Lick Wash

Grand Staircase-Escalante
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Heading east on Highway 89 from Kanab, UT, take a left on Johnson Canyon. This is 8 miles from Kanab. There is access from Glendale, UT via the Skutumpah Road, but the southern route via Johnson Canyon has better road conditions; partially paved for a bit with good gravel surfaces, though still rather bumpy with a few narrow sections with clay that can prove inaccessible after wet weather. Follow the paved Johnson Canyon Road north for 16.2 miles to a signed junction, then turn right onto the good gravel Skutumpah Road, signed for Deer Springs Ranch and Cannonville.

Avoid any spur roads leading to the private property of the Deer Springs Ranch between 11.5 and 11.7 miles from the junction. After driving 14.8 miles from the junction at the end of the pavement (31 miles from US 89), you reach the spur road that leads to the trailhead, just before Skutumpah Road crosses Lick Wash. There is a parking area on the right side of the road. Bureau of Land Management signage gives information on the area as you begin the footpath towards the wash that leads to the narrows. The hike from the parking area is roughly 10 minutes in an open area of sagebrush that leads you to the wash and, soon, the narrows of Lick Wash.

Soon after entering the narrows you will begin to see ponderosa pine trees (over 100 years old) towering above the canyon floor. These trees within a slot canyon are unique as they are at the mercy of monstrous, uprooting forces of monsoon flooding. Ponderosa pines are extremely drought and fire resistant and are found in many areas of the Grand Staircase.

The narrows are 0.9 miles with another 3 miles to Park Wash. It is not recommended to plan on getting picked up in Park Wash as it is an extremely difficult, hard to find 4×4 route with bottomless sand and areas that have washed out in 2021 monsoons.

At Park Wash the white walls of Navajo Sandstone climb to heights of 800 feet. There is an iron gate in the canyon towards Park Wash used by local ranchers for
cattle. This gate is not usually locked; if you open it… please be a good steward of the land and close it.

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There are no drastic drops or bouldering in Lick Wash; with the exception of one big boulder roughly 2 miles in. This boulder may be easier to maneuver (or harder) since late summer monsoons have changed the canyon since my last visit in June 2021.

With few obstacles, Lick Wash is easily accessible for all ages. Although not a slot canyon with drastic narrows like others in the area, Lick Wash is worth the time simply for its unique scenery and relatively low numbers of visitors. It is best to plan an out-and-back hike. Pack ample water for everyone (one gallon per person is recommended), follow all Leave No Trace etiquette. Although still an unknown and lesser visited hike in the area, it is not unusual to meet visitors with dogs, so it is best to carry a leash for your furry friend.

As with any slot canyon or wash area, check your route for flash flooding warnings and road conditions prior to entering. Never try to drive through muddy or washed out areas; it is clay and you will sink. Tow truck recovery in this area is very expensive!

Pack water and enjoy the view!

Written by Shelly Wayne
Local guide / Photographer