Willis Creek Slot Canyon, Utah
Willis Creek in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is a family-friendly slot canyon hike for any skill level. With a meandering stream and towering walls, your family will be enthralled by this unique Utah adventure.
Fun: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (out of 5)
Difficulty: Very Easy EASY MODERATE Hard Very Hard
(Easy to Moderate depending on how far you decide to hike)
Distance: 1 to 5 miles
Elevation Gain: Mostly flat
Terrain: Dirt, sand, water, mud, mostly shaded due to canyon walls - plan accordingly
Time: 1 to 4 hours, depending on how far/fast you hike
When to Go: Spring, Summer, Fall (Never go if it is raining or if there is a chance of rain)
None at trailhead
Closest amenities 30 minutes away in Cannonville
THINGS TO BRING
Hiking shoes that can get wet
4x4 vehicle with plenty of gas
Willis Creek is a great family slot canyon because it is flat, does not require additional equipment and the slot begins within a quarter mile of the trailhead. It is great for all ages and abilities. You can hike a just a short distance and have an amazing slot canyon experience or go longer if you want more. It is an out-and-back hike, so go how far you want and then turn around. The canyon never gets less than three feet wide so it is great for those who want to experience a slot canyon but might be a little claustrophobic.
Willis Creek Slot Canyon was our first slot canyon adventure as a family. We were in absolute awe the entire hike and from then on we were hooked on slot canyons. We hiked with an 11, 10, 7 and 2 year old without any difficulty. The 2 year old hiked a good portion because he was loving walking in the water.
Follow my directions below on how to get the the trailhead. BLM500/Skutumpah Rd is dirt road and is impassable when wet and muddy. I do recommend a 4x4 vehicle because of steeper grades and maneuvering needed on rough terrain. We went in our van without 4x4 and it was a questionable drive in some areas. The views on the drive are incredible.
The trail begins on the east side of the parking lot across the the dirt road. After walking only a short distance you will drop down to the creek and find yourself immersed in this stunning slot canyon. You will follow the creek bed the entire hike.
Within the first half mile you come to a small waterfall and a canyon. You can get around this by going around either direction but the right side is a bit easier to maneuver.
As you continue, there are breaks in the slot. Keep moving forward and you will find another area of slots. When the slots open up there are beautiful canyon walls and forest/desert scenery.
Each area of the canyon has different texture, color and rock design in the walls. We spent our time exploring each new area.
You can choose to turn around and any point and head back to the parking lot. When you hit a rock wall T in the trail this is the official end of the Willis Creek hike - This is where Willis Creek meets Sheep Creek. See map under directions below.
We hiked Willis Creek while we were camping at Kodachrome State Park. Its about a 30 minute drive from there. It is also only 40 minutes from Bryce Canyon National Park.
Slot Canyon Safety
It is very important to check weather conditions before attempting to hike any slot canyon. Flash flooding can happen creating a dangerous situation in slots. Before hiking any narrow canyons we check the National Weather Service at www.weather.gov/slc/flashflood for flash flood potential. We only attempt to hike if flash floods are not expected.
PROS & CONS
Not a technically difficult slot canyon
Quick access to slot from trailhead
Hike-able most of the year
Not a hard hike
Near other amazing outdoor adventures: Bryce Canyon, Kodachrome State Park, Escalante
May need a 4x4 to access
Willis Creek Slot Canyon is located in the on the west side of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument near Bryce Canyon. From Highway 12 in Cannnonville, you turn south on Kodachrome Road/Cottonwood Canyon Road for about 3 miles. You will then take a slight right onto BLM500/Skutumpah Rd. After 2.8 miles you will reach a T in the road where you will continue right onto BLM500/Skutumpah Rd and follow another 3.3 miles. There will be a parking lot on the west side of the road. The trailhead is on the east side of the parking lot across the road.
There are several dirt roads off BLM500/Skutumpah Rd. I recommend printing off or taking a screen shot of a map to the trailhead from Cannonville before driving. Reception is very spotty and it is easy to get off track.
Willis Creek Slot Canyon Trail in white below. The 2.2 miles listed on the trailhead sign is one-way. We were close to 5 miles round trip on our GPS.
OTHER NEARBY ADVENTURES
Bryce Canyon National Park (40 mins)
Kodachrome Basin State Park (30 mins)
Grosvenor Arch (50 mins)
Red Canyon (50 mins)
Hi, I'm Corrine! I'm an outdoor enthusiast, mother of four, wife, nurse and runner. I believe God gave us this beautiful earth to explore, enjoy and protect.
My goal is to inspire you to get outside and create your own amazing memories as a family. Life is precious and there are too many adventures to be had to spend life on the couch or in front of a screen.
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