Round Valley Draw: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Round Valley Draw is a slot canyon that does not require major equipment, logistics and it not not have a physically demanding approach. Narrow passageways, fluted dryfalls, multi-colored swirling, and striated weather worn sandstone formations are the faire for this moderately strenuous canyoneering experience. A couple quarts of water, some snacks, a map, some sticky-soled shoes and maybe a short chunk of rope, and of course a camera will pretty much sum up the needs for this short loop hike.
Round Valley Draw
Driving Instructions - Drive north on Highway 89, from Mt. Carmel Junction, to Route 12 and turn right toward Bryce Canyon National Park. Continue past Bryce, through Red Canyon, passing the small community of Tropic. Once in Cannonville turn right onto Cottonwood Road. The road will be paved for the first 6.4 miles, passing over the Paria River at about the 3 mile mark and then arriving at Kodachrome State Park. Cottonwood Road will now be dirt for the next 6.6 miles until it arrives at Round Valley Draw and GSENM Road #422 or as it is also called: Rushbed Road. This is where it will be necessary to turn right. Travel this high clearance vehicle road for 1.6 miles as it follows the wash bottom and then climbs south out of the wash bottom toward the trailhead and register perched just 50 yards out of the bottom of Round Valley Draw. If you have a 4WD it is possible to forgo parking at the official trailhead and continue west down the wash for another .75 miles to a large pine tree where the road ends. This option puts hikers directly above the start of the slot canyon.
Round Valley Draw - The slot canyon begins immediately with a 6' chimney downclimb followed by another 15' downclimb. For the next 1.25 miles Round Valley Draw opens and closes from a mere 18' wide to over 100' wide. There are several short down-climbs where lesser experienced hikers may desire a handline. The bottom of the canyon contains a large amount of clay content in various places, so recent rains may make travel wet (maybe wading) and very slippery. Be sure to take your time and take photos, as this is a truly beautiful Southern Utah slot canyon.
GPS Coordinates WGS84 Datum
Exit - After a dark section of the hike, the canyon will open up somewhat and there will be a fir tree on the left and some pinion trees on the right, at the mouth of a canyon, entering from hikers right. This is the exit for the day hike.
Note: The authors thought this would be an easy canyon to turn around and climb back out, but we did not try it because we wanted to check out the exit. It does look like the fun way to exit however!
The travel up the side canyon is steep and loose but well marked and worn. After .25 miles of climbing, a plateau is reached. At the top is a road that can be followed for a very short distance before steering east across the plateau keeping closer to the rim of Round Valley Draw. Contour around a small side canyon and soon you will be confronted with a large canyon - the North Fork of Round Valley Draw. Pick the easiest travel into the bottom of this large canyon and then travel toward the 20' high hoodoos on the opposite side. Skirt around the south side of the hoodoos and continue east and work toward the bottom of Round Valley Draw. If your vehicle was parked at the pine tree rather than the trailhead and register, then it will come into view very soon. Find the weakness that allows crossing down and over to your vehicle. Total round-trip distance for this hike from the pine tree parking is 2.75 miles and 4.25 miles if parking at the trailhead and register. Total descent through the canyon is about 250', but the ascent out is about 400' and then a descent of 150' back down to the vehicle.
Grand Staircase-Escalante Roads - Pristine and remote describes the roadways within the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Highway 89 defines the southern border and Highway 12 accesses the northern side. In addition to Highways 12 and 89, there are 959 miles of open road in the Grand Staircase. Glendale, Utah, located on Highway 89, northeast of Zion National Park, connects the east side of Zion to Bryce Canyon via the Glendale Bench Road and the scenic backway, Skutumpah Road. To the north, Highway 12 connects Tropic and Boulder, Utah. At the southern end of the monument, roads connect Kanab, Utah and Page, Arizona. The most popular roads in the Grand Staircase are probably Skutumpah Road accessed either by the Glendale Bench Road, near the east entrance to Zion, or the Johnson Canyon Road near Kanab, both leading to Kodachrome Basin near Bryce Canyon. All interior roads except for portions of the Burr Trail and Johnson Canyon Road are unpaved and may be impassible if wet.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument - UTAH!
History of the Thunderbird
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This is my new favorite quote:
"I don't know who Tanya Milligan is, but I mean www.zionnational-park.com
It's a better site than the NPS's anyway."
Written by the authors of the book: Favorite Hikes in and around Zion National Park