OverviewOwl Creek Canyon sits in southeastern Utah’s Cedar Mesa Plateau. The magnificent Nevills Arch is the most prominent feature of the canyon. Owl Creek Canyon is usually hiked as a 2 day loop backpacking trip in combination with the nearby Fish Creek Canyon. An 11 mile day hike to Nevills Arch and back is also popular.
Getting ThereFrom the junction of Routes 95 and 261 in southeastern Utah, follow Route 261 five miles south to County Road 253 (between mile markers 27 and 28). Drive 5.2 miles on 253 to its end at the trailhead. Route 253 is unpaved. When I was in the area, I found it well graded and passable by most/any car. It is said to become impassable when wet.
Route DescriptionTrailhead Elevation: 6180 ft
Elevation at Nevills Arch viewpoint: 4950 ft
Roundtrip Hiking Distance: 11.2 miles
At the trailhead, head east until you reach a dry wash. Turn right and follow the wash a few hundred feet south to reach the edge of the canyon.
Pay close attention to cairns that take you down slickrock and boulder covered slopes.
Under an alcove on the right side, you will find some ruins.
Follow the cairns onto a slickrock pathway on the right side, down a steep slickrock slope to reach the bottom of the canyon.
You will find yourself at the junction of two branches of the canyon. Follow the bottom of the canyon beyond another junction. For the return trip, make sure you follow the correct branch (both times on right).
After 2.5 miles you will reach a big slickrock pour-off.
Turn left and follow a slickrock pathway north into a side canyon far above the bottom of the canyon.
Again pay attention to cairns to find the spot where you will make a switch back going down a boulder filled slope to reach the bottom of the side canyon.
A mile after the big pour-off, you will find yourself at the bottom of the main canyon again where you will reach another pour-off with a water pool below it.
Follow the cairns again on the left side on another boulder covered slope for some time a few tens of feet above the bottom of the canyon.
The path will eventually bring you down to the bottom of the canyon. Remember this spot for the return trip. The going will now be easy at the bottom of the wide canyon.
Nevills Arch will then come to view.