sulfur creek narrows

Sulfur Creek Narrows

Sulphur Creek is not an “official” Capitol Reef trail, but is an official route. It is one of the more stunning hikes in the park for those interested in geology. This hike has the distinction of hiking through the oldest rock in the park.

This hike involves quite a bit of wading. If doing it in early spring or late fall, wear heavy wool or neoprene socks to stay warm. Under normal conditions, you will be in mostly ankle deep water with a few spots to knee deep. After recent rains, or in early spring, it may flow deeper. You should check the flow at the visitor center to make sure it is reasonable before starting out. This is not the hike to do if storms are threatening.

Sulfur Creek Narrows

The Sulphur Creek hike is well enough known to have an NPS sign (‘Visitor Center, 5 miles’) at the entrance to the side ravine used to reach the main canyon. This location is directly opposite the parking area for the Chimney Rock Trail, 3 miles (by road) west of the park headquarters and 4 miles from the western park boundary. A profusion of footprints along the ravine suggest the hike is quite popular – the route follows the sandy floor of the drainage as it twists and turns through the dark brown, ledgy rock of the Moenkopi Formation, deepening slowly with just one minor dryfall, and joining the creek in a rather wide part of its canyon, here about 250 feet deep.

The gorge stays relatively wide for 1.5 miles downstream though it deepens steadily, and by the time it passes under the Goosenecks Viewpoint (reached by a side road off UT 24), the cliffs are 600 feet tall, and fairly sheer. At ground level, some parts of the gorge are bordered by smooth, curving cliff faces, along which the water flows, though most places are sandy and bushy.


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