Round Valley Draw & Willis Creek

As I have done for the past couple of years, I took another great trip to southern Utah’s great red rock country. My friends and I again traveled to the Grant Staircase-Escalante National Monument for some fun slot canyon hikes.

Our original plan was to visit three different slot, but we were only able to visit two of them.

We first arrived at our camping spot around 10:00pm on Jun 10th. It was a great night, and one worth taking the time to explore. Actually, I just wanted to find the geocache that was located at the mouth of the first slot canyon that we were going to hike.

So we headed to the mouth of Round Valley Draw late at night. The cache was easily found, and the it was need to see how different the canyons look in the dark, than in the day time. After making our way back, we set up camp and slept for the night.

The next morning after a quick breakfast of pancakes, bacon, and eggs, we headed back to Round Valley Draw. Perhaps the best part of this hike was a couple of fun descents. We started out with an esay, 10-foot drop (approximately). Then we enjoyed a casual stroll until the next drop which was a little more technical, but was still easy (especially with the help of the rope that is available there).

After that hike it was fairly casual until we reached the exit. The exit proved to be the hardest part of this hike. It wasn’t technical, as much as it was physically exerting. But it ultimately resulted in a beautiful view back into the canyon. The hike back to the mouth of the canyon was a easy, and it provided a couple on great views of the wild flowers and a couple of hoodoos.

We finished this hike just around lunch time, so we went to Grosvenor’s Arch. This was great for me, because it also features a great Earth Cache to find. We had decided earlier that this would be a good place for lunch. We didn’t realized that there were actually picnic tables and a rest room there, so it provided us with more of a reprieve than we had planned.

While we ate lunch, we were entertained by a Wester Scrub-jay who had perfected the art of performing for food. If I had been in downtown Salt Lake, I would have expected him to be playing a musical instrument with a hat on the ground asking for tips.

the weather started to turn a bit, and we started to wonder if we should be in slot canyons at this point. So, we went to Kodakrome Basin State Park Visitor Center and asked them for a weather report. Things weren’t positive.

However, we were determined and we wanted to see what things would be like. So, we headed to the Willis Creek trail head. The weather started to look a little better, and I was determined to get the two geocaches located in the this slot canyon. So, we unwisely pursued our goals.

The canyon was very beautiful, and in my opinion (most of our group disagreed with me) was the best part of our weekend. I loved having the creek flowing by as we walked, and I thought that the lines and formations (including arch near our turn around point) were better than what Round Valley Draw had to offer.

Just as we were approaching the second geocache available in this canyon, the weather really started to turn nasty. Our group was determined that we should turn back. But I encourage them to go another few hundred feet for the cache and they agreed. When we not near the coords and as the weather got worse, I decided that the cache was going to require more work than the time we had could offer. So, we turned around.

We made it out of the canyon just fine. But the weather really wasn’t acting friendly. We decided that before we took the next trip the next morning we should at least see what we are up against. So, we headed down the road from Willis Creek to Bull Valley Gorge. We managed to see the truck that has become a part of the landscape, and to get a little picture of what the canyon would require.

The whole time we had in the back of our minds that there was a good chance that we would not be making this hike. On our way out of the area, the rain really started to poor. And we were thinking that it might be in our best interest to get a motel for the night. But instead we headed to a local joint, and had a burger for dinner.

Just about the time we finish dinner the rain subsided a bit, and we decided to go find a place to camp. We found beautiful site where we set up camp, started a fire, shot off a few round from a 9mm hand gun, then went to sleep.

It rained most of the night and by morning we had decided that it wouldn’t be safe to attempt bull Valley Gorge. Which was too bad, because it was probably going to be the most fun part of our weekend. However, safety must play out when it comes to slot canyons and rain.

So, we grabbed a bite to eat at Ruby’s near Bryce Canyon, then headed home. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that I left my camera at the trail head register for Willis Creek. So, I made a few phone calls, and the great men and women from Kodachrome Basin and Grand Staircase-Escalante worked with me and managed to get my camera back to me. Big pat on the back to them, and the honest citizen who turned my camera in.

Despite the bad weather and the lost camera, it was a great trip, and I look forward to my trip next year. Hope you enjoy the pictures and my retelling of the story as much as I enjoyed the adventure.

Round Valley Draw Entrance
Round Valley Draw Entrance
Round Valley Draw as It Opens Up
Round Valley Draw as It Opens Up
Flower On the Exit from Round Valley Draw
Flower On the Exit from Round Valley Draw
Top of Exit Looking Back at Round Valley Draw
Top of Exit Looking Back at Round Valley Draw
Hoodoos Near Round Valley Draw
Hoodoos Near Round Valley Draw
Grosvenor Arch
Grosvenor Arch
Western Scrub-jay Who Entertained Us at Lunch
Western Scrub-jay Who Entertained Us at Lunch

Willis Creek
Willis Creek

Unnamed Arch Inside Willis Creek
Unnamed Arch Inside Willis Creek

So, What do you think?