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Wilderness Volunteers

Dark Canyon Wilderness, Manti-La Sal National Forest (spring), UT (May 17th - May 23rd 2020)

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The Dark Canyon Wilderness is a unique forested pocket tucked into the heart of southeast Utah's wild canyon country. The Dark Canyon Wilderness, designated by Congress in 1984, is a spectacular and remote desert forest canyon wilderness covering over 47,000 acres. The greater area of the Dark Canyon complex is rich in biological, geological, archaeological, and historical significance, and is also one of the most colorful canyon systems on the Colorado Plateau. Dark Canyon begins on Elk Ridge at an elevation of 8,800 feet then cuts through Cedar Mesa sandstone formations dramatically framed amidst a forest of ponderosa pine on its 5,000-foot descent to the Colorado River. Dark Canyon was the ancestral home of Puebloan peoples for 5,000 years. They built cliff-dwellings and grain storage warehouses, made pottery in a variety of styles, created elaborate petroglyphs, fashioned tools from the mineral resources of the canyon, and planted the mesa tops with maize & squash. Remnants of the ancient community remain throughout the area as a reminder of the rich cultural history of the region.

Our work project will be a variety of trail maintenance objectives and tamarisk removal on one or more of the scenic hiking trails that wind through the Dark Canyon Wilderness. The exact location and trails will be determined in 2020 pending an assessment of viable water sources for the project week. We'll backpack up to 12 miles into the horse-shoe shaped Dark Canyon wilderness, set up camp for the week, and then hike to the work project each day. Enjoy a week giving back set amongst ~3,000 ft high red rock canyon walls. The Forest Service will provide pack support for the tools, commissary equipment, and group food.

On our free day we will explore the canyon and hike to Anasazi (Ancestral Puebloan) ruins, and on the way home there are other prehistoric sites and museums to visit.

This project is rated as a challenging project.

Check out more photos of last year's Dark Canyon project in our gallery.


May 17th - May 23rd 2020

Service Project

Trail maintenance and tamarisk removal

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Free Days

Hiking to scenic vistas, photography, explore rock art & ruins, wildlife viewing


Backpack camping with possible pack support

Project Difficulty

Challenging : Up to a 12-mile backpack on a steep trail, digging, bending, lifting, sawing. Pack animal supported.


Equipment List