15 views of Sheets Gulch; gallery
MapTopographic map of Sheets Gulch
The signed parking area for the Sheets Gulch hike is on the west side of the Notom-Bullfrog Road a short distance north of the dry wash leading from the canyon, though as with others along the road, 4WD vehicles can drive up the sandy streambed a way, until the surface becomes too rocky. The wash has several wide bends between long flat stretches, with two tributaries, the first joining on the north side after a mile (leading eventually to another deep and enclosed canyon, after one blocking dryfall), followed soon after by a smaller one to the south. Low cliffs gradually rise up at either side of the main drainage but the first narrows in the Navajo sandstone are not reached until 40 minutes walking (2 miles) - these are shallow but quite tight, cutting through dark red rocks and containing a few chokestones, plus muddy pools after recent rainfall. These passageways are followed by a deeper, vertical-walled gorge that is not quite as narrow, and then by a more open stretch. Next is another slot, V-shaped in cross-section so narrow only at the base, and also not extending very far. Beyond this the canyon becomes very deep and has a few more short slot sections, but no significant obstacles, and so provides an easy walk right through the center of the reef, to the point where the gorge widens and the Douglas fir trees start to appear. There is only one major side canyon, joining on the south side above a 20 foot pour off, 3.1 miles from the trailhead. Other features of the gorge include a graceful natural arch on the north side just before the side canyon, many small pieces of petrified wood along the streambed, and a good variety of wildflowers.