as an interesting petroglyph wall (fenced) just up from the bottom of Sandstone, on one of my two ventures into this canyon. This is more of a full day hike. With a shuttle you could likely exit via upper Yellow Jacket or Sandstone Canyon, but I've not done either of these routes in their entirety. Roughly, once you cross the creek, you are on private land that is **not** at this time, posted. As I recall most of Sandstone is public, but Yellow Jacket itself is a mix of public and private all the way up.


(Looking upstream from the Yellow Jacket/Burro Confluence)

One last thought, though I don't know all the details, Burro would be a candidate for considering closure to cattle use - to allow restoration of some of the canyon bottom riparian habitat.


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