The Canyon Creek wooden playset by Backyard Discovery is a great choice for its fort and clubhouse feature. It gives kids some privacy to plan their activities, play lookout, and still have the classic climbing and swinging elements. In the following review, we take an in-depth look at the Canyon Creek and give you the inside scoop on what to expect for your money.
The Backyartisan's Verdict
At the Backyartisan, we cover playsets in the most comprehensive way we know how by diving into the particulars to expect as an adult while trying to provide that childlike perspective on the play elements. We rate the headline aspects on a 5-star scale, give each a weight, which you’ll see next to each category, and finally arrive at the overall rating. We give 30% of the weight to the aspects of the playset before use, 45% to the use and enjoyment, and 25% to the pricing and value of the product. Okay, here’s the Backyartisan rating for the Canyon Creek by Backyard Discovery.
Shipping & Receiving
Definitely check out our writeup on what to expect for a playset delivery. That article will help you anticipate everything you’re getting into with a swing set shipment. It’s not necessarily the easiest item to receive, but some are better than others.
Our Canyon Creek verdict: The Canyon Creek comes in 2 boxes with the slide shipping in a separate package. Overall, this is a pretty easy shipment to receive. We are happy with the simplicity of having only 2 boxes, which makes it easier to identify potential damage more quickly. Thermoformed slides are generally bulkier and harder to box with the rest of the set, so you may find scratches on it. Be on the lookout when receiving.
Trucking Company Appointments
The Canyon Creek ships via LTL freight, so you’ll need to be available for a delivery appointment. The transportation company will be in touch with you to do so, but they can be finicky with their timing and don’t always make the window when they schedule delivery. This is the con of freight shipping, the pro being that it is the most cost efficient way to ship large items throughout the US.
Dealing with Pallets
Your shipment will arrive on an 8’ pallet, which means you’ll have to dispose of a pretty large pallet. Just a fair warning, so be prepared for it. Again, that is pretty typical in the industry. Unless you paid extra for a liftgate service (which we don’t recommend), you’ll want to grab the 2 boxes and slide off of the truck before even attempting to do anything with the pallet.
Unboxing and Taking Inventory
This is where the Canyon Creek shines - with only two boxes and a slide, you’ll find this pretty easy. That said, do inspect the boxes carefully for damage and list everything out on the delivery ticket. Please take pictures as well! If something comes damaged, it’ll be critical to show proof of that delivery damage and greatly speed along the replacement process, which could cost you something if you don’t take care to note the issues.
Box Weight and Dimensions
At 154 lbs and 198 lbs, the two boxes aren’t light by any means, so we recommend having a buddy help with the unloading process. They are also every bit the length of the 8’ pallet, so it’s still a cumbersome package. We almost always recommend having a few spare hands to get the job done.
The slide is a pretty basic, lightweight, thermoformed slide and should be easy to get down.
If you’ve decided that you like the Canyon Creek, next thing you should know is how long you should expect the installation to take. This is a hugely important step in purchasing a playset - it literally takes the idea into action, requires some real work, and it is essentially what’s needed to have a safe play item in the backyard. Check out our guide on how to install a playset for more tips.
Our Canyon Creek verdict: For installation, the Canyon Creek is as straightforward as most playsets that have minimal items. The beauty of this swing set is that it packs in a few fun accessories and clubhouse features without really adding my additional time.
To get started, you really only need some basics. Nothing out of the ordinary that what you’d expect: level, square, wrenches, screwdrivers, drill, a few standard size drill bits (⅛”, ⅜”, and 7/16”), ratchet, ladder, and a hammer and mallet. Some sets will require paddle bits or specialized equipment, but this is fairly simple and most toolboxes will have a majority of the requisite items.
Ease and Timeframe of Installation
The manufacturer allots 10 hours for total installation time, which doesn’t seem too crazy, given the set. I think it’s always smart to round up once you take into account the organizing phase and cleanup phases. Also, if you break it into 2 days, it’ll definitely add a little bit more time as you try to stay organized.
Quality of Directions
I enjoy looking through directions and seeing how these companies describe the work done. The directions on the Canyon Creek are fairly well written (you can tell it’s an English background), but I think Backyard Discovery went a little too heavy on diagrams, and unfortunately didn’t execute on them well enough.
