Angels and the Dirty Devil

If there's going to be something dirty that involves a devil, then there ought to an angel to counterbalance the whole thing.

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In the central desert region of Utah you'll come across a section of canyons that have been carved by what is now known as the Dirty Devil River.   Rain and melting snows have slowly cut through the sandstone and left a topography that is so rough that even a horse has trouble negotiating most of the terrain.  Unless you know your way in and out of these canyons it is a place where you just might  find yourself in a dire situation.  It's the very reason that famous western outlaws like Butch Cassidy used the Dirty Devil River region to hide from the law.

Road to Angel Point. The Henry Mountains are visible in the distance.
Road to Angel Point. The Henry Mountains are visible in the distance.

A story is told about lawmen who came into this region looking for Cassidy and got lost in the canyons and found themselves without access to water and with no idea of how to exit the canyons.  It is said that Butch tracked these men's progress and, when he knew he had the upper hand, he negotiated water and information on how to get out of the canyons for a promise that they would never return.  The story goes that he also made the posse leader, a Green River sheriff remove his pants and ride the long trail back to town without his drawers!

A distant view of the Dirty Devil River.
A distant view of the Dirty Devil River.

The Dirty Devil River is normally shallow and silty and runs 80 miles from the confluence of the Fremont River and Muddy Creek, near Hanksville Utah, all the way to the Colorado River and what is now Lake Powell in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

A closer view of the Dirty Devil River from Angel Point (from west looking east).
A closer view of the Dirty Devil River from Angel Point (from west looking east).

This region is best explored in non summer months as the elevation of approximately 4,000 feet ensures that the Dirty Devil area is very hot during July and August.

Standing on the western rim of the Dirty Devil River basin.
Standing on the western rim of the Dirty Devil River basin.

One of the easiest ways to catch a glimpse of the Dirty Devil River is from Highway 95 south of Hanksville, Utah.  Well graded dirt roads lead into the west Angel Point overlook and trail access.

Where else can you so easily go from a devil to an angel?

View - Dirty Devil River access map.

Read about the Henry Mountains

Learn more about this region here - Capitol Reef Country.

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