Rock Canyon

Rock Canyon is one of the most visited canyons along the Wasatch front mainly due to its close proximity to BYU. It is a climbing mecca for many and a great recreational area. Few know of the beautiful caves that are found there (two of them gated) or of the rich history within its walls. In 1850 a group of Utes, under the direction of Big Elk, fled to Rock Canyon following a battle with the Mormon Militia. Squaw Peak is named after Big Elk's squaw who died in the canyon following the battle. As the settlers explored the canyon they discovered a wealth of minerals and have left behind a number of shafts and tunnels to be explored.

Looking at the Canyon from Squaw Peak overlook.
At the base of the left peak is Bad Banana's, a locally famous climbing route.

Spanish Moss Cave
Spanish Moss has a good vertical drop at the entrance and requires a 200 foot rope as well as a key from the Timp. grotto.

Red Barron Cave
After a 2 hour hike of mostly scrambling, access to this cave is gained by a short rappel off a 200' cliff.

This is the only pictograph I have been able to locate in the Canyon although I have heard reports on one other.

Mouse Trap Cave
Map courtesy of Brandon Kowallis
Mouse Trap is one of those caves that you do once just to say that you have done it and never come back again. It is very jagged, tight, and uncomfortable throughout the majority of the cave. It is 91 feet long and extends down about 56 feet until it gets too tight to continue on.
Looking down the jagged hole.
The walls are covered with little popcorn formations.
As well as some flowstone. Not a very beautiful cave, but a fun one to explore none the less.
If I were a miner this is exactly what I would be looking for. Quarts wrapped in mercury. A great gold generating combination.

Roadside Cave

This is a natural cave located right on the trail about midway up the canyon. It is caved in about 15 feet down in, but I would like to open it up and see where it goes.

Jolly Roger
Jolly Roger is a small Rock Canyon cave that is about 40' deep. There are two chutes that are both filled with dirt and would require a lot of digging to continue downward. It appears that rainwater continually brings debris in. This cave has good potential of continuing if you are ready to work. Apparently there was a skull and crossbones drawn on the wall when it was discoverd, thus the name Jolly Roger.

Woody's Hole
Woody's Hole is a very small Rock Canyon cave. It is only 20' deep or so and has tons of cave crickets and a really big ugly spider living inside. I believe it is named after Woody Carrol who first explored it in the mid 1970's. Rodney Horrocks did a paleontological excavation with Chris Laycock there several years ago, and the bones from that dig are in the BYU Earth Science Museum collections.

Gollum's Cave
While this cave is not directly in Rock Canyon it is close enough to put in this location. This cave has an interesting treasure story associated with it. You can read the story here This was one of my favorites caves until it was cemented shut from this tragic incident a few years ago.

Deseret Morning News
The bodies of four hikers trapped in a small cave, just south of the "Y" on Y Mountain, were found Thursday morning after rescue crews pumped out enough icy water to safely enter the cave and search.Three of the bodies were found around 10:45 a.m. in the second of two caves, according to Karen Mayne, public information officer for the Provo Police Department.The first body, that of a 19-year-old woman, was found almost an hour earlier. She had been trapped in a small underwater tunnel leading to the second cave.The four hikers ranged in age from 19 to 28. The identities of the victims are being held, pending notification of next of kin.Rescuers were unsure whether the hikers died form drowning or lack of oxygen. A medical examiner was on scene all morning and was investigating.A group of five hikers started out early Thursday morning, entering the cave around 4:30 a.m., Mayne said. All but one of the hikers entered, one at a time, through a narrow tunnel and came into a larger opening. From that opening the hikers had to go under water through a small narrow tunnel to get to the second cave.Rescue crews had to force oxygen into the second cave, and pump water out of it, before they could enter.Steve Hundley, the hiker who remained outside the cave, first notified police around 6:30 a.m. when his friends did not return.Hundley, age 20, of Provo, said he would also have entered the cave but didn't because he had to work. He said he had been in the cave a few times before and said the water was extremely cold

This is the entrance before it was closed off.
Just inside the entrance is a crystal clear pool of spring water, only a foot or so deep.
This is the hole int the floor that leads to the underwater passage. After 15 minutes of "no you go first" one of us finally lowered ourselves down in and made our way to the submerged room.
Emerging from the submerged water tunnel.
The back room appears to be a natural cave, although the tunnel to it is definitely cut.

Misc. Mines

One of the many mine tunnels to be explored.
Be careful if you enter any of these old mines. There are several drops and chute offs that can be dangerous.


Derran said...

While searching for Rock Canyon and petroglyphs search terms, I found this blog. I'm not sure how often folks see this blog, but I thought I would post my two-cents worth. Back in the mid 1970's I found a large rock wall full of petroglyphs just off the main trail going up the canyon. It measured about 6 feet tall and probably 10 feet wide. For a long time I’ve wanted to go back up the canyon and find those drawings and take some pictures, but now that I live in Texas, it might never happen.
How I found these drawings is kind of unusual, but makes sense. Have you ever noticed how dry rock will change to a darker color when it comes in contact with water? Well this is exactly how I found the drawings. I walked off the trail about 20 feet and then climbed up a small rock slide, where I could have some privacy behind a large rock. While behind the rock, I relieved myself post hence and while looking down, I saw the drawings literally jump out of the rock as they became wet! After I was done doing my thing, I went back down to the trail and told my buddy. That’s when we decided to retrieve some water from the creek and soak the rock face, it was covered in drawings! These drawings are so well camouflaged that none will find them, unless they do what I did!

Sue said...

Derran .. was the rock picture panel off of the left or right side of the trail & how far in from the beginning of the trail was it? love to know thanks Sue

JI said...

Hey derran,
My friend and i found a cave hiking between rock canyon park and squaw peak. It doesn't seem to be on this list. It has a hallway going in about 20 feet and a huge hole in the ground. Past the hole the hallway continues. If you have any information I would greatly appreciate your insight.
Thank you

JI said...

Sorry my comment was addressed to Spencer not derran

Spencer Coles said...

There are many more caves in this canyon that are not on the blog yet. It sounds like a mine that you went in though. Send me some more info and we can compare notes to see if it is a mine or cave. Email me:

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