Lost Canyon is a short but incredible canyon which contains two beautiful sets of narrows with the location being lost deep in the Cottonwood Mountains. This report covers Lower Lost Canyon. Difficulties encountered on the hike include driving and/or hiking long distances, route finding to access the secluded canyon, and getting past some small dry falls. A Google Earth map of the route which I used to explore the canyon (turned to the northwest for better viewing) can be found by clicking on the button above. The best parking area for hikers who want to reach Lower Lost Canyon is at the White Top Mountain area. GPS coordinates for the mouth of Lost Canyon are 36° 50.618'N, 117° 26.031'W.
I first learned about the mysterious place known as Lost Canyon back in October of 2010. A fellow Death Valley hiker had e-mailed me to discuss Grave Canyon and mentioned Lost Canyon in passing as a discovery he had made while hiking deep in the Cottonwoods near Tin Mountain. The hiker sent me a few pictures of Lost Canyon which were very impressive. However, since I had just spent three days in the area and hiked to the summit of Tin Mountain two months earlier, I knew that I would not be able to get back for quite some time to check out Lost Canyon. But the interesting thing was that I had unknowingly walked right by the head of Lost Canyon while on my way to Tin Mountain on that trip. I even remember looking down the head of the canyon and commenting that I wished that I had time to explore it because it looked interesting. Three and a half years after first receiving this information, I finally made it to Lost Canyon. I did this as part of my three day backpacking trip which went up Bighorn North, continued on to Lower Lost Canyon, and then went down Bighorn Gorge. If a hiker reading this was interested in reaching Lost Canyon, it would be much easier for most people just to park at White Top Mountain and day hike to it. In fact, a day hiker could easily do both O'Brien Canyon and Lost Canyon on the same hike. Both of those canyons are so beautiful that by combining them it would create a hike that would rival Bighorn Gorge for scenic beauty. Trying to do all three canyons in a single day would be pushing things a little bit and probably make the hike so rushed that you would not be able to fully enjoy what you are seeing or take great photographs. Lost Canyon can be divided into two areas -- the upper canyon and the lower canyon. Lost Canyon was originally named for the middle section (which is not documented here), but I have extended it to include the lower half which is part of the same canyon or drainage. The upper and middle canyon is more difficult to get into than the lower canyon, as it requires more time, challenging route finding, navigating sheer cliffs, and scrambling along cliffs while using sheep trail bypasses. Due to the extreme difficulty of safely accessing the upper and middle canyon, I'm not going to discuss those areas in this report. I did not visit them on this trip and my experience in seeing them is limited to the view I had looking down the head of Lost Canyon in August of 2010 on my Tin Mountain hike. Instead, this report will focus on Lower Lost Canyon. To put it simply... Lower Lost Canyon is spectacular. There are two sets of beautiful narrows. The 1st Narrows are somewhat shallow, but the rock is polished and the narrows are truly enjoyable to walk through. Toward the end of the 1st Narrows, there is a challenging dry fall that most people will not be able to climb. However, it is fairly easy to bypass this obstacle by backing up in the canyon and looking for a bypass route going up the south side. After the 1st Narrows, the canyon opens up for a little bit. A short distance later, Lost Canyon appears to dead-end with no way out. But if you look carefully, you will find a massive narrow slot cut into the rock which goes back into the depths of the hillside. This is where the 2nd Narrows, also known as Lost Slot, begins. Lost Slot features extremely high walls, very tight slot narrows, one giant wedged boulder overhead, and a stunning dry fall at the end. Lost Slot is such a pretty area and well worth the effort required to get there. My only complaint about Lower Lost Canyon is that I wish it was longer. You can hike through both sets of passable narrows in about 45 minutes, once you have spent several hours hiking to the beginning of the canyon. But in that time, you will be immersed in an incredible world of beautiful canyon narrows. As noted on the route map linked to above, we used a slightly different route to access Lost Canyon on our backpacking trip. That is because we came from the head of Bighorn North. After exploring Lost Canyon fully, we completed our backpacking trip loop by hiking down Bighorn Gorge and returning to our camp. Since I had the space for a few extra pictures within this report, I'm including 12 additional photos of Bighorn Gorge taken on the same day, showing angles that I had not photographed before within the narrows there. It might seem like a bit of a risky proposition to include a few photos of Bighorn Gorge within this report, as if perhaps Bighorn Gorge would outshine Lost Canyon and become a distraction. But as you will see, Lost Canyon can hold its own quite well and prove itself as a very worthy destination. This trip report is a continuation of my trip report for Bighorn North. Our backpacking trip took place on April 3-5, 2014.
Many more photographs taken during our visit are available for viewing for this destination. To see all of them, choose one of the two options presented below. The two options are Slideshow viewing and Trip Report viewing. The Slideshow option allows for viewing larger images with an autoplay option and a full screen option (available on most browsers). This option works very well for large computer screens and tablets. The Trip Report option allows for viewing smaller pictures in a standard scroll-down format and enlarging of any panoramic photos taken during our visit. Click on the option of your choice to view all of our photos from this destination. The Slideshow format opens in a new browser window and the Trip Report format uses the same browser window for viewing.
TRIP REPORT FORMAT