One of the major tributaries of the Colorado River, Kanab Creek is the largest tributary canyon system on the north side of the Grand Canyon. From its origin about 50 miles north in southern Utah, Kanab Creek and its feeder streams have cut a network of gorges with vertical walls deep into the Kanab and Kaibab Plateaus. Above the canyon rims, the land is arid and the vegetation sparse, consisting mostly of desert shrub blackbush and sagebrush. In the creek bottom you'll find walls sculpted by wind and water into a maze of fins, knobs, and potholes, surrounded by riparian vegetation. Elevations range from 2,000 feet at the river to about 6,000 feet on the rim, and snow often falls in winter. Annual precipitation for this wilderness is 18.8 inches. Most of the slopes are angled in excess of 40 degrees. The upper reaches provide winter range for large Kaibab mule deer, and desert bighorn sheep dwell on the canyon cliffs. Almost all of Arizona's chukar partridges live here along with many smaller mammals, toads, frogs, lizards, snakes, and birds.
Multiple trails access the Wilderness. Most visitors utilize trailheads originating on the east side of the Wilderness, since road access on the west side is poor. Hiking can be arduous. Trail systems are minimally maintained and conditions vary from year to year. There is a total of 91.2 miles of trail in the Kanab Creek Wilderness, which includes wash bottoms connecting trail segments, but not known canyoneering routes. Spring and fall are the optimal seasons of the year for utilizing the area. Summer visitation is not recommended. Summer temperatures can easily reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit and permanent water sources are restricted to several springs and seeps creating hazardous conditions for hikers. More common conditions consists of average temperatures in the high 80s in summer and low 20s in mid-winter. Spring and fall temperature are more moderate. Special consideration should be given to the location and availability of water when planning an extended trip into this wilderness, during any season. Kanab Creek does not flow year round and obtaining drinking water from the creek is not advised.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Kanab Creek Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.