Owl 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.
From 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:
Elevation at Nevills Arch viewpoint:
Roundtrip Hiking Distance:
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.
Edge of 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.
Native American ruin
Follow the cairns onto a slickrock pathway on the right side, down a steep slickrock slope to reach the bottom of the canyon.
|Slickrock walkway |
|Floor 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.
Slickrock pathway into side 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.
|Side canyon floor
|Side canyon floor |
|Side canyon floor
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.
|Pool and second pour-off |
|Pool and second pour-off
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.
Above the canyon floor
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.
|Nevills Arch |
You must pay at the self pay station at the trailhead. In 2017, the fee was $2.00 a day.