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.
We made it to the trail head, quickly set up our campsite, and soon headed along Willis Creek’s sandy, rocky wash bottom into a lovely, cool slot canyon.
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)