Round Valley Draw slot canyon is tucked into the Kaiparowits Plateau section of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument’s backcountry wilderness. Located near Cannonville, Bryce Canyon, and Kodachrome Basin State Park, the 4.5- to 6-mile roundtrip route through Round Valley Draw takes hikers on a scenic, tunnel-like adventure through the narrows of the Paria River drainage system. There are few obstacles, but it’s helpful to have at least one experienced climber in the group for navigating large boulders and a couple of deep drops.
Directions: Round Valley Draw. Head south on Cottonwood Canyon Road for about 14 miles. As Cottonwood Canyon Road bears east you’ll pass the turn-off for Kodachrome Basin State Park. Continue over the streambed just shy of Grosvenor Arch, where a nearby signpost signals the turn-off to Round Valley Draw. Head south for about 1.5 miles and cross over a few streams. You can park here near the trail register, or brave the dry creek bed a bit further. A four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended to reach Round Valley Draw.
From the parking area it’s about a 20-minute walk downstream through a usually dry, rocky wash to the mouth of the slot canyon. A three-step drop totaling about 15 feet signals the beginning of the descent into Round Valley Draw. There are a few tree stumps to grab onto, which may actually help more during the return ascent. The ground is typically muddy in this earliest part of the narrows. Thin ridges of strata show the cool effects of erosion on this section of the slot canyon.
The draw narrows quickly after this point, becoming darker and more tunnel-like. Where sunshine bounced off the sculpted curves and ridges of the slot’s opening, now overhanging ridges block much of the daylight. The canyon widens slightly at one point, and then drops around 15 feet; a rope can come in handy at this point. Immediately following comes the deepest and narrowest section of Round Valley Draw, continuing for about 1.5 miles.
Round Valley Draw widens at the merge with Hackberry Canyon to signal the end of the slot canyon. From here hikers can return through two short side canyons or return the way they came. The hike takes about two to four hours to complete, depending on skill level and ground conditions. Never hike in narrow slot canyons when there is impending rain or during a rainstorm.