Canyonlands: Tales from Narrow Places

The unexpected in the Blue Range Primitive Area

Posted in Southern & Central Arizona by canyoneering on June 3, 2009

Hannah Canyon and Hannah Hot Springs, 2BV
19 miles
Blue Range Primitive Area
05/30/09 – 06/01/09

We had never been to this wilderness before. We knew little of what to expect beyond tidbits of information online, in books and maps. It is the Blue Range Primitive Area in far eastern Arizona and consists of over 174,000 acres of rugged and raw country. The draw was Hannah Hot Springs; an isolated 133-degree hot spring in a narrow canyon in the middle of the Blue Range Primitive Area, 20 miles from the nearest civilization.

The approach began with a 13-mile drive on dirt road from New Mexico. We parked literally on the New Mexico side of its border with Arizona and crossed into our home state with a sign indicating “ENTER ARIZ” on a barbed wire fence. Under stormy but dry skies, four miles of trailless navigation over mesas and through dry washes brought us to the head of Hannah Canyon. We set up camp for the night on top of the rim above the canyon and before nightfall were treated to a massive full rainbow that spanned the entire valley.

The next day we made our made way down Hannah Canyon. After three miles of relatively easy travel the canyon narrowed up and we were faced with a number of down climbs and full on swimmers. There were no rappels but the difficultness of the down climbs was unexpected and was compounded by the fact that we were joined by our 20-pound dog, Briscoe. Assisting Briscoe with the climbs and swims we finally made it to the hot springs.

The hot water was welcome relief after the cold swims, especially for Briscoe, but with temperatures in the upper 80s and the catch basin of the hot springs in the full sun, dunks in the cold pools were necessary between soaks in the hot bath.

Our return route to camp included ascending two different conjoined canyons, one of which featured an amazing section of conglomerate narrows with logs wedged into the walls 25 feet off the ground, demonstrating the power of the flash food. Continuing we climbed up and over a mesa covered in surreal rock before dropping back into Hannah Canyon.

That night in camp a full rainbow resembling the one from the night before appeared in the exact same location as the earlier rainbow. The next morning with a sun bleached cow’s skull we left this new and exciting wilderness.



3 Responses

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  1. […] sections it was easy to pick Briscoe up like a brief case and carry him forward. (Click here and here and here for other adventures with […]

  2. Belinda said, on October 7, 2010 at 3:29 am

    Don’t suppose you have a GPS tracklog to the spring? We’re heading there this weekend….

    Thanks 🙂

    • canyoneering said, on October 7, 2010 at 4:40 pm

      I don’t have any GPS points but I did use the Falcon Guide, “Touring Arizona Hot Springs”. I think there is also info on the site

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