The Scenic Beauty of Nine-Mile Canyon

Here you go: 😂

We heard that Nine-Mile canyon was worth the drive. It was roughly on the route from Dinosaur National Monument down to Huntington, so we decided to check out the canyon on our way south and west. It’s notable for the thousand-year-old petroglyphs and rock art left by the Fremont and Ute cultures.

The various guides for the area all assume that you are starting from the southwest near Huntington. We started from the northwest near Myton and promptly took a wrong turn on the unmarked roads. As the roads deteriorated from pavement to partially graded dirt, we started questioning our navigation and figured out we were heading the wrong way. We got a grand tour of the Monument Butte oil fields though, so all was not lost. A pump-jack every two hundred yards, water and natural gas piplines everywhere, and five bars of cell service – a feature found in oil fields, apparently. There are thousands of oil wells in this part of Utah, and there are plans to drill thousands more. No peak oil here.

We backtracked a bunch and found the right road. We didn’t see any signage, and on Google maps the north end of the road is not labeled ‘Nine-Mile’ mumble-something, which threw us off for a bit. (Google calls the northernmost part ‘9450 S’)

Back on the right road, we found ourselves descending down a steep canyon on narrow gravel switchbacks. Between the rough roads and switchbacks we could barely do 10mph in the stiff-sprung Transit van. In theory I can air-down the tires and smooth out the ride, but then I have to stop and air-up. Not knowing how long and how bad the road would be, I decided to keep bumping along at 10mph.

Nine-Mile Canyon Byway, northern end

The road eventually intersected the ‘real’ (paved, smooth) Nine-Mile Canyon Byway coming up from Wellington, which led to the part of the canyon where the artwork is found.

The scenery in the canyon reminds us of the Burr Trail in Escalate. But highlight of this canyon is the Fremont era petroglyphs and artwork rather than the canyon itself. If you want petroglyphs and pictographs the Nine-Mile is the place to be. If you want great canyon views, the Burr Trail is the one to drive.

Or drive them both. 🙂

Nine-Mile Canyon Byway
Fremont Petroglyph – ‘The Great Hunt’

By the way – the canyon isn’t nine miles long. It’s actually about 45 miles long, so figure a half of a day plus whatever hiking you want to do to get to the more remote artwork.

We have power and water where we are at now. Time to clean up, restock, and see what the Wedge Overlook is all about.






2 responses to “The Scenic Beauty of Nine-Mile Canyon”

  1. Ole Login

    Ah the bennies of a small unit! Your description says no way i could have turned my 39 foot trailer around! Take gooder notes i still want to do green river to dinosaur one of these times. On another note apple maps has some new features, would be interested in comparing google to apple now for tricky road features!


    1. The tourism folks here have what they call the Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway, a route including Price, Castle Dale, Green River, Moab, Grand Junction and Vernal. We’ve covered all but the leg from Grand Junction north to Rangely.

      We might do Green River to Price this trip. Not sure yet.

      There is a Colorado hwy 201 that goes north from Fruita and ends up in Jensen Utah. Looks like a long, rough road. 🙂

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