Cottonwood Creek is a tributary of the Paria River and over the course of ages the creek has carved its way down through colorful sandstone streaked with desert varnish. The final narrow gorge it goes through, before it opens up and begins a long straight journey to meet up with the Paria river, is a wonderful place to explore. The hike through the Cottonwood Canyon Narrows is about 3 miles round trip. You pass through a narrow canyon bound by Navajo Sandstone walls rising 200-300 feet above you. Beautiful old gnarled Pinyon and Juniper trees and cling to ledges along the canyon and in some places even narrower slot canyons enter the main canyon. One could spend all day exploring this place!
From Hwy 12 in Cannonville take the Cottonwood Canyon Road South which is signed for "Kodachrome Basin State Park." Set your odometer. After 7 miles the pavement ends and this road isn't recommended for travel if it is raining. It has a clay surface in spots and it come become nearly impassable when wet. A high clearance vehicle is recommended at all times and 4wd wouldn't hurt, either.
Stay on this road, passing the turn off for Grosvenor Arch. Soon you begin following the Cockscomb, where the rock layers are turned nearly vertical. At about 20.5 miles you will reach a small saddle between two steep grades and near some very colorful uplifted rock layers. Here there is a small parking turnout on the left (east) side of the road. Park here.
You can also start from Hwy 89 in the south and go north on the Cottonwood Canyon Road. Set your odometer at the Hwy and you will come upon the aforementioned turnout at about 25.5 miles. Again, this road is unpaved and becomes impassable in inclement weather.
Opposite this turnout you will find a brown BLM post marking the boundary of a wilderness study area. From there a path leads into the narrow wash. It is a very steep but short path to get into the canyon. In order to get down it, I tried to climb down it but then just ended up sitting on my butt and scooted and slid down. This is the only real difficult part of the hike.
Same for the Grand Staircase-Escalante NM
Kodachrome Basin State Park is the nearest developed camping area. This is a very nice campground with lots of nearby hiking trails, and best of all, they have showers! Click here
for more info on Kodachrome Basin.
You can also disperse camp in most areas unless otherwise signed and after registering at any of the monument visitor centers. Remember to follow Leave no Trace ethics, pack out what you pack in, and bring your own water.
External LinksGrand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Glen Canyon Natural History Association
National Weather Service Local Forecasts
Recommended BookHiking Grand Staircase-Escalante & the Glen Canyon Region
by Ron Adkison
For more information, please contact
Cannonville Visitor Center
Address: 10 Center St.
Cannonville, UT, 84718
Summer Hours: 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
7 days a week
mid-March - mid-November
Winter Hours: Closed
mid-November - mid-March