East Zion Cabins
Zion RV Park
Zion National Park
Pink Sand Dunes
The Ultimate Southwest Vacation includes the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument!
Stay in Mt. Carmel Jct., the heart of the parks, and visit
the treasures of the Southwest.
Mileage: Mt. Carmel Jct.
Plan your Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument vacation
with our Utah and Arizona maps.
Zion Park 12 miles
Grand Staircase 9 miles
Sand Dunes 11 miles
Dixie Forest 22 miles
Cedar Breaks 45 miles
Red Canyon 47 miles
Coyote Butte 57 miles
Bryce Canyon 60 miles
North Rim 85 miles
Toroweap 90 miles
In these pages you will find insiders information on the best
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument hikes. This detailed
guide includes road maps, park maps, pictures, trail beta, backpacking, history,
fees, geology, flora, fauna, campgrounds, things for kids to do and even information
on the Grand Staircase hidden treasures.
Making summer memories in Utah's national monuments.
Directions: East Zion to Staircase
Salt Lake City, travel south on I15 to U-20. Exit on U-20. Turn south on U-89
and follow U-89 to Glendale.
From Las Vegas: Travel I15 to exit 16. Follow U-9 to the south
entrance of Zion and through to the east entrance. Take U-9 for 12 miles to
Mt. Carmel Jct, where U-89 and U-9 meet. Drive north on U-89 to Glendale.
From Glendale, turn right on 300 N. (Bench Road) Follow the
graded dirt road, Skutumpah, into the Grand Staircase. Remember the Grand Staircase
is a wild and remote place. The dirt roads may be impassible when wet and there
is usually no water, services or cell phone access. Skutumpah is a backway and
should only be traveled in dry conditions. Call for road and weather information
before travel: 435.644.4680
Bull Valley Trailhead
Drop down into Bull Valley Gorge
Bull Valley Gorge and Sheep Creek confluence
Willis Creek and Sheep Creek
Willis Creek Exit at Skutumpah Road
Willis Creek to Bull Valley Gorge Trailhead
How a truck came to be part of the Bull Valley Gorge bridge:
An interesting story about the 1950s truck wedged in the slot
canyon under the bridge is often told around the campfire. It's difficult to
see from the road, now camouflaged by tightly packed dirt and rocks. The truck
went over the bridge, but then rolled back into the gorge. Two of the men fell
out of the truck and the other was removed. Although wedged in 1954 the truck
remains, making up part of the narrow bridge. Be assured that as narrow as
the bridge is today, it's wider than when this truck drove over it.
How Bull Valley Gorge got its name:
The odd name, Bull Valley Gorge, is said to be given when the
area was used to raise cattle and bulls. The different types of animals were
kept apart by the gorge. The gorge drains southeast into the Paria River.
Residents of Glendale, one of the entrances into the Grand
Staircase, were victims of Indian raiders in 1866. Elijah Averett was killed
while crossing Averett Canyon during his hunt for the raiders.
As published in the
Today in Dixie Magazine
To offer corrections, updates, etc... or
for more information please visit the Zion
National Park Forum which includes the Grand Staircase
Bull Valley Gorge to Sheep Creek to Willis Creek
Bull Valley Gorge is a dimly lit canyon cut through the rugged and wild land of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Canyon walls spread allowing rays of sun to bathe the sandy ground as you leave the tight confines of the slot. The next leg of the journey takes you through Sheep Creek where the sound of flowing water eventually lures hikers toward an eerie, yellow glowing canyon. This is Willis Creek, a delightfully bright assemblage of sculpted rock embracing a gentle cobblestone stream that meanders through the serene passage. For those of you who want an easier hike, simply do this route backwards and go as far as you are comfortable with, then turn around and go back to the start at the trailhead for Willis Creek.
Photo Album: Bull
Valley Gorge Pictures
Trail Map: Bull Valley Gorge Map
Day hike: Long day hike (10 hours) or backpack.
Trail Distance: 15 trail miles and 2 more miles hiking
on the road back to the Bull Valley Gorge trailhead: Total 17 miles
Average hiking time: 10 hours
Trail Usage: Few venture into Bull Valley Gorge and
Sheep Creek, but Willis Creek will get a few hikers daily.
Difficulty: Moderate hiking with bouldering and down-climbing
required in Bull Valley Gorge. The gorge
can be difficult if there is water or if the weather is cold. As with all slot
canyons, conditions can change and the slot may require technical skills and
Sun Exposure: Full sun in the last section of Bull
Valley Gorge and in Sheep Creek. Carry at
least 1 gallon of water per person in the summer.
