April 6, 2013

Happy Canyon

As regular readers may have suspected, we've been back to the San Rafael Desert once again. 

 As soon as we arrived, we set out for a ride across Twin Corral Flats, shown above. The remains of one of the old corrals is in the foreground. The first two photos in this post are a little blurry (doggone it, the dial on the camera was on the wrong setting, and I didn't put it there, I swear!) but maybe the out-of-focus aura shows some of the magic of the scenes (hope so, because there's nothing I can do about it now.)
This is looking into Happy Canyon, which drains into the Dirty Devil, a tributary of the Colorado River.  I wish I knew the Happy Canyon name origin, but I have no idea.  Maybe it's happy because lots of cattle thrived there, since it has good water and grass?  Maybe it's because the canyon had a healthy herd of wild horses, and a cowboy could catch himself a good young colt there - a happy event, I'm sure. Or because outlaws went through it for a great and happy escape with their rustled/stolen goods?  Since no one really knows, your guess is as good as mine.
Again, Happy Canyon is in the distance, with the shot taken from a different point on the rim, and after I'd fixed the camera setting.
We rode about 12 miles across the desert that day.  Daisy ran with us, but I didn't get her in a photo.  She was a little too hot to chase the two huge jackrabbits we spotted.
As we set up camp and got the animals fed and settled, sunset provided another of the desert's mystical views.


  1. Hi Janie, Gorgeous area... I like your thoughts about why it was called Happy Canyon... Probably true!!!! Now you will have to explain why that tributary is called Dirty Devil!!!!! ha ha

    Gorgeous sunset..

  2. Hi Janie! welcome back we have missed you.

    I like your theory of a cowboy needing another horse and finding it in Happy Canyon.

    We are still wintering here with rain, snow and ice going on. When will it end?


  3. beautiful photos
    just remember the clinteast wood movies

  4. Haunting as always. Being unfamiliar terrain to me I'm always a little conflicted about desert....

  5. I sympathize with you -- my camera mysteriously changes settings as well. I can accept any of the explanations for the name 'Happy Canyon', but I would like to know how 'Dirty Devil' got connected with this canyon.

  6. For George and Betsy, and anyone else who wants to know, Wesley Powell's expedition named the Dirty Devil on their exploration of the Colorado River in the late 1860's. As they traveled down the Colorado, they came to a roaring, muddy tributary and called it a "dirty devil". The name stuck.

  7. What a beautiful view, Janie. And yes the fuzziness adds to the magic of the place. I also love the explanations of Happy Valley's name and was just about to ask the same as everyone where Dirty Devil got its name when you explained that too. Thanks! It's good to meet up with you and to share your exciting rides. I'm intrigued: where is Utah and the places in your photos in connection with the Grand Canyon? While in SA recently I met up with a fellow blogger who lives on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. So I thought I'd ask! Have a great day. Jo

  8. It's almost sad that we know how the Dirty Devil, and thus Bright Angel, got their names yet not Happy Canyon. Gorgeous as always. I'm missing that canyon country.

  9. What lovely scenery - despite the camera settings... Love that sunset shot.

  10. Another day in the saddle. Great pics and wonderful landscapes.

  11. Lovely views of Happy Canyon no matter what the camera settings and the sunset looks so peaceful. :)

  12. Great photos Janie, what wonderful trail rides you two take. That header photo you have is stunning!

  13. Thanks for the comments, everyone.
    Jo, you must be referring to Gaelyn's home at the North Rim visitor's center. The north rim is about 250 miles south of the old outlaw trail desert rides we've been enjoying recently.

    Utah's southern border is the same as Arizona's northern border. The San Rafael Desert is in central Utah, and the north rim of the Grand Canyon is in northern Arizona.

    I hope that makes sense!

    To confuse you even more, to get to the north rim from our home in NE Utah requires about an 8 hour drive.

  14. The picture with Happy Canyon in the distance is gorgeous.

  15. What a great name for a canyon and those are spectacular rock formations and views. What a ride.

  16. What a stunning sunset to end your beautiful trail ride!


  17. Happy Canyon name origin.
    According to Ted Ekker, the name Happy Canyon was given by the sheepmen who would leave the sheep in that canyon while they went to celebrate Christmas in town. They were "Happy" because they got to do that. I believe it was the Marsing family that ran sheep there. French Seep and other names named "French" are named after the Marsing and the Moynier families.
    Alan J. Peterson



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