If you ever get lost in the Utah outdoors, let's hope it's not in Dry Canyon. That's because there are at least 46 canyons in the Beehive State sharing that name, and searchers could conceivably find it a little confusing to know which one you're actually in.
There are five different Dry Canyons in Tooele County alone, and four each in Duchesne and Kane counties. There are also Dry Canyons found east of Laketown; east of Logan; east of Paradise; northeast of Brigham City, by the North Ogden Divide; in Ogden Canyon; east of the town of Uintah; in Morgan County; east of Alpine; east of Pleasant Grove and near Mount Nebo. Only five of Utah's 29 counties lack a Dry Canyon, including Daggett, San Juan, Summit, Washington and Wayne.Utah is the second-driest of all states, which helps explain why there are so many canyons named for their waterless natures. "Dry" is one the most popular geographical titles in the state, period - counting creeks, forks, hollows, lakes and washes - with some 250 names using the term.
Cottonwood is the second-most common canyon name, with 40 different versions. There are four Cottonwood Canyons each in Grand and San Juan counties. Third-place in popularity is Pole Canyon with 38, including four versions in Utah County.
There are 30 Rock Canyons, 30 Spring Canyons, 29 Trail Canyons, 29 Water Canyons, 26 Bear Canyons, 22 Long Canyons and 20 Horse Canyons, to round out the top 10 most common names.
Big, Black, Box Elder, Broad, Bull, Coal, Corral, Cow, Coyote, Deep, Fish, Flat, Maple, Mill, Pine, Red and Sawmill are all names applied to 10 or more canyons.
In a state the size of Utah, you would expect some name duplication in different counties or sections. However, some of the repetition seems to defy explanation.
For example, there are six different Bear Canyons in Carbon County alone. The close proximity of same-named canyons is also remarkable. There's a Bear Canyon on the east side of Mount Nebo, running northeast-southwest between the Bear Canyon Campground/Salt Creek Road and the Mount Nebo Scenic Byway. Barely three miles away as the bird flies and on the west side of Nebo is yet another (and non-connecting) Bear Canyon above the town of Mona that runs east-west. How two Bear Canyons could end up so close together is not clear today, but it's unlikely any renaming will take place at this stage in local history.
Still another example of this phenomenon is found in Weber County. There's a Cold Water Canyon east of North Ogden that is infamous for producing mud slides, while yet another Cold Water Canyon is less than four miles away in Ogden Canyon. There's also a Cottonwood Canyon southwest of Laketown in Rich County, and not too many miles away is another connecting with Logan Canyon.
Canyons are not the only feature subject to duplication, either.
If you're leaving to explore "The Narrows," you'd better indicate whether it's in Zion National Park or wherever - there are at least two dozen different "The Narrows" in Utah.
There are also 16 different Black Mountains to hike in the state, along with 15 Twin Peaks (three in Salt Lake County), 14 Little Mountains and 11 Bald Mountains.
Deseret Peak is another common name, with three versions - the kingpin's in Tooele County (at 11,031-feet above sea level), but there is also a 6,984-foot Deseret Peak west of Lakeside and yet another (7,510 elevation) northwest of Echo Canyon.
Other popular geographical names include 50 Mud Springs, 40 Willow Springs, 26 Rock Springs, 26 Cottonwood Springs and 21 Cold Springs.
For valleys, the Little Valley name is tops with 29 versions, while Birch Creek leads its category with 32. There are also 26 Willow Creeks and 24 Cottonwood Creeks.
There are 25 Spring Hollows in Utah, 28 Dry Forks and more Left-Hand This and Right-Hand That features than anyone would care to count.
Lakes also suffer from name duplication. There are 15 Dry Lakes, 15 Blue Lakes, 13 Mud Lakes, seven different Big Lakes and four different Bear Lakes in Utah. Even in the High Uintas, there are at least two of the following name repeats for: Wall Lake, Island Lake, Lilly Lake and Lost Lake.
Mollies Nipple isn't as common a name as some believe. There are only five in the state, including two in Utah County. (It's probably just that this is the type of unusual name you don't tend to forget.)
Cuation advised: Accident ahead
Place names abound in duplicate, triplicate and more in Utah, but some mighty unusual monikers can also be spotted on maps in Utah. Among them:
Accident Canyon, Convulsion Canyon, Baboon Seep, Blubber Creek, Skull Crack Canyon, Girl Hollow, Hang Dog Creek, Horsethief Canyon, No Man's Mountain, No Man's Canyon, Weed Basin, Keg Spring, Beer Bottle Spring, Brew Canyon, Ether Peak, Shoofly Hill, The Peak, Sunday Canyon, Ant Peak, Dead Ox Peak, Deadman Gulch, Pets Spring and Bellyache Canyon.
There's also a First, Second and East "Hamongog," and there are Becky Jimmie, Scott and Bill's basins - all in close proximity.
Hell Canyon in Morgan County is not an unusual name in itself, but it connects directly with Paradise Canyon!
And, if you'd like an impossible peak to climb, try Impossible Peak, topping out at 7,767 feet above sea level in Garfield County, northeast of Boulder.