Grand Staircase Family Guide
Top Family Day Hikes in the Grand Staircase Region
The Grand Staircase region is remote and rugged, but that doesn't mean it isn't a good option for families looking for adventure. The area is spectacular and contains the most extensive network of slot canyons in Utah. Most of the hikes are off-trail, following dry, easily passable washes through some of the finest narrows in the region. Some of the best easy and moderate day hikes are included here — but note, these hikes are remote and mostly accessible only by dirt roads, which may be impassable after a storm. Check local conditions at the visitor centers or better yet, hire a Kanab-area guide for the best and safest experience.
The extreme heat of summer and the unrelenting sun pose serious hazards to hikers. Any seasoned desert hiker knows you cannot fight the desert heat, but you can adapt to it. In summer, hike from the pre-dawn hours until early morning, then rest in the shade during the hottest part of the day. Resume your travels after 5 p.m., when shadows begin to fill the canyons.
As always when hiking in the desert, it’s important to bring enough water — assume there won’t be any place to fill up along the way. And as always, it’s a good idea to stop in at a visitor center and discuss your hiking plans with the folks working there. You are sure to get some good tips and assistance finding a hike that suits your abilities.
Also check out the top five adventure hikes in the Grand Staircase region.
- Willis Creek Narrows: 4.8 miles or less. On this fine short hike there is no particular destination other than the narrows of Willis Creek. Go as far as you wish; you will find the best narrows along the first 1.3 miles.
- Lick Wash: 8 miles. Exciting narrow passages in the upper reaches of Lick Wash give way to a wider canyon below, embraced by the bold White Cliffs of Navajo Sandstone studded with tall pines, rising 600 to 800 feet to the mesa rims above.
- Kodachrome Basin State Park — Panorama Trail: 5.4 miles. Punctuated by the white chimneys of sand pipes, and the orange cliffs, spires, and fin-like ridges of Entrada Sandstone that dominate the basin, this is one of the more spectacular areas in southern Utah, a land renowned for its unique landscapes.
- Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch: 3.4 miles. This is an excellent easy hike through Wire Pass into the famous gorge of Buckskin Gulch in the Paria Canyon Wilderness area. You can extend the day hike as far as you wish by exploring Buckskin’s narrows either up- or downcanyon and extremely well-prepared backpackers can take on the whole thing.
- The Toadstools: 1.5-mile round-trip. A land of balanced rock formations which look like mushrooms, The Toadstools is an enchanting wilderness area stroll between Kanab and Lake Powell that's fun for the whole family.