“The huge outpourings of water in this area have attracted people since prehistoric times.”
— Nicholas Shannon
Birding · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Climbing and/or rappelling in the creek narrows, with or without the use of ropes or other technical equipment, is prohibited. This restriction extends within the creek beginning at the southeast end of the rock ledges, known as the Patio to the base of Deer Creek Falls. The trail from the river to the campsites and points up-canyon remains open. This restriction is necessary for the protection of significant cultural resources.
Take the Thunder River
Trail generally south across the Esplanade. The trail crosses expansive slickrock sections as it works around several small drainages, so runners need to be alert for cairns that mark the route ahead. Try to locate the next cairn before the last one is lost from view. About 2.5 miles of reasonably flat walking brings runners to the southern edge of the Esplanade, a wonderful canyon view, and the top of a series of steep switchbacks through the Supai and Redwall Formations to the floor of Surprise Valley. The descent is long and rough and the southern exposure makes the entire area infamously hot. Avoid running in Surprise Valley after 10 a.m. during warm weather. A large cairn marks a fork in the trail east (left) to Thunder River
and Tapeats Creek
, west (right) to Deer Creek.
Go west at the trail junction in Surprise Valley to reach Deer Creek. The trail becomes rocky, loose and somewhat exposed as it descends into the arm of Deer Creek. Deer Spring is a wonderful respite, enjoy the water, and celebrate that camp is only 20 minutes away. Below camp, Deer Creek slides over a promenade known as The Patio before gracefully plunging into the famous Narrows. Carved from the hard, resistant Tapeats Formation, the Narrows are, in a word, enchanting; though they are closed below the patio, a trail on their west side leads to the Colorado River, affording the opportunity to experience one of Grand Canyons most spectacular waterfalls.
Flora & Fauna
Like a gift, booming streams of crystalline water emerge from mysterious caves to transform the harsh desert of the inner canyon into absurdly beautiful green oasis replete with the music of water falling into cool pools.