Wild Horse Window

Rain was in the forecast for Sunday afternoon, so I wanted to do a short hike in the morning to beat any showers. I figured we’d play it safe and avoid slot canyons just in case the rain arrived earlier than expected. We took our time with breakfast letting other campers around us pack up and leave first. We’re never in a hurry to get back home after a weekend outing; we’d rather use every last hour we can.

We packed up our site and made the brief drive to the trail. We got started a little after 10. The trail to Wild Horse Window isn’t marked and it’s not signed at any point either. I had a map on my gps, and we still managed to start at the wrong spot.

Our goal was that dark pocket straight ahead
Here we go

We descended into Temple Wash and made our way to the established trail. Once we reached the slickrock (the San Rafael Reef) there were some cairns to mark the way, but eventually they petered out. They weren’t really necessary past a certain point anyhow. For most of the hike, the destination is within eyesight; dropping away with each fall and coming back into view with each rise. It was fairly easy to follow the slickrock straight to the window.

It was a gorgeous morning
One of my favorites – follow the leader
Looking toward Goblin Valley SP and Wild Horse Butte

The entrance to the window narrows into a short canyon. It remains fairly wide and has quite a bit of vegetation. We followed a series of pour-offs to the end. I could skirt the water in every case but the last. I took off my socks and shoes to wade through with Tru. We followed a sandbar through the shallowest parts, but it still reached mid-calf at its deepest point. The water was ice cold, and Tru wasn’t hot enough to relish it. Zach managed to scramble around above us.

At the entrance
(on the way back)
Looking east toward the end of the canyon (on our way back)

We arrived at the window, and we had it completely to ourselves. We’d seen a family hiking around on the slickrock in the distance, but they appeared to be headed down. The window is a natural bridge which opens up into a large alcove with a pothole arch at the top. The twin bridges are sometimes called the Eyes of Sinbad.
We let Truman run around while we admired the eye-like arch at the top of the cave. The desert varnish provided eyelashes and the bluebird sky beyond made it pop.

Up along the edge of the alcove we noticed some petroglyphs. It wasn’t terribly easy to get up there, and Tru wanted to follow Zach, so I stayed below with him. They weren’t very pronounced, kind of faint against the light-colored rock, but impressive as always. From his perch near the petroglyphs, Zach was able to snap a photo of me and Tru below the pothole arch giving a nice perspective of the space.

Panel of petroglyphs
Zach took this from the petroglyphs

We had the place to ourselves the entire time. It was really peaceful. As we made our way down, there wasn’t anyone else coming up. We rarely encounter such trails in Utah, especially since we are generally limited to hiking on holidays and weekends. So this trail was special.

Back at our car, we decided to extend our trip home and take a detour back to I-70. We drove back to Temple Mountain and drove the graded (ish) dirt road all the way to the Interstate. It was a beautiful drive through open country and it made me regret that our weekend was already over. It was also our first time driving that section of I-70. When the interstate cuts through the Reef it’s pretty spectacular!
We stopped in Helper for coffee, ran into our old neighbors, and then hopped back in the car to finish the drive to Salt Lake.

Stunning view of Temple Mtn. & the Reef

2 replies »

  1. Petroglyphs, way cool. And the Pothole Arch, nature never ceases to amaze. Could you tell if the recessed “Pocket” just under the Pothole (should be called Portal by the way) is natural or man-made? Love it that Tru gets to experience the adventure as well. Be well! Chip

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