Bull Valley and Willis Narrows

For folks who are visiting the western part of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument near Bryce Canyon National Park or who don’t mind taking a couple hour drive from Boulder, several wonderful slot canyons to canyon narrows are located beyond Cannonville. Bull Valley is very steep and deep (over 400’ high canyon walls in places) canyon narrows with some slot canyon sections that are very magical. It can be cool in the shade of the canyon. The size of some of the chockstones that have fallen into the canyon is very impressive. I don’t recommend this hike if pools below pour-offs are full of water and/or gooey green mud, unless you are ready for a slippery swim. Although the cliffs are generally white to gray; in places lichens color them bright green and yellow. Ponderosa pines and fir trees find the cool, relatively moist canyon to their liking and cling to the canyon walls. The Skutumpah Road crosses the canyon and is built upon chockstones that were pushed into the slot canyon to serve as a precarious roadbed. The wreckage of an old truck is also wedged among the rocks, memory of fatal accident back in 1954. The climb out is a steep scramble, then a walk along the canyon rim provide impressive views from above.

If you still have energy, Willis is a kinder gentler canyon narrows in places narrowing into a slot canyon. It is very beautiful being not so closed-in as Bull Valley. Willis Creek that has water year-round, so it is just delightful. Generally a sand bottomed canyon that is easy walking. It is an in-out route, we would turn back when you feel we have gone half way. The drive over Highway 12 is a bonus scenic drive over the Kaiparowitz Plateau and then turning to follow the Paria River drainage with beautiful rocks of the Entrada Sandstone (of Arches fame) that color Kodachrome Basin State Park.