Explore the best trails near Vernal with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
Fabulous hike. Great for families with children. Easily 2 hours or less total. Great views and impressive arch. Hardest part is knowing where to start. The road off 191 is not marked and hard to see from the freeway. Heading north from vernal, it's not quite a mile from the steinaker state park road on the left. It will look like it's just a pull off but there is a dirt road that goes off it. If it is muddy you will need an SUV/four wheel drive but we made it in our small Hyundai on dry roads (although some parts worried me and it could easily change as previous mud and traffic could warp it more) Once you hit the green fence, the trail is straight ahead down the gulch. There are roads going left and right. I do not know where those leads but straight ahead got us there easily:)
Little kids might have a hard time getting over a few of the boulders/steps but for the most part, it's an easy great hike/walk for all. My three year old did most of it on her own with me assisting in just a few spots. Unless you really like to study the petroglyphs, it's easily under an hour. The second walk called three kings is also nice. Be aware that you walk across a large pasture before hitting the trail. It's flatter and shorter than the other trail but with the time through the pasture it felt almost the same. The three kings trail offers some nice views of rock formations.
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.
Rosa is a really good hike to start getting the kids in the mood for other hikes in the area. The river scenes are outstanding and not too difficult.
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.