Glen Canyon NRA: Reflection, Cottonwood, Llewellyn Canyons Backpack April 25-28,2016

John Morrow

May 22, 2015
This is a little travelled area near the end of the Hole in the Rock road that departs south out of Escalante Town traversing a long plateau above the Escalante River. 55 miles down the road is a joint unmarked trailhead for Davis Canyon and our backpack.

I met Kimberly, Linda, Barbara, and Robert in Escalante at the Escalante Outfitters for dinner and planning. Then we were off down the "H in the R" Road. We started with a dayhike loop of Brimstone, Spooky, and Peek-a-boo slot canyons (TR to come). Then our backpack began. This trip includes rim camping obove Reflection Canyon and Lake Powell and explorations of Cottonwood and Llewellyn Gulches.
Day 1: Long mesa walk to Reflection Canyon/Glen Canyon (Lake Powell) junction.
Day 2: Reflection to Cottonwood Gulch with exploration of Cottonwood to Lake Powell.
Day 3: Great dayhike loop of Llewellyn and Cottonwood from a basecamp in Cottonwood.
Day 4: The exit out of Cottonwood back to the trailhead.
This trip turned out to be a fairly epic! Llewellyn gave us all we could handle (and more!) but we left with a sense of Pride and accomplishment, with plenty of fun thrown in! We somewhat accidentally entered the realm of semi-technical canyoneering as the chokestone drops and dryfalls forced us into rappelling to continue through, while a waist deep keeper hole required partner assist to escape. Don't do this one solo right now.
Here's the story in photos:

Hike to Reflection Canyon:

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Arriving at Reflection to camp and explore.

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Day 2: Moving on to Cottonwood Canyon:

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Descending into Cottonwood Gulch. We established a camp for the next couple nights and explored the canyon in the afternoon and evening.

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Day 3: The incredible Llewellyn Gulch/Cottonwood Gulch Loop. Exiting Cottonwood is Class 3 slickrock scramble fun. Descending Llewellyn we did three rappels of less than 20 feet even though we anticipated being able to downclimb all. There were plenty more down climbs over chokestones and a very long narrows to enjoy. To complete the loop back to camp we walked up on the pleasant mesa between the two gulches. Good stuff.

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Day 4: Racing the impending T-storms back to the Trailhead in order to not get stuck in the slick red clay of the H in the R Road for days on end.

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What a trip, and adventure, this was for all of us! Great challenges, fantastic scenery, and wonderful company made this a Top 5 desert classics for me!
There was plenty of evidence of the "Old Ones" (ancestral pueblo and Fremont peoples). I'll add some rock art pics later.
PM me if you ever want details of the required gear, canyon entries/exits, and drops.


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Last edited:


Aug 9, 2007
These canyons hold a special place in my heart. I hope one day in the future folks can walk down one, packraft the Colorado, then walk up the other. Thanks for sharing this with us.
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