Owl Creek Canyon

Owl and Fish Creek Canyons are located east of Utah highway 261, south of Natural Bridges National Monument. Owl Creek runs roughly east by southeast, and eventually empties into Fish Creek, which comes down from the northwest. The two canyons make an interesting loop trip for backpackers. The trail is relatively little used for a number of reasons: it is somewhat isolated, located down 5 miles of graded dirt road, is a bit more strenuous than other trails in the area, especially as regards entry and exit, and is to a degree overshadowed by the proximity of the Grand Gulch Primitive Area, located across the highway to the west. For this reason, it is more pristine than the more popular segments of Grand Gulch.

We made this trip in the fall of 2000. Although October is the dry season in the southwest, and Y2K had been a year of drought, we had no trouble finding water in the canyon. Most of this water was very muddy; even after prefiltering with a coffee filter, we had to clean our ceramic filter several times for each quart of water we took from the stream. The only relatively clear water we found was at the last spring in Fish Canyon, just before the trail climbs out.

Descent to Owl Creek - In planning our vacations, Louise has a knack for picking ambitious trips for us right out of the starting gate! The climb down to Owl Creek involves a 1.5 mile scramble over boulder falls and pour-off pools. There were several steep drops where we found it necessary to remove our packs and hand them down. By the time we got down into Owl Creek, we were ready to make camp after only a couple of miles.
Handprint Pictographs - A short distance below the rim of the canyon we found this pictograph panel near a small set of ruins (see next photo). The Anasazi who had inhabited these canyons in pre-Colombian times were particularly prone to making these handprint panels near springs and seeps, although there was no water in this section of the canyon when we were there (early October).
Ruins - Rough masonry and mudded-plastered walls characterize these ruins, located a short distance below the rim of the canyon, before you reach Owl Creek proper.
Neville Arch pierces a sandstone fin jutting from the north wall of the canyon. The arch is located about 2.5 miles above the confluence of Owl and Fish creeks.
The terrain widens out a bit at the confluence of Owl and Fish creeks. The trail is somewhat sandy in this section of the canyon, but becomes firm again about a mile up Fish.

At this point you have arrived at the conflunce; the trip is completed by hiking up Fish Creek Canyon.