Willow Creek Canyon (sometimes shortened to Willow Canyon) is a short hike through a narrow canyon which contains wet cascades and a flowing waterfall during certain times of year. Difficulties encountered on the hike include recognizing your limitations and not attempting to climb the waterfall to see more of the canyon. A Google Earth map of the hiking route can be found by clicking on the button above. GPS coordinates for the parking area are 36° 3.943'N, 116° 44.689'W. GPS coordinates for the canyon mouth are 36° 3.293'N, 116° 43.385'W. GPS coordinates for the sheep crossover trail into Sidewinder Canyon are 36° 2.907'N, 116° 43.638'W.
Willow Creek Canyon contains 1 of 4 major waterfalls in Death Valley (with the others being Monarch, Mill, and Darwin). The canyon is a very nice place in the park to visit, assuming you go there at the right time of year when the water is flowing. While seeing the upper canyon takes 4WD and a long drive to Gold Valley, seeing the lower canyon is quite easy and well worth the short drive from Furnace Creek. It is not possible for hikers to cover the entire canyon being that there are a number of huge dry falls in the middle portion of the canyon. That hasn't stopped some uninformed hikers from attempting it, but when this happens it usually results in a rescue being called in. The springtime is the best time to visit Willow Creek Canyon, because it is a great place to see wildflowers in bloom and also the water flow is abundant throughout the creek and over the falls. Back in the Fall of 2008, the water in Willow Creek Canyon actually dried up for the first time in over a decade. And now that seems to happen on an annual basis. That's why this is no longer considered a good hike during the Fall. For our trip, we had a great short morning hike. The wildflowers were amazing to see. In fact, from the parking area up to the canyon mouth, it felt like being on a wildflower walk. The flowers were literally everywhere. I had seen most of these flowers before and had lots of pictures of them at home, so I didn't stop to take a lot of pictures. But I saw another man walking up the canyon, and he was taking lots of photographs of every flower. Besides the walk up the fan, the canyon itself is quite narrow and spectacular. Once we reached the 2-stage waterfall, we realized that it was too dangerous to climb, especially the second part of it. But it didn't matter, because the canyon had been very beautiful up to this point and the 2-stage waterfall seemed like a logical place to stop and have lunch. By the way, one thing that surprised me about this canyon was its popularity. During the 45 minutes which we spent at the waterfall, we had the place all to ourselves. But before and after that, there were close to 10 other people which we saw hiking the area. It's probably because it's such an easy hike (about 2 miles each way) to such an amazing place. On our hike out, we ended up taking a side canyon up and over into Sidewinder Canyon to create a loop hike. Our hike took place on March 14, 2009.
Many more photographs taken during our visit are available for viewing for this destination. To see all of them, choose one of the two options presented below. The two options are Slideshow viewing and Trip Report viewing. The Slideshow option allows for viewing larger images with an autoplay option and a full screen option (available on most browsers). This option works very well for large computer screens and tablets. The Trip Report option allows for viewing smaller pictures in a standard scroll-down format and enlarging of any panoramic photos taken during our visit. Click on the option of your choice to view all of our photos from this destination. The Slideshow format opens in a new browser window and the Trip Report format uses the same browser window for viewing.
TRIP REPORT FORMAT