Owl and Fish Creek Canyons Trail

Mexican Hat, Utah 84531

Owl and Fish Creek Canyons Trail

Owl and Fish Creek Canyons Trail Professional Review and Guide

"Southeastern Utah has one of the largest concentrations of Anasazi Indian ruins in the United States, and the area around Owl Creek and Fish Creek is one of the best places to see them. Most of the ruins in these two canyons are, unfortunately, located high on the cliffs in inaccessible alcoves. They are not generally obvious to the casual observer, and many hikers complete the loop having seen only one or two ruins. There is one excellent site, however, which is right on the trail in Owl Creek Canyon, so everyone can be assured of seeing at least one ruin site.

The ranger station recommends that hikers go down Owl Creek Canyon first, primarily because the trail down from the rim of Fish Creek Canyon is rather steep and rocky, and it is easier to climb out of that canyon with a pack than to climb into it. Personally, however, I feel it is best to go down Fish Creek first and exit through Owl Creek Canyon. I prefer that direction, first, because the trail in upper Fish Creek Canyon is sometimes vague, and one can easily miss the turn where the trail starts up to the rim. Second, there is more to see in Owl Creek Canyon, and I like to save the best for last."

Owl and Fish Creek Canyons Trail Reviews

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You must obtain a permit from the Kane Gulch ranger station 5 miles prior to the trail head to camp overnight in these canyons. This is a moderate hike with the drop into and the climb out of these canyons being strenuous. I would recommend walking the 1.7 miles to the drop in point at the top of Fish Creek canyon and using a rope to lower your pack 10 feet down then carefully follow the cairns to make your way down to the canyon floor. There are many places to camp in both canyons but most of the water seems to be towards the top of both canyons in October. Bring binoculars if you want to see the bulk of the cliff dwelling ruins or wall art. Although the trip can be done with only 2 nights in the canyon I would recommend 3 nights if you really want to explore the canyon. Map skills are also important for this trip as the trail can be a bit questionable at times.

Owl and Fish Creek Canyons Trail Photos

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Trail Information

Mexican Hat
Nearby City
1,340 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
11 hours
Spring, summer, fall
6,180 feet
Trailhead Elevation
6,180 feet
Top Elevation
San Juan Resource Area, Bureau of Land Management, in Monticello
Local Contacts
Snow Flat Spring Cave (USGS), Bluff NW (USGS)
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018