Required for overnight camping, but they are free and easy to obtain. Just fill
out the form at the trailhead or at any GSENM visitor center.
Trail Conditions: Bull Valley Gorge is often dry in
the summer. After a rain expect wet conditions, slick mud and pools to navigate.
The rest of the year if there is water in the slot it will be cold and
require the use of a wetsuit. Sheep Creek gets some drainage from year-round
Trailhead: Bull Valley Gorge
Trailend: Willis Creek
Best Season: Summer. Winter and spring when snow is
melting on Skutumpah Road the road might be impassable. Bull
Valley Gorge can contain very cold water.
Off the beaten path: Yes
Restrooms: Glendale, Utah and Cannonville, Utah.
Water: Willis Creek runs year round and it can be
used if filtered. Take care since cattle graze in the area. Sheep Creek will
often have run-off from Willis Creek
Bull Valley Gorge - Sheep Creek - Willis Creek
Getting to Skutumpah Road - If you are driving from St. George, you can go through Zion National Park and then take Highway 89 north to Glendale. Turning right on 300 N. (Bench Road) and follow the graded dirt road to where it intersects with Johnson Canyon and Skutumpah Roads. There is an information kiosk at the junction. The other option is to take Highway 389 out of Hurricane to Fredonia, then continue east on Highway 89 toward Page, Arizona. Locate Johnson Canyon Road, which will be on the left side of the highway about 8.5 miles east of Kanab. Turn and follow the road until the paved road ends where it intersects with Skutumpah Road.
Skutumpah Road to Bull Valley Gorge - Take Skutumpah Road at the intersection and continue 15 miles, passing Lick Wash on the right, then drive another 10 miles to Bull Valley Gorge. There are no signs, but look for the narrow wooden bridge that stretches over the gorge. If you continue to drive on Skutumpah Road another 1.8 miles you will be at Willis Creek where your hike will end.
Flash floods dramatically rearrange obstacles in this gorge, so be aware that deep pools of cold water and waterfalls or dry falls may be present. Wear sticky soled shoes and bring a 50' section of rope or 1" tubular webbing.
Trailhead - Park by the bridge then hike up canyon staying on the right side of the chasm to locate the registration box. Stay along the edge until you find a shallow place to climb down into the canyon. Don't drop in too soon or you will miss a spectacular section of narrows. Most of the down climbs should be fairly easy, but it's always safer to have a climber or experienced canyoneer in the group.
Bull Valley Gorge - The gray striated rock of this dimly lit earthen crevice are tall, fluted and spectacular. If you are lucky there might be a stream of water forming puddles as it moves down the wash. Look up to where the 100 foot walls open to about 30 feet wide to see a relic, a 1954 pickup truck, wedged into the slot making up a portion of the bridge. Not far past the bridge is a tributary on the right filled with trees and another on the left. At about the 2 mile mark there are large juniper and fir trees growing on the sides of the canyon and soon two more side washes come into the gorge. The walls widen to about 400 yards and the rocky bottom gives way to clay and sand once you have traveled about 3 miles.
Sheep Creek - At 3.5 miles look for a large fin of rock up high and on the left side of the canyon, and notice the arch or small window. The gorge will bend around this large buttress making a dog leg turn to the east (left) and steer toward the confluence with the north-south running wash of Sheep Creek. A narrow slot will come into the gorge at about the 6 mile mark, where you will need to turn left and travel north into Sheep Creek. Follow the fairly level terrain for about 4 miles. It's hot in this section and there is little to no shade, but about midway through, a gentle flow of water trickles through the sandy wash.
Willis Creek - At 10 miles into the hike there should be a wilderness sign where another canyon intersects with Sheep Creek from the west. Follow the stream of water that has been present through Sheep Creek by turning left and you will begin the Willis Creek narrows. Horses and cows visit there, so don't drink without treating the water first. You will pass by Averett Creek, on the right, 1.3 miles from the Sheep Creek-Willis Creek confluence. The constricted walls of Willis Creek capture the afternoon sun where sunlit rock puts on a grand show for photographers in the 2.5 mile long passage. There are a couple of fun little waterfalls near the end of the trail that can be hiked around if needed. Skutumpah back to Bull Valley Gorge - Once at Skutumpah Road, turn left and walk 2 miles back to the Bull Valley Gorge trailhead and your vehicle. Initially the road is a gentle ascent, but then levels out once on top of the plateau.