Utah July 04, 2019
Hike Through Utah’s Rock Maze For An Adventure Like No Other
Some of Utah’s slot canyons require canyoneering and rappelling skills to navigate, but there are a few easy slot canyons that are suitable for just about any hiker to tackle. The Willis Creek Narrows Trail in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument can be difficult to reach, but once you get there, it’s an adventure like no other.
The Willis Creek Narrows hike is one of the best slot canyon adventures you can take. It's a fairly easy journey with almost no elevation gain and no need for technical skills. While some slot canyons are difficult to navigate, this one is suitable for almost every hiker.
The most difficult thing about this adventure is getting to the narrows. From the town of Cannonville, you'll take Kodachrome Road to Cottonwood Canyon Road. Turn onto Skutumpah Road, then travel for about six miles to the parking lot at the trail head.
Skutumpah Road is a dirt road that can be a little bit dicey if you don't have a 4-wheel drive vehicle. Sedans can usually make it down the road, but you'll want to take it slow and navigate around the ruts and rocks. Don't attempt this road if it's wet and muddy.
Before you head out on this trail, make sure to check the weather forecast. Though it's an easy slot canyon to navigate, it's deadly during a flash flood. Make sure you're carrying plenty of water with you to stay hydrated. In the summer, this area can be blistering hot.
The trail is 4.8 miles round trip, but you can cut it short once you get through the narrows and turn around there, which cuts the mileage down to just a little over 2.5 miles.
Throughout most of the hike, you'll be walking through Willis Creek, which can vary in depth, but is usually just a few inches deep. Make sure to wear sturdy shoes that you can get wet.
During the first part of the trail, the canyon is fairly wide...
...but the farther into the canyon you get, the more narrow it becomes.
Don't worry - it never gets so narrow that it's difficult to navigate. As the slot canyon narrows, the pits and grooves in the rock get more and more interesting. This place is a photographer's dream.
By late summer, the creek may have dried up in most spots, though you still might have to deal with some mud and wet spots along the way. Depending on the time of day you're hiking, the light hitting the rock makes it especially beautiful.
Throughout your adventure, you won't need to scramble over boulders or squeeze through tight spaces. There are very few obstacles at all here, and the one or two you encounter can easily be walked around.
When you're through the slot canyon, you can choose to turn around and head back, or continue on to Sheep Creek before retracing your steps back to the trail head. For the full hike, allow about 2.5-3 hours total.
As always, be a good steward of this beautiful place. Don't leave your trash here, and don't deface the rocks. Leave this slot canyon just as you found it, so that others can enjoy it just as much as you!
Have you hiked the Willis Creek Narrows Trail? Tell us about your adventure!
If you’re looking for another pretty trail, check out
this short, easy hike that will take you to a magnificent arch.