Success Story 2023

Labyrinth Canyon Wilderness Protection

Labyrinth Canyon
Photo: Ray Bloxham
Labyrinth Canyon Wilderness Protection
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
40 river miles protected

The Green River cuts through Labyrinth Canyon just outside of Moab, Utah. Labyrinth lives up to its name as a complex maze of red rock, canyonland geography. Impressive side canyons and several tributaries feed into a slow-moving, 40-mile stretch of the Green River. It provides vital habitat for native and migratory bird species, and is home to numerous prehistoric cultural sites and resources.

The west side of Labyrinth Canyon was designated as federal wilderness in 2019, and the river segment is protected under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), supported in part by a Conservation Alliance grant in 2022, has been actively lobbying for equal protection for the east side of Labyrinth Canyon.

SUWA announced a huge step forward in September 2023 with the finalization of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) “Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges Travel Management Plan.”A key provision to the plan significantly curtails the near unfettered access via motorized transport. Motorized recreation (especially off-road vehicles or ORVs) has dramatically increased in and around the east side of Labyrinth Canyon in recent years due to few user restrictions. The BLM’s plan balances non-motorized and motorized recreational uses. It still allows motor vehicles on 800 miles of established trails, but will largely restrict motors across the majority of the 300,000 acres under BLM management.