The variety of day trips one can do from Cedar City is incredible. A couple of weeks ago I was scrambling up one of the most prominent desert peaks in the Great Basin, this week I weaved my way through a couple of legendary slot canyons on the Colorado Plateau.
Finding the Bull Valley slot is easy: you drive right over it! Above: view down into the slot from the Bull Valley bridge. If you blink while driving by, you'll miss the entire canyon.
The upper part of the slot has some very nice textures in the Navajo Sandstone.
Navigation is simple, there are just a few tricky chokestones and log jams you have to climb down.
Above: the morning sun finding its way to the bottom of the canyon.
The Bull Valley Bridge is certainly one of the most unique bridges you will ever see. The arrows in these photos are pointing to a pickup truck lodged in the top of the slot beneath the bridge. The original Bull Valley bridge was constructed in the 1940s of logs and planks that spanned the 3- to 5-foot-wide gorge. Sometime on October 14th 1954, three men driving the pickup slid off of the narrow wooden bridge and fell nearly 50 feet before the gorge narrowed, crushing the cab and its occupants instantly. Two of the bodies remained in the cab while the third fell nearly 200 feet to the bottom of the chasm. Apparently, it was a pretty harrowing experience for the recovery team, dangling from ropes, to recover the bodies that remained in the vehicle. The sandwiched truck wasn't going anywhere and they needed to build a safer bridge, so the decision was made to simply bulldoze large boulders, logs, and dirt down into the slot on top of the truck for the new bridge.
Above: closeup of the smashed truck where 3 people died. Below: looking down at the narrow Bull Valley Bridge today.
Below: I don't know the story behind this motorcycle that has been washed down 100 yards from the bridge.
The best part of the canyon is near the bridge. Very deep, very narrow.
Above: there is no obvious exit at times in this twisty slot.
The lower portion of the canyon is no less spectacular, just different. The gorge deepens, opens up a bit and alpine fir trees make an appearance.
At the bottom of Bull Valley Gorge, you head north up Sheep Creek which has massive sheer cliffs of Navajo - sort of a mini Zion Canyon.
After a few miles of slogging up Sheep Creek, you take another turn up the watery Willis Creek.
The small stream was still icy in the shady spots.
Above: rocky sentinels guarding the way up Willis Creek
Willis Creek narrows are not quite as narrow and not nearly as deep as Bull Valley, but the sculpted, water-worn walls are quite photogenic.
A short, but mandatory bike ride closed out this fantastic loop. Final numbers: 13 mile hike, 2.5 mile bike ride. Total hike/bike time: 6 hours.
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