Willis Creek Canyon - Grand Staircase-Escalante NM, UT

On our way to Hole in the Rock Road from Page, AZ, Willis Creek Slot Canyon felt like a little oasis in the middle of the Escalante desert! The canyon is a short hike with clear, refreshing water and a beautiful section of narrows.


Hike Info

Elevation Change: 30 ft.

Trail Type: Out and back

Miles: 1.8 round-trip

Trailhead: Google Maps


Getting There

The dirt parking lot for Willis Creek Slot is off the BLM500 dirt road in the heart of Escalante. After turning east off the Highway 89, drive for 30 minutes on the Highway 12 till you reach Cannonville, UT. Turn south off the main Highway 12 onto Kodachrome Rd, and it's about a 30 minute drive to the trailhead.


The Hike

The hike is short and easy. We saw several families with children that loved playing on the unique sandstone rocks and in the mini waterfalls in the area before the hike.After parking in the dirt lot with several other cars, we crossed the dirt road to the start of the trail.

Sign to the trailhead across the dirt road

At the trailhead sign in

Theres a dirt trail that runs parallel to the creek, but you can also head straight into the creek whenever you want. The water is only a couple inches deep max in the river bed, and even with sneakers I was able to keep my feet dry the entire hike by navigating on strategically placed rocks in the creek. Once in the canyon, it doesn't take long to reach the picturesque narrows section. 

Also, if you follow the creek all the way upstream, you'll find a section of cascading waterfalls cutting sharply into the sandstone. It was really cool to see the dramatic start of the canyon and how the slot canyon was formed by the creek.

Where Willis Creek starts to cut into the sandstone

The beginning of  the narrows section

So gorgeous! Love the curves the creek has carved into the walls

So gorgeous! Love the curves the creek has carved into the walls


At the end of these narrows after 0.9 miles of hiking, the canyon walls open up quite a bit into a wash that you could follow to hit Sheep Creek. This is the usual turn around point for most hikers, and we turned around to head back to the car.