One of the most fantastic hikes in Capitol Reef National Park, Sulphur Creek offers easy access to awesome canyoneering, complete with waterfalls, a 600-foot deep gorge, and great opportunities for wading, swimming, and rock scrambling. This is a family, and child-friendly hike that provides a rewarding experience for all skill levels and ages. The route is six miles long, and drops over 500 feet in elevation from Chimney Rock to the visitor center.
Trail Head: 38.317295, -111.309128
Trail Type: Hiking
Length: 6.25 miles one way
Most visitors begin the hike at Chimney Rock, work down to the dry streambed until they reach the confluence with Sulphur Creek, and then splash their way on downstream until they reach the visitor center. Note: There is NOT a park shuttle to take you back to your car at Chimney Rock, some visitors hike back along Highway 24 (adding an extra 3 miles to the trip) or leave a second car to transport them back.
Water levels fluctuate often within Sulphur Creek; visitors should check with the park officials at the visitor center before entering the canyon, especially when bringing children.
Previously, parking was only available at the Chimney Rock trailhead (north of Highway 24) and the Sulphur Creek trailhead was just across the street. Due to increased visitation and safety concerns, the park has moved the Sulphur Creek trailhead and opened a new parking area — both are now about 0.4 miles west of the Chimney Rock trailhead, on the south side of Highway 24.
After almost one and a half miles, the dry gulch joins with Sulphur Creek, and marks the point where the fun starts.
Almost immediately, hikers will have to negotiate wading pools and waterfalls, some of them close to 15 feet high, while navigating the meandering turns of the Goosenecks, surrounded by cliff walls that reach upward of 600 feet tall.
Eventually, the canyon disappears, and the stream bubbles past the Capitol Reef visitor center on Highway 24. Hikers can fill up on water here—as there is no potable water in the canyon—as well as getting the latest weather and creek conditions.