For millions of years, the spring-fed waters of Christopher Creek have been forming the Box Canyon. Creak waters spill from the base of the Mogollon Rim and have sculpted the rose-tinted ramparts that flank the gorge and funnel water into slippery chutes, churning rapids and low-flow channels awash in swirls of pine needle litter.
*Video courtesy of Exterior Expeditions
The most spectacular section of the gorge is less than a mile in length and can be fully explored by those who don’t mind boulder hopping, minor hand-over-foot climbing, wading and swimming.
However, most of the action takes place at the head of the canyon where the sun-warmed escarpments fill up quickly with sunbathers and weekend warriors. So, if you’re looking for solitude---try visiting on a Tuesday.
HIGHLIGHTS: Canyon-bound outdoor "Spa" LENGTH: 1.25 miles roundtrip RATING: moderate-difficult ELEVATION: 5,680 – 5,400 feet DRIVING
Box Canyon is located 18 miles from Payson, near mile marker 271. From Payson, go east on Highway 260 for 18 miles. Between mileposts 271 and 272, look for a dirt turnoff on the south (right) side of the road, right before the green roof cabin at the Boy Scout camp on the right. Park on the side of the highway and climb up the embankment. You can clearly see where you walk up it is not hard to find. Be sure to stay left when you come to the cliffs. Some people scramble down the cliffs on the right but it is dangerous. There is a much clearer path if you stay left which is a slower, safer descent to the mouth of the canyon. Once there look downstream and know that all of that can be safely traversed if careful. We suggest crossing the narrow stream at the bottom of the descent at the now “top” of the canyon and look for the easy scramble down the first rock face to the water. Continue safely exploring by swimming downstream a bit to next speck of dry rock. Stay within ability to climb back up; small dogs not suggested, but strong ones who swim can make it. Over all this is an amazing hike into a secluded canyon with amazing views. Don't forget lots of water and snacks. Stay safe!
While exploring Box Canyon trail near Payson, AZ it is vital that you come prepared with adequate water, good shoes, and bring a hiking partner with you to ensure safety! For more safety tips please visit https://www.discovergilacounty.com/stay-alive-guide
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