While camping in Red Canyon, we met up with a longtime friend, Marcel Robicheaux, a field leader with WinGate Wilderness Therapy Programs for Troubled Teens & Young Adults out of Kanab, Utah.
He told us about Willis Creek in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument (GSENM). It features a short hike into a slot canyon and has nearby dispersed camping. Sounded good to us, we have a self-contained RV and boondock (dry camp) frequently without hook-ups.
He also mentioned that getting to the Willis Creek trail head included traversing a 6.0-mile section of a dirt road that runs between a paved road about 3.0 miles south of Cannonville on Hwy. 12 and Kanab. Again, okay with us, the reason we have a four-wheel F-350 and slide-in camper is to have the option of getting off popular highways and onto the less-traveled rugged roads. I must confess, however, that on more than one occasion I held my breath when we slowed to below 2-mph as we climbed a few stretches of this dusty back country route.
It is an amazing experience to descent from a stark wind-swept world into the beautiful water-carved sandstone landscape. “It is a much more eye pleasing sight to me,” says Jimmy Smith, “than gazing up at sky-scrappers in lower Manhattan.”
“An easy canyon hike with several nice stretches of narrows. This is a good hike for families or casual hikers,” according to ‘Bureau of Land Management-Willis Creek’ for details on directions and map.
Camping cost: $0.
Photos: (From the top) Marcel Robicheaux adding to small rock sculptures in Willis Creek canyon. (Second) A section of the Skutumpah Road (500) between Cottonwood Road (400) and Willis Creek. (Third) Julianne G Crane and Jimmy Smith in slot canyon. (Marcel Robicheaux). (Below) Dispersed camping site near Willis Creek. (All images, except #3 by Julianne G. Crane)