Explore the best trails near Vernal with detailed reviews, photos, trail maps, and driving directions curated by hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
This was a great hike, although the location is pretty remote. Dirt road leading to location has several miles of heavy switchbacks at a 10% grade, but it is passable with a passenger car. On a Friday hike, we saw very few people north of Ely, but two large groups south of the falls. Fishermen came later in the day, but overall the trail was not crowded but there was some traffic.
We started at the fish hatchery, and our hike included the side trail to the petroglyphs and two visits to Ely Falls (aka Butt Dam Falls). The majority of the hike is shady, although south of Ely you will hit some wide open spots.
Jones Hole stream is from a spring, and is crystal clear. The stream is very scenic, and the cliffs rising on each side provide some good photo opportunities. We saw a variety of birds, small mammals, and a couple small snakes, but no sheep or bears.
The path to the petroglyphs is well-marked. The side trail goes along the cliff face only a few hundred feet from the main trail. There are several squiggles that a river guide passing by told his group were symbolic of fish nets, but there are some other more interesting glyphs as well. The glyph trail merges back into the main trail just north of the path to Ely Falls.
The sign to Ely Falls trail says it's half a mile, but I would guess that is for the round trip. It is a very short trail that brings you right underneath the falls. There are two tables just south of the trailhead for picnicers, or plenty of room at the top of the falls for a snack. The trail goes beyond the falls as well, but we turned back after a short walk down it so I'm not sure how far it goes.
I agree with Chuck (Gaines). My son and I mixed this trail with a leg from Sound of Silence and it was a real gem. Lots of wildlife and even a few no-shoulders lurking around. (Watch out!) If you're looking for a taste of the desert without wanting too much risk, this is the trail for you.
Madison K. on McConkie Ranch Petroglyph Trail
Super easy hike. Definitely not 4 miles. Leave the 5 dollar donation, borrow a walking stick and walk on up to the petroglyphs. It is a verrrry short hike. I'd imagine its doable by any and all. :)
Man. This is some fun stuff. The hike up is definitely moderate. Lots of loose rock/gravel and some steep edges. The trail is well marked. The petroglyphs are labeled and easy to see. Just panel after panel of work. Don't be a turd - leave the $5 donation.
My husband and I decided that "Doug" and "Greg" were the guys in charge of the tribe scratchings a few thousand years ago. Doug was really into swirly circles, and Greg preferred plain circles or circles around people's bellies. They both liked designing the jewelry, but had a major falling out when deciding how to depict the high-profile scene. Doug thought the bear needed scarier paws, but Greg was really into his "animal teeth" phase. Only one of them survived work that day. I'll let you decide who after you hike the trail.
^^^ none of that is historical fact, but we DID see a scary snake. So watch out for that.
We took this trip not really expecting much. We were so wrong. This place is pretty neat. You do have to actually hike/climb to see the Petroglyphs but the trails are short and worth it. One suggestion do not trust MapQuest for directions. We went on a wild goose chase with our phones and MapQuest directions.
Excellent, easy backpacking trip that's beautiful in spring. The fishing looks great as well (I didn't get a chance to fish because I forgot my pole). Lots of wildlife and great side trails. I wrote a report here: