Paria Canyon: Steamboat Rock
Sometimes thought of as a taboo area because of the proximity to North and South Coyote Buttes Special Permit Areas, the region east of these pristine zones is accessible without need of special permits. Nonetheless, because of unrestricted access, these areas need to be respected as if they are being monitored and preserved in the same way. Steamboat Rock is another of the special gems that dot this amazing region.
There are several ways to access Steamboat Rock; one of these accesses is from the south as if entering South Coyote Buttes Cottonwood Teepees. Steamboat Rock lies in Utah and the easiest access is made from Arizona through deep and sandy roads in the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. The drive will end just a short distance south of Steamboat Rock, leaving an easy .75 mile hike, on mostly level terrain, to arrive at the southern base of Steamboat. It is a 3.5 mile hike to circumnavigate the entire butte. The southwestern end of Steamboat Rock is mostly weathered sandstone domes of low elevation with several interesting formations. Walking along the northwestern flank crosses several washes with Buckskin Gulch winding its way through the desert just below. Once at the northeastern tip, views of the Paria Plateau unfold in the east. In the distance, to the south, White Pocket is clearly visible. Walking back along the southeast base of Steamboat Rock, small coves of fragile fins and crossbedded formations lead to some fine hoodoos. By keeping a keen eye, one will also see a small window in the rock high up before arriving once again near the southwestern end.
Steamboat Rock at a Glance
Directions to Steamboat Rock - From Kanab, drive 40 miles east on Highway 89. The turn onto House Rock Valley Road is located on the south side of the road (right side driving from Kanab). It is located between mile markers 25 and 26, before a sweeping left hand curve in the road, prior to a guard rail protecting the curve. Slow down and turn right just before the guard rail. This north-south running road is House Rock Valley Road. The road soon becomes dirt and may be impassible if wet. Continue past the Wire Pass Trailhead (8.5 miles from Highway 89) to the Utah - Arizona state line (10 miles from Highway 89). This is the border of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah and the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona. Keep driving south for another 6.5 miles past the Stateline Campground and look for the dirt road that turns left and to Lone Tree Reservoir. Turn left at Lone Tree Reservoir and follow the main, sandy 4WD road to the east for 2.4 miles to the Paw Hole Trailhead. Beyond Paw Hole the road becomes even deeper sand and may require tire deflation to prevent becoming stuck. There will be a gate at .7 mile, and a second gate at .9 mile after passing Paw Hole. Close the gates after passing through them.
At 2 miles past the second gate and just before arriving at the windmill at Poverty Ranch (the windmill will be in view several hundred yards before actually arriving ) there will be a road on the left. This is the road to Cottonwood Teepees, Cove and Spring in the South Coyote Buttes Special Permit area. Reset the trip meter here. It will be necessary to turn left (north) on this road and follow the main road, ignoring side roads, for 1.5 miles. At 1.5 miles from the intersection near the windmill the road comes to a fence, gate and sign depicting the South Coyote Buttes Special Permit Area. The sign states that a permit is required to enter, however according to the BLM office, it is alright to pass through the gate to access the road immediately on the right after entering without a permit. Turn right on this seldom used road and travel northeast. The road is not used very much and is even deeper sand than the road that was previously traveled. At this point tire deflation may become necessary. Follow this road for the next few miles. On the way remnants of ranching (water tanks and water lines) are passed and driven over. After passing a second water tank at 4.8 miles, on the left, Steamboat Rock is apparent. At 5.2 miles stop and park. The hike begins.
There is no formal trail established, but it will soon be evident that wandering and exploring is the main fare. There is much to see, but be sure to walk lightly and avoid the fragile rock fins so that others may enjoy natures wonders too.
GPS Coordinates WGS84 Datum
Stateline Campground - between Arizona and Utah
Coyote Buttes Special Permit Offices
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Written by the authors of the book: Favorite Hikes in and around Zion National Park