Behind the Reef Road
ElevationAscent: 3,084' 940 m
Descent: -3,158' -962 m
High: 5,858' 1,786 m
Low: 4,998' 1,523 m
GradeAvg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 20% (11°)
Popular runs nearby
Little Wildhorse and Bells Canyon Loop
8.7 mi 13.9 km • Loop • 871 ft Ascent 265.62 m Ascent
Ding & Dang Loop
6.0 mi 9.7 km • Loop • 918 ft Ascent 279.8 m Ascent
The Chute of Muddy Creek Loop
15.1 mi 24.2 km • Loop • 1,226 ft Ascent 373.72 m Ascent
2.4 mi 3.9 km • Out and Back • 313 ft Ascent 95.31 m Ascent
3.2 mi 5.1 km • Out and Back • 734 ft Ascent 223.63 m Ascent
Capitol Gorge Trail
4.7 mi 7.5 km • Out and Back • 222 ft Ascent 67.65 m Ascent
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“A great run providing access to magnificent slot canyons.”— F Felix
Good shoes, and long pants and shirt you don't value highly are preferred for groveling in the slot canyons.
The San Rafael Swell can be OHV hell, so don't even think about coming here on a busy holiday weekend. Think mid-week, off-season.
The best reason to run here, however, is not for the running. It's for the access it provides to incredible slot canyons slicing through the San Rafael Reef.
The first canyons--down to and including Little Wild Horse and Bell--can more easily be accessed from the Goblin Valley side of the Reef.
So why not just drive out the Behind the Reef Road? Because while it is generally easy, there is a very difficult jeep section at Chute Canyon that prevents most vehicle access. This is a good place to park and start your run, saving several miles and a lot of time, versus beginning at the start of the route where it leaves the Temple Mountain Road.
So, this route is seemingly designed for slot canyon commuting! Run as far as you like and then run down one slot canyon, across the reef and up the next canyon, then retrace your route. Good canyons to pair are Crack/Chute, Little Wild Horse/Bell, and Ding/Dang.
Little Wildhorse/Bell are the busiest of all the canyons, the easiest to access, perhaps the most scenic, and completely non-technical: you can take your (active) grandparents through these.
If you intend to go further out the road than this, you may want to camp at the start, and you'll still have to seriously beat feet to have enough daylight to finish before dark. The canyons also get more technical the further you go: there are some keeper potholes in some of these further slots, so don't do anything tricky unless you really know what you are about--people have died here.
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Need to Know, Features, Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes
Land Manager: BLM Utah - Moab Field Office