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How Long is Utah’s Nine Mile Canyon?

Nine Mile Canyon is one of the most beautiful areas in the Utah wilderness. Despite its name, it stretches across a vast part of the state. Visitors flock to this ravine to walk, cycle, or just take in the scenery.

But Nine Mile Canyon isn’t just a gorgeous rock feature. It’s also a site with an incredible amount of history.

Today, we discover how this natural wonder earned a reputation as the world’s longest art gallery.

Let’s go!

About Nine Mile Canyon

Nine Mile Canyon spans 46 miles across northeastern Utah. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) awarded this beautiful gorge a National Backcountry Byway designation in 1990. Although it’s a protected area, many people live and own property in Nine Mile Canyon today.

This incredible ravine offers tons of outdoor activities. Visitors can explore the main canyon and several smaller gorges that connect to it. Dozens of trails and paths are available to cyclists and hikers.

Some folks simply hang out and enjoy the scenery. Nine Mile Canyon is so stunning that it’s been featured multiple times in National Geographic and other nature magazines.

Rock carving in Utah's Nine Mile Canyon
A hike in Utah’s Nine Mile Canyon is a truly unique experience.

Where Is Nine Mile Canyon?

Nine Mile Canyon sits northeast of Price, Utah, on the Colorado Plateau. This huge expanse straddles both Carbon and Duchesne Counties. Running through the gorge is the Nine Mile Creek.

The surrounding area is rocky and full of other canyons, thanks to millions of years of erosion by rising and falling water levels. Although the region is pretty dry, there’s plenty of greenery due to several streams and rivers. Nine Mile Creek and numerous other waterways feed into the nearby Green River.

Explorers and settlers used Nine Mile Canyon as a trade route starting in the late 1880s. Several small ranches cropped up during that time, many of which were later abandoned. Visitors can explore the ranch ruins on foot.

Nine Mile Canyon is home to thousands of rock drawings, natural sculptures, and petroglyphs. These fantastic artifacts earned the ravine its nickname, The World’s Longest Art Gallery.

Indigenous people of the ancient Ute, Hopi, Pueblo, and Northern Cheyenne communities created these priceless artworks. They date back 400 to 1,400 CE, a period known as the Fremont Era.

Animals and hunting scenes make up most of the images. Some drawings adorning the rocks aren’t as easy to interpret. Some researchers speculate that these mysterious drawings depict “ancient astronauts,” or spiritual beings that were important to these communities.

The Fremont-era people didn’t just make art. They also built houses, grain storage rooms, and small shelters. Many of them can be seen today alongside the rock drawings.

Pro Tip: Don’t know where in Utah to go first? These are the Utah National Parks Ranked Best To Worst.

Rock carving in Nine Mile Canyon in Utah
Traveling back in time by looking at rock carvings and petroglyphs in Nine Mile Canyon.

Best Petroglyph Hikes In Nine Mile Canyon

Nine Mile Canyon is home to many natural and artistic wonders. Where else can you view beautiful scenery, ancient drawings, and thousand-year-old homes? The best way to appreciate these artifacts is in person.

Here are some of the best petroglyph hikes in the gorge.

Daddy Canyon

Daddy Canyon is one of the best-known offshoots of Nine Mile Canyon. This trail leads to many of the area’s petroglyphs and rock pictures. Some ancient structures like houses and granaries sit along this path as well.

This trail is a one-mile loop that takes under 30 minutes for most people to finish. It’s an easy path with level ground, perfect for beginner hikers. Even though it’s a popular route, you can still enjoy quiet spaces during your hike. Daddy Canyon is open to the public year-round.

Great Hunt Panel

The Great Hunt Panel is another must-see area in Nine Mile Canyon. The path leading to the site is less than one-quarter mile long, just off the main canyon trail. It leads straight to the Great Hunt Panel, one of the ravine’s biggest and most impressive petroglyphs.

The trail is a quick out-and-back path that takes five minutes to explore. It’s a popular site, so prepare to run into other folks while you take it in. But it’s worth fighting a small crowd to view this fantastic piece of ancient art.

Big Buffalo Panel

After hiking the Great Hunt Panel Trail, why not explore the Big Buffalo Panel Trail? This out-and-back path is about a third of a mile long. This panel is the most extensive petroglyph in Nine Mile Canyon. Nineteenth-century settlers also carved their names into rocks nearby, adding to the site’s fascinating history.

This easy path takes less than ten minutes to complete. While popular, it’s usually not as busy as the Great Hunt Panel Trail. Hikers can visit anytime since this trail is open year-round.

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Best Camping Near Nine Mile Canyon

You can see many of Nine Mile Canyon’s most famous sites within a day. But if you want to explore everything this gorge offers, you may want to spread your visit over a few days. Take advantage of nearby campsites and get the full experience without feeling rushed.

Range Creek

Range Creek is the perfect spot for boondocking. This free campground sits outside the Range Creek Field Station in East Carbon, Utah. Camping here gives you easy access to Range Creek Canyon, about 60 miles from Nine Mile Canyon. Cell service isn’t guaranteed here, but beautiful views are plentiful.

Although primitive, this campsite does have picnic tables, fire rings, and vault toilets. There’s also a small playground onsite, and pets and animals are welcome. However, access to the canyon is limited to people on foot or horseback.

Horse Canyon Road

Horse Canyon Road is a great option for dispersed camping. This campsite sits on BLM land in Price, Utah, a short drive from Nine Mile Canyon. Like Range Creek, this is also a free spot to camp. Many Campendium reviewers say they’ve received cell service here despite the remote location.

Fire rings are available, but otherwise, Horse Canyon is totally primitive. Pets are allowed, so bring your furry friends when you visit. However, be sure to check the campground’s status before you go since it closes each year between fall and spring.

Step Back in Time

Nine Mile Canyon isn’t just the world’s longest art gallery, it’s also one of the oldest. The amount of preserved history in this beautiful ravine is genuinely incredible. It’s no wonder so many people throughout history decided to live there and leave their mark on the land.

Whether you’re looking at thousand-year-old petroglyphs or a dilapidated ranch from the 19th century, Nine Mile Canyon offers opportunities to step back in time. After visiting this peaceful, scenic canyon, you may not want to leave!

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