Dogs No Dogs
River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers
Free backcountry permits are required for all overnight trips and can be obtained at the visitor centers. Fires are prohibited. Dispersed/at-large camping in vehicles is prohibited within the park but allowed on nearby BLM and USFS land.
Among the tall cliffs of Hall Mesa on the east and the sheer slickrock slopes of the Waterpocket Fold on the west, this hike through the Halls Creek drainage (a.k.a. Grand Gulch) travels through the park’s southern range. Along the way, hikers can investigate a number of side canyons that connect with the Halls Creek drainage.
At the isolated southern end of the park is Halls Creek Narrows
, a deeply carved canyon in the white Navajo sandstone. An enduring stream and cover from the towering canyon walls create a sanctuary in the middle of the surrounding desert.
The round-trip, lollipop hike is best done as a multi-day (3-4 day) trip. The route is not an official or maintained trail by the park. Conditions, including obstacles in the canyons, change frequently due to weather, flash floods, rockfall, and other hazards.
Routefinding, navigation, and map-reading skills are critical for this unsigned route. Do not rely solely on the unofficial route markers (rock cairns) as they are not managed by the National Park Service and therefore may not indicate the route in this description.
Need to Know
The route is mostly unmarked and having a topographic map is highly recommended for navigation.The route is extremely hot in summer. Water can typically be found at the Fountain Tanks and in the Narrows.
Use caution in narrow canyons, especially during flash flood season (typically July–September). Making your way through the narrows requires wading through water that might be deep enough to require swimming.
The hike starts at Halls Creek Overlook. From this dramatic vista, a steep trail dotted with rock cairns descends 800 feet over 1.2 miles to the Halls Creek drainage. Pay attention to the surroundings as there are no signs that show where this route heads out of the canyon. This is especially important for the return journey when you have to turn onto the trail heading back up to your vehicle.
The rest of the route is mostly unmarked but is more obvious as you continue along the wash down the canyon (south) to the narrows. Look for an old wagon trail that followed this same path and can be seen in a number of places. This wagon path makes for an easier route through the wash.
At the narrows, Halls Creek leaves its logical path down the wide canyon that separates the Waterpocket Fold and Halls Mesa and cuts into the Navajo Sandstone on the west side of the canyon. The change is immediate and dramatic. Look for a large stand of cottonwoods that is near the entrance to the narrows.
For the next 3.8 miles, the creek winds through a deep, narrow canyon that will always require some wading in water. The depth of the pools can change depending on the precipitation and season. Flash floods regularly wash out the sediment, which leaves pools that may require wading or swimming.
Shared By: Zander Göpfert