360° VR Panoramas of the Canyonlands of Utah
Headquarters Canyon
Capitol Reef National Park, Utah


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Headquarters Canyon trailhead

Headquarters Canyon trailhead

This sandy flat served as headquarters for twice-annual cattle drives up and down the Burr Trail. Now it is notable for two trailheads, Headquarters Canyon and Surprise Canyon, both leading into amazing gorges within the Waterpocket Fold.

Headquarters Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Date photographed: May 3, 2014
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Trail to Headquarters Canyon

Trail to Headquarters Canyon

The trail to Headquarters Canyon crosses a sandy flat and shallow wash before reaching the bedrock ridges

Headquarters Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Date photographed: May 3, 2014
See location in Google Maps

Evening primroses on the Headquarters Canyon trail

Evening primroses on the Headquarters Canyon trail

On our hike to the canyon mouth we encountered evening primroses covering the sandy flats. These lovely flowers come out in the evening then fade the next day.

Headquarters Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Date photographed: May 3, 2014
See location in Google Maps

Small ridges east of the Capitol Reef at Headquarters Canyon

Small ridges east of the Capitol Reef at Headquarters Canyon

A number of different geologic strata are upturned along the Waterpocket Fold. The Headquarters Canyon hike traverses this brilliant red rock just before reaching the white Navajo sandstone of the main gorge.

Headquarters Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Date photographed: May 3, 2014
See location in Google Maps

Red and white sandstone in Headquarters Canyon

Red and white sandstone in Headquarters Canyon

Near its mouth Headquarters Canyon cuts through layers of red and white sandstone

Headquarters Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Date photographed: May 3, 2014
See location in Google Maps

Just before the narrows in Headquarters Canyon

Just before the narrows in Headquarters Canyon

Soon after entering the Navajo sandstone the sunlight-filled canyon narrows to a shadowy slot.

Headquarters Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Date photographed: May 3, 2014
See location in Google Maps

Inside Headquarters Canyon

Inside Headquarters Canyon

There is a cathedral-like feeling in Headquarters Canyon

Headquarters Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Date photographed: May 3, 2014
See location in Google Maps

Headquarters Canyon rubble

Headquarters Canyon rubble

There is no real trail in Headquarters Canyon and the route becomes increasingly blocked by rubble and choked with brush

Headquarters Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Date photographed: May 3, 2014
See location in Google Maps

Afternoon shadows deep in Headquarters Canyon

Afternoon shadows deep in Headquarters Canyon

Except for the narrows, Headquarters Canyon is wide enough for small sand hills and riparian vegetation along the tiny stream.

Headquarters Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Date photographed: May 3, 2014
See location in Google Maps

Headquarters Canyon in the Capitol Reef

Headquarters Canyon in the Capitol Reef

Cool air and indirect light in the stony depths of Headquarters Canyon, a gorge eroded into the Navajo sandstone of the Waterpocket Fold in Capitol Reef National Park.

Headquarters Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Date photographed: May 3, 2014
See location in Google Maps

The narrows in Headquarters Canyon

The narrows in Headquarters Canyon

Most of this canyon is 20 to 50 meters wide between the vertical walls. But this section, near the lower end, is only half a meter at its narrowest. The rock is Navajo sandstone, petrified sand dunes from the Jurassic.

Headquarters Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Date photographed: May 3, 2014
See location in Google Maps

Below the narrows in Headquarters Canyon

Below the narrows in Headquarters Canyon

The trail leads into a sandy wash just below the Narrows in Headquarters Canyon

Headquarters Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Date photographed: May 3, 2014
See location in Google Maps

Previous locality: Surprise Canyon Next locality: Burr Trail-South