Unlike many slot canyons that require tricky approaches, sleuthy navigation, and technical descents, Willis Creek Narrows is mellow and accessible. Here, you’ll find great visual rewards with minimal effort.
Willis Creek Slot Canyon is located off Skutumpah Road in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The hike is a 4.8-mile round trip, but you can turn around after you finish the narrows section, making it a 2.6-mile round trip. The trail gains a scant 300 feet as it follows the perennial Willis Creek. Much of the hike involves uncountable creek crossings or hiking directly in the creek, but the creek is generally only an inch or two deep. An added bonus, when compared to other Southern Utah slot canyons like Peek-a-Boo/Spooky, The Narrows, or Antelope Canyon, it feels remote and secluded—you will likely only see a dozen or so other friendly hikers along the way.
What Makes it Great
This is a gorgeous, easy hike with a minimal commitment of less than three hours. During that time, you’ll enjoy shapely walls and delicate colors in the Navajo sandstone as it closes in around you. You’ll also peer down at lovely rocks that the orange-tinted creek has smoothed over time.
To get into the canyon, you simply walk into it from your car. There are no ropes or ladders needed, and throughout the hike there are no obstacles (except one spot, but there is a way to walk around it).
As you venture into the narrows, you’ll start to hike over and on top of the creek. At the onset of the canyon, the walls are less than 25 feet tall, yet only approximately eight feet wide. However, the walls quickly grow to tower 100 feet above you and become less narrow. Colored with desert varnish, they stand to complement the sand and pebbles of the trail.
Continue along the narrows, which will dissipate at around 1.3 miles in. The trail along the creek continues for 2.4 miles at which point you will turn around.
What You’ll Remember
The smooth and curvaceous rock walls of the narrows, which have been carved by thousands of years of flash floods; the color and the texture of said walls; feeling small as the narrows tower 100 feet above you; your desire to now become a slot canyon junkie.
Who is Going to Love It
Anyone who likes hugs, because slot canyons and narrows are like hugs from Mother Nature. Anyone who wants to experience slot canyons for the first time, or slot canyon veterans who want a mellow afternoon with a big pay off.
GPS Coordinates, Parking, and Regulations
Willis Creek Slot Canyon is accessible year-round. Most people will enjoy visiting the area from late-March through September. Unlike many of the exposed attractions in the surrounding area, Willis Creek is cool and a mostly-shaded hike, which makes it great even during hot summer afternoons. The area is dog-friendly.
There are no fees or permits needed to hike here. Skutumpah Road is accessible to passenger vehicles, but may be impassable when wet or it is has not been recently graded.