approx 3 miles round-trip
Yellow Rock is an interesting geologic formation that sits atop the reef called the Cockscomb in the southern portion of Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument. Though there is no official trail, a fairly-well-worn route zig-zags about a mile up a gully to the massive outcrop of sandstone. The route starts at the Hackberry Canyon TH where one will likely find ample parking. Most drive here via Cottonwood Road, but others may be on longer hikes such as a big loop in the Upper Paria or possibly the Hayduke Trail.
Note: if connecting to/from the Paria, consider the cool cross-country route through the “Valley of Color” south of Yellow Rock. See Master Map for route.
To get up to Yellow Rock from the TH don’t head up into Hackberry Canyon (though it’s worth a side visit if time allows), instead follow Cottonwood Wash downstream just a short distance until you see the gully enter on your right. Follow this side wash up a ways before picking up a route up through the rocky slope on the right. After a good climb, the route somewhat flattens and various routes may emerge as Yellow Rock comes into view. There is really no ‘wrong’ way here, but the best views are likely to be found on the southern end of the outcrop where the colors are the most vivid and nice streaks of orange and white intermix with the yellow. Ambitious hikers can climb all the way to the summit for incredible views in every direction.
One can turn around and return the same way, or if feeling a bit more adventurous, return down the alternate rock gully to the south. This route is shorter, but definitely not as well traveled and much rougher.
If wanting to explore more (or doing a thru-hike), it’s possible to continue past Yellow Rock and pick up a trail. The trail will split and the left-hand route runs south and will take one to point where it’s possible to access the Paria River near where it cuts through the Cockscomb at ‘The Box’. A side trip here will also lead one to the interesting rock formation known as Red Top. Back at the junction, the other direction will lead up through cow pastures and eventually to the area near Pollock Arch and on toward Hogeye Canyon.
For a different perspective of Yellow Rock (and the entire area), one can drive (or walk) up the Brigham Plains Road which climbs up the cliffband to the east of the trailhead. The road can be really rough at times, especially the upper portions. But, it rewards those who make it with an outstanding view of Yellow Rock and the entire Cockscomb formation.