The problem I’ve found is that these directions are primarily black and white, which the boards have 2 different stain colors. It would’ve been really easy to help the user distinguish between the two, but that wasn’t really done. Also, the marking on the boards kind of blend in with the color of the boards, so you might find yourself frustrated in the process.
The use zone for the Canyon Creek is roughly 27.5’ by 28’. I’ve seen some folks make the mistake of putting the swing set upright post next to a fence because the fence doesn’t really interfere with the play, but you really do generally want to allow for 6’ around the more stationary elements (posts, climbing walls, etc.), but you’ll need to leave more space for the swings when they are in use.
Overall, this is a fairly small use zone for backyard swing sets, which is great because it still packs a punch when it comes to accessories and options.
Stability & Durability
This Backyard Discovery swing set is purported to take 10 hours to install. Unless you’re really organized and handy, I’d say you should round up and know that this set will take you every bit of 2 full days to assemble. Honestly, that isn’t bad in this industry. Plus, you don’t want to cut corners - these are your children and they deserve the safest playset.
Our Canyon Creek verdict: The Canyon Creek is fairly average in terms of durability in the market. Backyard Discovery does not sell itself as the heavy duty option in the market and you’ll see complaints from time to time in online reviews about splitting wood during the shipping process. Unless you did follow the delivery instructions and ignored their policies, the manufacturer should replace any of these problematic items.
Joints & Hardware
As mentioned, Backyard Discovery is fairly average in its durability, so the hardware for the Canyon Creek matches our expectations. Hex bolts that are 5/16” is about what to expect from KidKraft and other value, cost efficient brands. Same with the wood screws at #8 in size. I’d like to personally see something heavier duty, but this just comes with the territory at this price range.
In terms of the joint plates, these are fairly standard as well. I am not enamored with the thickness of the plates, but the bolt and nut barrel is a great connection method for the swing beam. I would generally like to see a third connection point on the upright post to the cross beam as well.
Finally, with the uprights, you’ll see that Backyard Discovery engineers value (ie. cuts cost) into the Canyon Creek by taking the upright and splitting it into an A-frame support. This reduces the length of the post, putting the shipping size under 8 feet long. This is a common way to keep shipping costs down, but definitely isn’t as solid as a beam that runs to the crossbeam.
The swing beam is right at 3.5” by 5.25” thick, so not exactly a 4x4, but pretty solid construction that you’d expect from the value-based brands. With that said, the upright supports leave a little more to be desired at a 1.5” by 3.5” thickness. Most everything else is roughly 1 to 1.5” thick at its smallest dimension. We rate this as just above average and certainly gets you to the price point that Backyard Discovery is trying to hit.
The wave slide is your typical thermoformed plastic slide, one solid piece that should be smooth and what you expect. This slide is thick enough to withstand a lot of rides, but you’ll want to keep and eye out for scratches in the transportation process.
Wood Stain & Finish
The color scheme of the Canyon Creek is unique, something that Backyard Discovery does work into their swing sets. The finish on the Canyon Creek has darker borders and framework that really make it stand out in the industry. Depending upon your home, these accent colors might be exactly a good fit for your backyard.
We like the overall finish of the wood - it’s distinct in the industry, not just your typical yellow cedar and primary colors.
For individual play elements, the manufacturer recommends no more than 150 lbs. and 120 lbs. per child for elements that are multi-use. Few items on this playset are multi-use, so you basically max out at 150 lbs. That’s not super impressive compared to what you see from the heavy duty sets, but it’ll handle most kids, even larger kids. For more on this topic, read our full guide on swing set weight limits.
This playset follows along the lines of normal maintenance requirements - and the more you take care of your wooden swing set, the longer it’ll last. That means taking off the plastic at the end of the play season, tightening screws at the beginning of every season and regularly throughout the play season, and sanding and re-staining your swing set to keep the everything at its freshest under the sun.
