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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Cottonwood Canyon Narrows, UT

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72 7 0
Guide 7 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List UT > Southwest
Rated
3.5
3.5 of 5 by 4
 
2
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
Canyoneering
Consensus
View 1
Grade1
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Risk
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Statistics
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Loop 2.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,800 feet
Elevation Gain 200 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1.25 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 3.5
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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19  2018-06-22 JasonCleghorn
7  2016-10-04 AZWanderingBear
12  2016-05-21 azbackpackr
9  2015-05-07 AZLOT69
10  2013-06-14 AZLOT69
15  2008-04-19 PaleoRob
Author PaleoRob
author avatar Guides 137
Routes 111
Photos 5,253
Trips 942 map ( 2,097 miles )
Age 38 Male Gender
Location Grand Junction, CO
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Preferred   Apr, May, Sep, Oct → 2 PM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:15am - 6:25pm
Official Route
 
0 Alternative
 
Water
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Quick, narrow canyon hike
by PaleoRob

Likely In-Season!
Overview
Cottonwood Canyon Road, located in the western portion of the Grand Staircase-Escalante, is a major connecting route between US89 that runs between Kanab, Page and UT12. It runs between Bryce Canyon and Boulder. CCR also serves as primary access to the popular hikes in the western monument. One such hike is the short jaunt up the Cottonwood Canyon Narrows.

There are two trailhead options, one at 24.4 miles up CCR from US89, while the other is a mile further north on CCR. While the upper end of Cottonwood Canyon Narrows may be more interesting for those looking for narrow canyon action, this hike will be described from the southern trailhead, as that is where my experience lays.

Hike
After parking at the signed trailhead parking area, descend to the wash bottom. The hiking for the first half mile will be in deep sand, so be prepared for that. Head upstream into the canyon ahead of you, after crossing under the power lines. The canyon walls are not terribly narrow at this point, and in fact are not very steep in places, allowing you to climb out of the canyon, if you so wish, to survey the scene around you. What the lower canyon lacks in narrowness, however, it makes up in other geological oddities. Arches, fins, hoodoos, and spires sprout from the canyon walls with regularity. Take time to stop and look around as you hike upcanyon.

After about half a mile, the canyon begins to narrow, and "slot up." If you've come expecting a slot canyon the likes of Antelope or Waterholes Canyons, or even Willis Creek, you'll likely be disappointed. The walls get tall, the lower portions get sculpted-looking, but it never achieves the feel of a true slot. None the less, it is pretty neat.

The beginning of the true narrows, when you're hiking upcanyon, begins at the Great Vault, an enormous alcove tucked just up under the rim of the canyon on the west side. Someday (perhaps soon?) this will form an arch as the center continues to erode. For now, its just another funky geologic anomaly to chalk up on your hike. The canyon bottom gets rockier at this point, and scrambling over boulders may be required at various points.

The walls continue to narrow and if you're hiking late in the day, you may feel like you're walking in a tunnel where no light reaches the canyon bottom. A few more fins and arches appear on the canyon rim. Even in late April you may find some snow in the canyon bottom, where the sun never reaches.

Eventually the canyon starts widening again. Small boulder falls cross the creek bottom, scrambling up 5 feet of boulders may be required. Dogs shouldn't have a problem with this, however, provided they are in good shape and can jump moderate distances.

The canyon suddenly opens, cutting back through to the east side of The Cockscomb. A dark slot takes off to the left, while a sandy wash continues straight ahead, and power lines become visible again. This is the end of the hike. Follow the sandy wash out of The Cockscomb, and climb the embankment to the road. If you've shuttled a car to this point, hop in and drive south to the original trailhead. Otherwise hike back to the trailhead on the road one mile to the south. If you want to walk back through the canyon, the total round-trip distance becomes 3 miles. Exploration of the few blind slot side-canyons off Cottonwood Canyon Narrows, that you'll see on your hike, will increase the distance a little bit more as well, depending on which ones you enter and how far you hike them.

Note
This is a dry hike - bring all the water you'll need. There is also a serious flash-flood danger for this canyon during monsoons. Be aware of the weather. Be sure to stop at the Big Water Visitor's Center before heading out to check on the latest road and canyon conditions.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your canyon trip to support this local community.

2008-04-21 PaleoRob
    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.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Cottonwood Canyon Narrows
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    We'd planned to drive Cottonwood Canyon Road earlier in our 10-day trip into Utah. But rain had rendered the road impassable. After checking with the BLM visitor center in Cannonville, we headed south along the geologic fault that created the Cottonwood Canyon. After a quick stop and hike up to Grosvenor Arch, we halted at the south trailhead to the Cottonwood Narrows. Its a quick drop down into the Narrows from the small pullout. Right at the start there was a scramble up and over a dry waterfall. The rest of the Narrows was easy walking. Our fascination with the tight canyon took us a ways past the climb out to north trailhead. Eventually we doubled back and climbed out to road walk back to the truck. Didn't see a soul on the hike. I like that.
    Cottonwood Canyon Narrows
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    We'd planned to drive Cottonwood Canyon Road earlier in our 10-day trip into Utah. But rain had rendered the road impassable. After checking with the BLM visitor center in Cannonville, we headed south along the geologic fault that created the Cottonwood Canyon. After a quick stop and hike up to Grosvenor Arch, we halted at the south trailhead to the Cottonwood Narrows. Its a quick drop down into the Narrows from the small pullout. Right at the start there was a scramble up and over a dry waterfall. The rest of the Narrows was easy walking. Our fascination with the tight canyon took us a ways past the climb out to north trailhead. Eventually we doubled back and climbed out to road walk back to the truck. Didn't see a soul on the hike. I like that.
    Cottonwood Canyon Narrows
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Sorry, Rob, but this isn't "canyoneering." I switched the designation on my triplog to "hiking" from "canyoneering." It's a very easy hike along the relatively flat bottom of a canyon. No rappelling, hardware, wetsuits, packrafts, or other gear or skills required.

    My GPS route is not very accurate due to losing satellite coverage. Since the going down route seemed more accurate than the coming back, I removed the coming back part before posting the route. It had jumped all over the place.

    Anyway, I don't seem to enjoy slot canyons very much. They don't improve my mood or general outlook on life as much as does the view from the top of a peak. This one had a lot of interesting geology, but I soon tired of it and I turned around after less than a mile. True, it was late in the day, and I wanted to get back home to Page.

    I'll include some photos from the road. I loved the drive!

    I'll still visit slot canyons from time to time, I'm sure, but there are other things to see.

    As for water in the bottom of it, there had been a recent trickle, which had dried up, and there was one small place where I got my shoes muddy. But there was no filterable water in this.

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To canyon trip
    From Page, drive west on US89 towards Kanab. Stop in Big Water at the GSENM Visitor's Center (signed) and check on road conditions. Then head west on US89, past Church Wells. Turn right on Cottonwood Canyon Road, and drive north 24.4 miles to the parking area on the left hand side of the road, marked with a sign "Trail" for the southern trailhead, or continue north another mile for the northern trailhead.
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