Willis Creek Narrows, UT

Guide 8 Triplogs Mine 0 0 Topics
4 of 5 
no permit
60 8 0
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 2.43 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,986 feet
Elevation Gain -278 feet
Accumulated Gain 93 feet
Avg Time One Way 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 2.74
Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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10  2020-11-07 BiFrost
9  2018-10-19 trekkin_gecko
15  2018-07-29 LindaAnn
13  2013-06-08 AZLOT69
13  2004-07-03 PaleoRob
Author PaleoRob
author avatar Guides 172
Routes 229
Photos 6,096
Trips 1,128 map ( 2,523 miles )
Age 41 Male Gender
Location Pocatello, ID
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Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred Oct, Apr, May, Mar → Early
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  5:27am - 7:43pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Nearby Area Water
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Easily accesible slot canyon in the GSENM.
by PaleoRob

The canyon country of the southwestern United States is one of the best places to see slot canyons, those narrow rifts in sandstone and limestone that form when there's not enough water, and then too much. While many slot canyons require technical skills and equipment to overcome large pour-overs or chockstones. In the shadow of Bryce Canyon National Park, however, lays one of the easiest slot canyons to hike through: Willis Creek.

Willis Creek is a tributary of the Paria River and starts on the flat sandy benches above Indian Hollow, just south of Cannonville. Parking is on the north side of the wash, which is usually dry, where there is a metal trail register. Sign in here, to let the land managers of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument know how many people are using Willis Creek's slot. There is not much of a trail. Instead, the route simply follows the wash bottom of Willis Creek. Although Willis Creek is usually dry, there may be seasonal puddles of water to contend with and the resultant quicksand. These are most common after periods of rain. The slot begins shortly after leaving the parking area, becomes about waist-deep. If you're thinking "Is this it?" at this point, don't worry. While this mini-slot and small pour-overs are neat-looking, especially when water is running, the main attraction is up ahead.

After about 0.25 miles after leaving the parking area the wash bends north. The walls have been growing progressively steeper, and at this bend, the first small section of narrows begins. It is straight with a sandy bottom and lasts for about a tenth of a mile. Many people turn around at this point, especially families with kids. If you continue the canyon opens up but continues deepening until you encounter another slotty section about 1/2 mile beyond the first.

After about one and a quarter miles Averett Canyon opens on your left. You have two options here: You can make this a loop hike by hiking up Averett Canyon, out to the Skutumpah Road, and down the road back to the trailhead. This would make the hike a 3.7-mile loop. The other option is to continue down to where Willis Creek ends at a T junction with another canyon, approximately 2.25 miles from the trailhead. From there you would turn around and hike back up Willis Creek to the trailhead, the same way you arrived. Either option is acceptable, and both are beautiful. Willis Creek, after Averett, continues to deepen but never gets back to the same width-height ratio making it a slot. There are also a few scattered petroglyphs after the first section of narrows that are worth looking for.

There is no water along this hike except at pools after it has been raining. You do not want to do this hike during periods when the creek is flowing, due to the danger of flash flooding. Fill your water bottles at Cannonville, just north of the trailhead, or in Kanab, if you're going to be coming the Johnson Canyon/Skutumpah Road way. If you plan to camp overnight, make sure you get a free camping permit from the GSENM Visitor's Center in either Kanab or Cannonville.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2008-01-28 PaleoRob

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    There are two ways to reach this trailhead from Kanab, Utah. Both are about the same distance. The first is to drive north on US89 until you reach Panguitch Junction/Utah Route 12. Turn right onto Utah Route 12, continue up through Red Canyon, past Bryce Canyon, and Tropic, until you reach Cannonville. Turn right onto Cottonwood Canyon Road. Follow the Cottonwood Canyon Road for about 4 miles until reaching County Road 500, also known as the Skutumpah Road. Turn right onto the Skutumpah Road, go up the sandy rise (it is passable to a low clearance car in dry weather), and stay on the road for about 7 miles. You will cross one wash (this is Averett Canyon), go around a sharp bend, and head for the bottom of another low canyon. This is Willis Creek, and the parking area is on the north side of the canyon. The total distance is about 96 miles.

    The other option is to head south on US89 towards Page/Lake Powell (not on US89A). Turn left onto the Johnson Canyon Road. Follow the Johnson Canyon Road until it ends at a T-junction. Make a right onto the Skutumpah Road. Follow the Skutumpah Road for about 26 miles. After crossing Bull Valley Gorge, the next wash you cross will be Willis Creek. Look for the parking area and trail register on the north side of the wash. The total mileage from Kanab is about 53 miles. Driving times will be similar. If you're got a high clearance w/4x4, take the Skutumpah Road. If you're got a passenger car, take the 89/12 route, you'll be on dirt roads less.
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills

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