The main road runs 6.5 miles past the visitor center to Big Spring Canyon Overlook. On the way, you can stop at several nature trails, turn off on four-wheel-drive roads, or take short spur roads to trailheads and Squaw Flat Campground.
Roadside Ruin (0.3 mile round-trip) is on the left, 0.4 mile past the visitor center. A loop trail passes near a well-preserved granary left by Anasazi. A trail guide available at the start tells about the Anasazi and the local plants.
Cave Spring Trail (0.6 mile round-trip) introduces the geology and ecology of the park and leads to an old cowboy line camp. Turn left 0.7 mile past the visitor center and follow signs about one mile to the trailhead. Pick up the brochure at the beginning. Follow the loop clockwise, crossing some slickrock; two ladders assist on the steep sections. Cowboys used the cave as a line camp from the late 1800s until establishment of the park in 1964; the line camp is just 50 yards in from the trailhead.
A road to Elephant Hill Trailhead (6-11 miles round-trip) turns left 2.7 miles past the ranger station. A picnic area is at the base of Elephant Hill, three miles past the campground turnoff and on the scenic drive. Hiking trails lead into wonderful rock forms and canyons from both the campground and picnic areas. Only experienced drivers in four-wheel-drive vehicles should continue past the picnic area up Elephant Hill.
Pothole Point Trail (0.6 mile round-trip) is on the left of the main road five miles past the visitor center. Highlights of this loop hike are the many potholes dissolved in the Cedar Mesa sandstone. A brochure illustrates the fairy shrimp, tadpole shrimp, horsehair worm, snail, and other adaptable creatures that spring to life when rains fill the potholes. You'll also enjoy fine views of distant buttes from the trail.
Slickrock Foot Trail (2.4 miles round-trip) begins on the right 6.2 miles past the visitor center. The loop trail takes you north to an overlook of the confluence of Big Spring and Little Spring Canyons. Hiking is easy and offers good panoramas.
Big Spring Canyon Overlook, 6.5 miles past the visitor center, marks the end of the scenic drive but not the scenery. The Confluence Overlook Trail (10 miles round-trip) begins here and winds west to an overlook of the Green and Colorado Rivers.
© W.C. McRae and Judy Jewell from Moon Utah, 9th Edition