Tom’s Experience hiking thru Sulphur Creek:
One of the best back country hikes in Capitol Reef National Park is Sulphur Creek. This hike is an excellent introduction to canyoneering. It has waterfalls, steep cliff walls and you spend most of your time hiking through the river.
This is best done as a through hike starting at the Chimney Rock Trailhead and hiking down Sulphur Creek to the Capitol Reef Visitors Center. This will require a shuttle, but if you only have one car you can try to hitchhike or walk about 3 miles along the road between the two trailheads.
From the Chimney Rock Trailhead, cross the street and follow a small trail down into a gulch. Follow that gulch to the left as it heads down towards the creek. There is one dry fall that you can hike around to the left which isn’t too difficult.
Once you reach Sulphur Creek you will spend the remainder of the hike wading in the creek. Hiking poles help a ton since you are rarely able to see your feet or the rocks you are stepping on. Follow the creek down and you will pass three waterfalls.
The first two waterfalls you are able to find a safe way down on the right of the waterfall. I wouldn’t call it easy but it isn’t too difficult either.
The middle waterfall was my favorite out of the three. The last waterfall is the trickiest to climb down in my opinion and I’m really not sure what is the best way down. We were able to make it without getting hurt and with our baby in the backpack but it was definitely very challenging. I’m not sure how people could make it up going the opposite direction. The fact that we were hiking this in the late fall made it harder when it was already cold and we didn’t want to get more wet.
We managed to hike the whole thing without getting wet past our knees which was definitely a success, however I’ve heard the water level can fluctuate so that may not be the case for everyone. After the third waterfall you are almost to the visitor center. If you would like you can hike up from the visitors center to the lower waterfall and play in the pool below the waterfall and creek along the trail. Overall the hike is about 6 miles one way and dogs are not allowed on any trails in Capitol Reef that are not paved. There is no park fee to do this hike as each trailhead is before the paying area of Capitol Reef. There is also a flash flood danger in this canyon so don’t do this if a storm is coming.
Trail Info: This is a one way hike and requires a shuttle between the two trailheads. From Torrey, Utah take highway 24 east and you will see the first trailhead on the left side of the road with a sign for Chimney Rock. Continue along highway 24 and the Capitol Reef Visitors Center will be on the left just off of highway 24 about 3 miles away from the Chimney Rock parking area.
Chimney Rock Trailhead: 38.315304,-111.304196
Visitor Center Trailhead: 38.291052,-111.261656
- Lower Calf Creek Falls
- Negro Bill Canyon to Morning Glory Bridge
- Chesler Park Joint Trail Loop
- Red Caves
- Little Wild Horse Canyon
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