Cottonwood Canyon Road

A scenic 46 mile graded dirt road that runs beside the Cockscomb formation, with many hiking opportunities. It connects US89 and UT12.

★★★★

Wow factor

★★★★

Overall rating

Difficulty

★★★★

Access

★★

Crowds

In this part of Southern Utah, deep in the heart of the huge Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, blacktops are a rarity due to the terrain. Driving directly north/south is often near impossible with long detours around geological features necessary. This has led to locals using the dirt roads as short cuts, and Cottonwood Canyon Road is no exception.

 

For example, if you need to drive from Page to Bryce Canyon or Escalante, this is the road for you. It’s quiet too, even on a dry day at a weekend, but like any dirt road it’s best not to run it after rain. When it’s dry it’s passable with a carefully-driven 2WD car, though you will need to cross washes that may have been degraded after previous storms. The northern 9 miles are paved from Cannonville to the Kodachrome State Park turn off. Do check conditions before you attempt it.

 

The southern section starts out featureless but soon becomes more dramatic as the Paria river comes into view. The mid section is the best as you drive alongside the spectacular Cockscomb.

 

As a drive, this is a small adventure passing stunning scenery. If you have time, though, get out and hike some of the trails nearby. Check out the magnificent Grosvenor Arch and, further south, the Cottonwood Narrows, an easy 3 mile roundtrip.

© 2015-2020 Bob Palmer.