Kanab Creek Wilderness Area


Cylindropuntia whipplei var. whipplei

Opuntia cf. phaeacantha

Penstemon thompsoniae

Agave utahensis ssp. utahensis



Coordinating Botanist: Wendy Hodgson


Status: In Progress


Started: 1998


Taxa List. Being compiled.





Kanab Creek Wilderness Area (KCWA) encompasses 75,300 acres (305 km2), of which 68,600 acres (278 km2) are located in the North Kaibab Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest, and the remaining 6,700 acres (27 km2) are administered by the Bureau of Land Management. Kanab Creek is the major tributary and largest north of the Colorado River, positioned along the major fault separating Kanab and Kaibab Plateaus, originating approximately 50 miles north of the Wilderness boundary in southern Utah. It is a perennial stream for much of its lower length, and during the summer months (July September) can experience flash flooding BE AWARE. Major tributaries flowing into Kanab Creek from the east are Snake Gulch and Jump Up Canyon; secondary drainages of these canyons are Slide Canyon, Horse Spring, Sowats, Kwagunt Hollow and Indian Hollow. Other side drainages flowing into Kanab Creek from the east are Little Spring, Jensen, Big Cove, Dinner Pockets and Lawson canyons. Major tributaries flowing from the west into Kanab Creek are Grama, Hack and Chamberlain canyons. Steep-walled drainages characterize much of the area below the Esplanade. The Esplanade is broad and expansive and is characterized by relatively level terrain, pot holes and sculptured rock forms, all providing microhabitats to a diverse assemblage of plants. Elevations within KCWA range from ca 6200 feet (1878 meters) on the rim at Sowats Point to 3200 feet (970 meters) below Jump Up Canyon-Kanab Creek junction. The rugged nature of KWCA and adjacent areas require access via 4WD or backpack. One can gain access via the following roads leading into several trails: FSR 642 from FSR 22 (or FSR 642) to Snake Gulch, Trail #59; FSR 235 off of FSR 423 and FSR 423 to Slide Canyon Trail #58; FSR 234 from FSR 447 and FSR 22 to Ranger Trail #41; FSR 227 from FSR 427 to Gooseneck Trail #112; and FSR 233 from FSR 425 to Jumpup-Nail Trail #8.


The relative difficulty of access is a factor in the relatively low number of collections and collectors in this area. Nearly 600 collections representing 358 taxa have been made within the parameters of 36.47 - 36.9 N lat. and 112.65 - 112.44W long, an area that approximates the areas within the KCWA. There remain extensive areas both along and below the rims requiring further plant exploration and documentation. The threat of expanded uranium ore mining at known breccia sites demand botanical inventories for rare plants such as Rosa stellata ssp. abyssa. Very little is known regarding species of concern in or near federal lands available for mineral (uranium resources) development, including 1) what exactly grows at these sites, including sensitive species and their abundance, 2) sensitivity and potential chemical toxicity of the plants (rare or not) to uranium and 3) what their present uranium concentration is in their tissues and how this affects the plants (Bills et al. 2011. U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2010-3050). Areas targeted for study in the immediate future include further reconnaissance of rim areas from Jump Up Point to Snake Gulch (and include Jensen, Big Cove, Lawson canyon rims), Sowats, Rock, Little Spring, Horse, Pigeon, Wildband and White Pockets canyons and rims, and Gunsight and Buckhorn Points.