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A beautiful, pristine wilderness with many archeological sites.

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6,279' 1,914 m


4,858' 1,481 m


1,992' 607 m


1,995' 608 m



Avg Grade (3°)


Max Grade (33°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Commonly Backpacked · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Permit needed. No need to go to the Ranger station. There is a permit box at the trailhead you can fill out, deposit your money and then put the permit in your front window.


Great canyon hiking with incredible scenery, lots of solitude, and interesting archeological sites.

Need to Know

Bring multiple methods of sanitizing water. You'll want to get the dirt out as well as kill bacteria.


This loop route can be done in either direction, depending on what you'd like to see first and what you may want to save for last. The description here heads down Fish Canyon and back up Owl Canyon.

The trail to Fish Creek starts in the parking lot and meanders through a piñon and juniper forest for about 1.7 miles to the canyon rim. Follow the few cairns that exist to begin your drop into the canyon. At a 15-foot drop, you’ll want a rope to lower your packs and to help you scramble down the rocks. When we were there, a rope was in place, but be sure to have your own.

Throughout the entire outing, cairns seemed to have been placed to let you know whether you had made the correct turn, rather than to guide you. This area is no exception and the route down to the canyon bottom and the creek is difficult to follow. In addition, there is lots of loose rock, dirt and scree, so be careful. In about two miles, you’ll reach the canyon floor.

The trail, which is still poorly marked, follows the creek for the most part, except when it skirts pour-offs. Once the canyon starts to widen and you find yourself on slickrock, there will be several nice places to camp. We stopped for the first night 5.8 miles from the parking lot.

On our trip, there was water in Fish Creek for the first couple of miles, then a dry area, and then water all the way until the final half mile before the confluence. This will vary and be sure to check with the Ranger Station and to always top off your water when you can.

The second day we continued on for 11 miles, heading down the rest of Fish Canyon. You'll meet a confluence where the two canyons join, and this marks the turning point. It will feel like you're making a right, and you'll head up Owl Canyon until the spot where the climbing begins. The first several miles of Owl Canyon are without water – you’ll have to reach at least Neville’s Arch before finding any.

There are supposed to be some campsites near Neville’s Arch, but we never found any. Further on, we found two, but they had already been taken by other visitors heading the reverse direction down Owl Canyon. Plan ahead for what you'll do in this case, but do not attempt a climb out of Owl late in the day.

Owl Canyon becomes very difficult as you begin the climb out. There is a lot of loose rock, many boulders to navigate, and sharp detours to avoid pour-offs. Pay attention to the few cairns that are there, but it is also good to have a compass and map at this point to make sure you don’t accidentally head into a side canyon. The Hiking Project mobile app will also help to keep you oriented.

By all accounts, the ascent should have been two miles long (the loop is supposed to be 17 miles) and should have taken about two hours. According to my GPS, the loop was 21.6 miles and the ascent took us over four hours. Once at the top, follow the slickrock back to the parking lot, a quarter of a mile away.

Flora & Fauna

Lots of beautiful wildflowers.

History & Background

Keep an eye high on the cliffs to find ancient cliff dwellings.


Shared By:

Bob King with improvements by Rob Kendrick

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 12 votes


in Cedar Mesa


  4.5 from 12 votes
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Above Large Pool in Owl Canyon
Apr 2, 2018 near Blanding, UT
Owl Creek Canyon remains beautiful after the second major pour-off.
Jun 4, 2017 near Blanding, UT
A towering formation above Fish Creek Canyon.
Jun 6, 2017 near Blanding, UT
Owl Creek Canyon is spectacularly beautiful any time of year.
Jun 4, 2017 near Blanding, UT
Nevills Arch stands high in the cliffs above.
Jun 4, 2017 near Blanding, UT
Fish Creek, beyond the beaver inhabited area.
Jun 6, 2017 near Blanding, UT


Current Trail Conditions

All Clear 58 days ago
Add Your Check-In


Oct 16, 2022
Taylor May Lewis
did this in 3 days 2 nights 17.1mi — 72h 50m
Feb 5, 2022
Steph Giebeig
Went fish then owl. I think this direction made more sense with a dog 20mi
Oct 7, 2021
Peder Bisbjerg
Wonderful loop with my daughter, we went CCW and had no complaints. 17.1mi — 10h 00m
Nov 5, 2020
Matt Hage
Oct 9, 2019
Valerie Norton
Bit long for a day, but managed: https://valhikes.blogspot.com/2019/10/fish-and-owl-loop.html
May 24, 2019
Scott Henderson
Amazing and beautiful backpacking trip. Had planned for 3 days but only ended up doing 2 20mi — 48h 00m
Nov 13, 2018
Bogie Dumitrescu
Sep 29, 2018
Stephen Brown

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