Season: Summer Only (June – September)
Box Canyon is located along Stevens Canyon Road, which is open to vehicles during the summer season only, typically June-September. NOTE: Stevens Canyon Road to reach Box Canyon will have variable access due to the Stevens Canyon Road Rehabilitation Project. Check the project page for updates when planning a visit.
Box Canyon is a narrow slot canyon carved by the Muddy Fork of the Cowlitz River. The Box Canyon developed area includes an overlook, comfort station, picnic area, and a short loop trail.
The Box Canyon Bridge is part of Stevens Canyon Road and was built between 1950-1952 in the National Park Service rustic style. It is a spandrel arch bridge 160 feet long and about 41 feet wide with a veneer of native granite. The lower Box Canyon Overlook provides an excellent view of the bridge, looking northwest towards Mount Rainier. From the bridge, look down 180 feet below at the Muddy Fork of the Cowlitz River rushing through the narrow slot canyon.
About 100 feet west of the Box Canyon Bridge, Stevens Canyon Road passes through the Box Canyon Tunnel. The tunnel is 160 feet long. Unlike the other two tunnels found in the park (one further west along Stevens Canyon Road and one on SR123), this tunnel does not have portals covered with masonry and the tunnel walls are bare rock. The tunnel clearance is 12 feet, 6 inches. The Box Canyon Picnic Area is to the west of the tunnel.
The main Box Canyon parking area and comfort station is located east of the bridge. A short, paved path leads down to the overlook.
The Box Canyon Loop Trail is 0.5 miles long and paved. Starting from the east side of Box Canyon Bridge, the trail follows the edge of the canyon northwest towards Mount Rainier, crosses the canyon over a wood footbridge, then follows the other side of the canyon back to Stevens Canyon Road. The western side of the trail does have some steps. Rounded, exposed bedrock borders the trail on the east side of the canyon. Look for fine striations or scratches across the rock’s surface left behind by the movement of past glaciers that once filled this canyon.
The Box Canyon Loop Trail connects to the Wonderland Trail, which crosses the road over the top of the Stevens Canyon Road tunnel if heading northwest, or climbs towards Indian Bar if heading northeast.
To the south, you can see the canyon below and the Cascades in the distance. Look to the north for a view of the mountain on a clear day, and look down again to get a view of the river rushing far below.
The Box Canyon of the Cowlitz is located along Stevens Canyon Road and has plenty of parking, restrooms and more.
The Wonderland Trail, a pathway that circumnavigates Mount Rainier, also passes through this area.