Deep Creek Wilderness is a Bureau of Land Management public lands area located in southwest Utah. The Deep Creek Wilderness is contiguous with the Deep Creek North Wilderness area. Deep Creek Wilderness contains 3284 acres of pristine wilderness habitat, and combined with the northern wilderness area, contains 7546 acres, providing protected habitat for wildlife and recreational opportunities for hiking, backcountry camping, and wildlife watching.
Deep Creek Wilderness is bordered on its three mile southern boundary, by Zion National Park and is just over a 90 minute drive to Cedar Breaks National Monument. Overnight camping for RVs and a multitude of recreational activities in both summer and winter months are available at these national parks. Visitors to the area can explore the region by RV. Need to rent an RV? Check out Cedar Breaks, Utah, RV Rentals.
The public lands at Deep Creek Wilderness are at significant altitude, 6000 to 6500 feet above sea level. They have a good water supply from a variety of water sources, including creeks, drainages, and springs. The Deep Creek runs all year round, providing a consistent and abundant riparian area that supports vegetation, including shade trees. This creek runs along a narrow slot canyon and is designated as a wild river. The creek has eroded down about 2000 feet of Navajo sandstone, revealing multicolored sedimentary rock. Additional side canyons, drainages, and hanging waterfalls are abundant in the Deep Creek wilderness, creating a natural geological wonderland.
Use caution when exploring the terrain near the creek due to steep terrain and fast-flowing river with rapids. Local flora in the region includes Utah juniper, pinyon pine, mountain mahogany, and sagebrush as well as native grasses. The abundant plant life and water supply supports a variety of wildlife, including large raptors and mammals.
There is no motor vehicle access into Deep Creek Wilderness, and it is often accessed by hikers on foot from the trailhead at the North Fork of the Virgin River at the north end of Zion Canyon Scenic Drive in Zion National Park. Access to other points and trailheads on the borders of the Deep Creek Wilderness area is via dirt access roads, which may only be accessible by 4x4 vehicles. RVs and tow trailers can be parked at campgrounds in Zion National Park, and visitors can hike into the wilderness area to the north.
When hiking or driving in the Deep Creek Wilderness area, be prepared for harsh climate conditions. Summers are very hot; however, temperatures drop off rapidly at night, especially in the transition seasons. This can create a challenge when assessing the wilderness area on foot and primitive camping, as you will need cool, breathable gear to beat the daytime heat and warm layers for evenings under the stars. Winters here experience sub-freezing temperatures, which can create icy road conditions when accompanied by precipitation. When traveling in the area by vehicle, ensure you have good tires appropriate for the season, and a full-sized spare, as services and amenities are scarce in the region and cell phone coverage is spotty.
There are two campgrounds in Zion National Park which is located on the southern border of Deep Creek Wilderness, that provide excellent RV camping sites and are reservable. Both campgrounds are very popular with visitors and booking ahead during the peak season is recommended. Book your site at Zion National Park Camping Reservations
The Zion National Park provides trail access north into the Deep Creek Wilderness areas at the north end of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive at the North Fork of the Virgin River.
Watchman Campground is open year-round with the peak season being between March and November. This campground has 176 sites, 6 group sites, and 2 ADA accessible RV sites. Facilities at the campground include flush toilets, drinking water supply, and RV dump stations. There is a loop for RVs with 30 amp electrical hookups.
South Campground provides 116 sites with 3 ADA accessible sites. Facilities at this campground include an RV dump station, visitor center, nature center, and drinking water supplies. There are no RV hookups at the sites. Campsites have picnic tables and fire rings and some trees providing privacy and shade. Pets are permitted on a leash.
Backcountry camping is permitted at Bureau of Land Management public lands in Deep Creek Wilderness. However, access to the area is on foot only, as motorized vehicles are not permitted in the wilderness area.
Rough terrain and extreme climate changes can make camping in this backcountry challenging. If you do not have backcountry camping experience, you are encouraged to contact a local outfitter who can provide you with equipment and guidance. Check local fire restrictions and regulations before proceeding into the backcountry public lands.
Deep Creek Wilderness backpackers will be rewarded with pristine wilderness areas, exciting wildlife, and a peaceful environment, as little human activity takes place in this remote wilderness. Kick back in the evening and enjoy the dark night sky, which is excellent for stargazing, with little light noise from human activities.
Deep Creek Wilderness provides a beautiful setting for hiking and backcountry camping with multicolored sandstone cliffs, deep gorges, creeks, waterfalls, and canyons. The terrain is rough, and there are steep elevation changes, so be prepared with appropriate footwear and gear that will accommodate ambient temperature changes. Daytime summer temperatures can be in excess of 100 F and drop by up to 30 degrees or more at night.
Hiking is the primary recreational activity in the Deep Creek Wilderness, which is usually accessed from trailheads on the park's border, especially the trails that originated in Zion National Park. Experience in backcountry hiking and camping is highly recommended for adventures in this scenic yet harsh wilderness area.
Deep Creek and its tributaries provide a year-round water supply to the Deep Creek Wilderness. The water supply supports plant growth, including trees and grasses, which provide shelter and forage for local wildlife. Wildlife lovers with a field guide and camera can identify and photograph a wide variety of wildlife in the public lands.
Large mammals include mule deer, elk, black bears, bobcats, kit fox, marmots, ring-tailed cat, badger, and mountain lion. Bird watchers on the lookout can find the endangered Mexican spotted owl, which makes its home at some of the higher elevations, which are ideal nesting spots for this species. Other raptors including golden eagle, and screech owls, also frequent the region.
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, you can head a short way south to Zion Canyon Visitor Center to catch a ranger led shuttle tour. The informative tour is a great way to learn about the wilderness region in southern Utah. The tour takes about 90 minutes and books up fast. You can make reservations in person at the visitor center up to 3 days prior to your visit. Part of the tour involves a stop at the Human History Museum which features displays highlighting pioneer settlement and the history and activities of American native peoples in the area.
When the weather proves inhospitable for on-foot adventures in Deep Creek Wilderness, try some scenic drives in the area. Zion National Park and Cedar Breaks National Monument are both known for having excellent scenic highways, including the Mount Carmel-Zion Highway which traverses the Zion National Park.
This extraordinary scenic drive comes complete with a narrow tunnel that is not for the faint of heart. Large RVs and tow vehicles need to slow down to negotiate the tunnel and can create traffic backups. Fortunately, there is wonderful scenery to enjoy while you are waiting! There is a fee for RVs using the scenic highway tunnel.
Looking for a way to get out and enjoy the wilderness area and participate in activities during the wintertime? Try cross country skiing in the national parks to the north and south of Deep Creek Wilderness.
Zion National Park has several cross country ski routes including trails at Kolob Canyon, Wildcat Canyon, Eagle Point, Brian Head, and West Rim Trail. Cedar Breaks National Monument also has winter trails open to cross country skiers. After heavy snowfalls when cross country ski tracks have not yet been set, skiing can be hard going. You will need to bring your own equipment or rent equipment from local outfitters.
Local outfitters provide equipment and guided snowshoe tours at Cedar Breaks National Park which is about 1 ½ hour drive north of Deep Creek Wilderness. Tours can be arranged between January and March with local guides who can show you the best routes and fantastic geological and natural features of the National Park.
Be prepared for cold temperatures and some climbing by dressing in layers that can be donned or removed as necessary when exerting yourself snowshoeing during the winter season.