Twilight Canyon- Cottonwood Gulch- Llewellyn Gulch- 8 Days Backpacking/Packrafting

Feb 7, 2017
March 3-10 2018

The route started off about 40 miles down Hole in the Rock Road and climbs 1500 feet to 50 mile point using a sketchy ridge line. We then walked around 50 point and dropped 1500 feet into Twilight Canyon using another sketchy ridgeline. Then down Twilight till we reach Lake Powell and inflate the packrafts. We paddled out of Twilight and over to Reflection Canyon and then on to Cottonwood Gulch. We hiked up Cottonwood Gulch and exited out the top and hiked over to the head of Llewellyn where we dropped in and took the canyon to Lake Powell. Again its time to deploy the packrafts then paddle to the hole in the rock exit and climb 600 feet back to the car and a beer (or 3 beers).


Friday - Slc to Escalante- After leaving Orem at about 730pm and getting all the way to Mona (45 minutes away from Orem), @Adventure monkey realized that he left his damn hiking shoes at his house. By the time we left Orem for the second time, it was already late and we were all super tired. Luckily the moon was full and we could see for miles! We got to the Lower Calf Creek campground at 230am and passed the fuck out!

Saturday - Hole in the Rock Road to 50 Mile Bench - We woke up at the crack of dawn, ate a huge breakfast in Escalante, and drove down the Hole in the Rock road, watching 50 Mile Bench rise. I dropped off @Adventure monkey and Joe off at the trailhead and drove the rest of the way to the end of hole in the rock road, dropped the car off, and rode my bike back to the TH (7.5 miles), and hid the bike in the desert ;) Hiking up the ridge that day was brutal! I had the heaviest backpack @58 pounds (we were carrying 2 gallons of water each for our dry camp that night). Some serious weather was moving in and it became super windy at the top, so we found a quick spot to camp and bivied up.

Hiking up the first ridge

Sunday - 50 Mile Bench to Twilight Canyon - After a very windy night, we awoke to a fresh blanket of snow! After packing up, it began to snow again. The first few hours we were hiking with an inch of mud caked to our shoes. The crux of the day was definitely the ridgeline that we hiked down going into Twilight Canyon. Steve Allen describes it as "sketchy" in his guidebook and i would have to agree. At first glance it looks impossible to hike down, but once you get on top of it, its not so bad, just a few spots where you have to get on all fours and friction descend the steep parts. We hiked to about the halfway point in Twilight, found a clean pothole of water, and called it a day.

Snow in the morning at camp 1

Hiking ontop of 50 mile

Hiking down Steve Allen's "sketchy" ridgeline. Twilight Canyon, Lake Powell, and Navajo Mountain in the background.

Monday - Twilight Canyon to Lake Powell Camp - Monday was designed to be pretty easy going so we took our time and enjoyed the narrows of Twilight. When we got to Lake Powell it was sunny and perfect temps to be on the water. We inflated the packrafts and paddled through the sunken slots and eventually reached LP and found a camp where we could have an epic fire.

Twilight Canyon

Twilight Canyon

Lake Powell

Tuesday - Lake Powell up Reflection/Cottonwood Gulch - On tuesday we paddled the choppy as fuck waters of Lake Powell for what seemed like forever, until we got into Reflection Canyon and the water calmed down. From here it was an hour and a half paddle to where Lake Powell ends and Cottonwood Gulch begins. In Cottonwood while we were transitioning from boat to backpack, we drank all of my whiskey and stumbled drunkenly into the tamarisk ridden bottom section of the canyon to find a decent camp.

Lake Powell

Reflection Canyon

Cottonwood Gulch

Wednesday - Cottonwood to just above Llewellyn Gulch - After checking out the ruins in the morning, we were back on our way up Cottonwood Gulch, trying to keep an eye out for more ruins and petroglyphs. Out of nowhere the canyon slots up and you can choose to go around it, or go through the slot and deal with the possible mud/water and various drops. We opted to go through the slot and it was well worth the trouble. After hiking up the rest of the canyon, we hiked the slick rock exit to the top and found a camp.


Thursday - Down Llewellyn Gulch - This is what i had been waiting for! Down Llewellyn we go! I have heard so many good things about this canyon, and it lived up to the hype. The upper slot section was beautiful and deep, and the lower half was more open and had these amazing alcoves with a few ruins and petroglyphs, and a nice clear stream. I can see why people chose to live there.

@Adventure monkey in the Llewellyn Gulch slot section

Petroglyphs in Llewellyn Gulch

Friday - Llewellyn Gulch to Lake Powell - Friday was another relatively easy day, all we had to do was find a camp across the lake from our exit at the Hole in the Rock. We paddled for about 3 hours and the water wasn't choppy like it was the other day. We chugged along till we found a crappy camp (not the camp that we had found of google earth....) It was windy as fuck that night and i was stoked to have set up my tarp for only the second time of the whole trip.

Joe chillin'

Last Camp

Saturday - Lake Powell up Hole in the Rock and back to SLC - Packrafting from our camp to Hole in the Rock only took us 35 minutes and from there we packed the bags and hiked up the 600ft wagon trail up to the car were cold beer awaits us. We got the obligatory flat tire on the way out, had an amazing meal at escalatte, and headed back home. What a wonderful trip it was!

Hole in the Rock

Me and Joe going up hole in the rock

Looking back at lake powell from midway up hole in the rock
Last edited:
Great route. bummer the whiskey only made it to Tuesday...

I tried to cross at hole in the rock to do some walking over on the other side like a week earlier than you guys and the top third of hole in the rock was so snowy and icy i had to bail.

Hole in the Rock would be treacherous with ice!! Next trip i am going to bring more whiskey and make the person with the lightest bag carry it ;)
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