Negro Bill Canyon was named after William Granstaff, a black prospector and rancher who grazed his cattle here during the late 1800s. It is a lovely canyon, cut into the Navajo Sandstone by a small, perennial stream that begins about six miles from the southern shore of the Colorado River. The trail winds along the stream through an oasis of cottonwood and willow trees, cut off from the desert above by towering sandstone cliffs; there is also an abundance of poison ivy growing in several healthy clumps along the trail, be careful!
Like all good hikes, this one also has a reward at the end. Morning Glory Natural Bridge spans the head of one of Negro Bill’s side canyons at the end of the trail. According to Bureau of Land Management statistics, Morning Glory is the sixth largest natural bridge in the United States. It’s span is 243 feet.
The trail is 4.5 miles round trip and we crossed the stream 8 times; so water accommodating shoes should be worn to do this hike.
In 1979 Negro Bill Canyon gained a great deal of notoriety over an action of the so called “Sagebrush Rebellion”. The Bureau of Land Management, wanting to study the canyon as a possible wilderness area, placed a barrier at its entrance to keep out recreational vehicles. This infuriated a group of local anti-wilderness activists who, with the help of the Grand County commissioners, bulldozed down the barrier. The county commissioners then publicly declared that the county, not the federal government, owned the canyon, and when another barrier was erected it was again bulldozed down. The conflict was resolved only after a lawsuit was filed against Grand County in the U.S. district court.
Here are our takeaways...
Me at the start of the trail
One of the 8 stream crossings
Chuck hiking over a large rock formation
A lovely desert flower along the trail
Morning Glory Arch...243 feet long, with Chuck in the foreground
A repeler coming down from Morning Glory Arch and landing close to a natural spring under the arch...you just never know what you will find when you go hiking