Aztec Butte | Canyonlands National Park

Aztec Butte is large butte sitting just off Upheaval Dome Road in Canyonlands National Park. The butte is the starting point for two hikes, one of which is perfect even for little kids. The second hike is a little longer and steeper, but circles right around to the top of the butte. Both are family friendly, depending on your family.

The first hike is to an ancient structure called The Granary. There are actually two granaries built right under the lip of the hill. These storage sites were used for grain. They use the natural rock and a few stones to cemented together to create safe place to secure their crops. The second climbs the much higher butte in the back and is considerably more difficult.

The trail is very sandy.

The Granary

The trail starts out to the right of smaller hill in the front. It wraps around counter-clockwise to the far side of the hill. There is a trail junction that points to the right to Aztec Bluff, or to the left to the granaries. For the easier hike, go left.

The granaries are on the backside of the the small butte.
Watch for the small junction sign.
After the junction, you climb up the slick rock.

The trail climbs the backside of this smaller hill and continues in a counter-clockwise direction to the top of the hill. Then, it drops down through a narrow gap in the rock below the rim. It’s a little confusing which way to go. Watch for the information sign. Just past the sign is a gap in the rock. Once you go down the gap, turn left under the rim. You’ll find the granaries within 20 feet. Do not touch or climb in the ancient structures, but take a few pictures before you head back the way you came. Total distance just to the granaries and back to the parking area is 0.9 mile.

Once you are on top of the small butte, follow the trail to the granaries.
Make sure to enjoy the views.
Once you reach this sign, you will scramble down to the granary.
There is a narrow gap in the rocks to go down.
Don’t touch or bother the historic granaries.
It is neat to see how they used the rocks to store things.

Aztec Butte

If you decide to do the full hike and head over to Aztec Butte, the hike is much longer and steeper. After hiking to the granaries, return the way you came and at the junction turn toward the large butte instead of the parking lot. The trail is flat as you approach Aztec Butte. Then the hike climbs up across the face of the butte before cresting on top. There are some steep areas and you will need to use hands and feet together in some places to climb the butte.

After the granaries, come back to the trail and head toward the taller butte.
You will climb up all of this slick rock to reach the top of Aztec Butte.

As you traverse the top of the butte, you’ll pass other ancient structures, though to us, they looked like reconstructions rather than original buildings. The great thing about climbing Aztec Butte is the view from on top. You can see out across Canyonlands for miles and miles from the top. This makes the climb worth it. The total distance with stopping at the granaries, hiking to the top of the butte, and back is almost 2.0 miles roundtrip. If you just hike straight to Aztec Butte and skip the granary, it is 1.4 miles roundtrip.

This structure is on the top of Aztec Butte.
You can see a long way at the top.

We enjoy this trail to Aztec Butte in Canyonlands, especially to see the granaries and the views. For other great kid hikes in this national park, visit our post: Canyonlands Kid Hikes.

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