Maintaining a swing set isn’t hard, but it requires a little bit of time and attention and we recommend you follow along with the checklist to make sure you protect your investment. Make sure sprinklers are pointed away and you keep the area free of debris and unwanted pests, otherwise, it’ll either decay right in front of you and you’ll be looking for a replacement in just a couple of years.
The play elements is where you’ll see the Canyon Creek excel at this price range. We love the upper deck for the clubhouse and lookout, the play grill, and picnic table. We think your kids will enjoy the options available for this value-based swing set too.
Our Canyon Creek verdict: You get some fun play items here that are both interactive and social. All in all, they mesh well with the set and are spaced out well so that kids have the space they need to play and brings them together.
Ups, Downs & Acrosses
Okay, so this section about how to get up, down, and across is pretty meager. With just one rock wall and one slide, you’ll note that this is pretty much all you’ve got. With that said, it gets the job done and makes up in the clubhouse effect.
The Canyon Creek only has one wave slide, but it’s pretty neat that it provides cover for the picnic table below.
With three swing positions, the Canyon Creek is great for multiple kids. The crossbeam is not as thick as I’d like in heavy duty sets, so I’d pay particular attention to the beam if you have 3 larger children wanting to swing at the same time. The swing set comes with the net mesh seat for lounging as well. Be warned, it’s not very large, so it’s primarily a good fit for young kids under supervision.
Social Play Accessories
Very cool clubhouse feel on the Canyon Creek, not to mention the picnic table and pretend grill. This swing set screams for kids being together and enjoying each other. I highly recommend you encourage that interaction and maybe even take a moment to teach your kids about grilling and outdoor cooking.
The Canyon Creek encourages hospitality more than most swing sets.
Solo Play Accessories
With the chalkboard and spyglass, kids can certainly pretend on their own, but generally this playset doesn’t offer a lot of discoverable solo options.
Roof & Kit Options
This swing set comes standard with a wood roof and no real other options. You may want to replace the nest/mesh swing seat for another option or infant bucket seat, but other than that, this swing set comes pretty much finished.
Price & Value
I think overall the Canyon Creek has some solid value. The cheapest options out there will run you $800-1000 for a couple of swings and basic elements; at $1350-$1400, the Canyon Creek definitely levels up the accessories, third swing position, and color scheme.
Our Canyon Creek verdict: Great overall value on this playset. I’m not in love with Backyard Discovery’s warranty, which actually decreases over time. We will explain more in that warranty section, but it’s our main reason this swing set doesn’t get a 5 for value.
The primary thing I look at with value is if the swing set generally matches what you pay for it. The Canyon Creek is no premium playset, so you can’t expect it to hold up like the heavy duty options out there.
Backyard Discovery makes a pretty solid playset, tending towards the cheaper end of the spectrum, but they work to make up for it in the features. Granted, those features won’t do you much good if wood splits or the kids just outgrow the weight or age limitations of a set. The Canyon Creek does a decent job of keeping the kids’ interest.
If you purchase this swing set through Backyard Discovery, shipping is included in the price, but you’ll want to know that there aren’t many companies in the industry that provide free returns. Backyard Discovery is no exception, requiring you to cover shipping costs for returns, which could cost as much as $300-400. On top of that, you’ll be charged a re-stocking fee, which generally approximates that amount the company spent on your “free” shipping.
As noted throughout the Backyartisan, buying swing sets online is definitely a cost effective way to go, but it isn’t without it’s policies and expenses.
You should expect a professional to charge roughly $500-800 to install this playset, and that’s probably not too bad at around $50-80 per hour for a couple of experienced folks. Of course, this probably is a set that most handy and organized folks can take care of in 2 days.
Okay, here’s where I get a little side-eyed about the value. The wood, hardware, and accessories come with a 1-year warranty from the date of purchase. That’s basically it. From there, the wood is warranted by on a sliding (no pun intended) scale. So after the first year, you have to pay 20% of the replacement cost, 40% after year 2, and so on until it’s no longer covered after year 5.
The warranty doesn’t cover shipping costs as well. So yeah, this warranty is meh. You’ve got your typical outs from the companies side where they hold the discretion to reject it for any reason, including sprinkler damage, bugs, etc. that aren’t their responsibility.
The Canyon Creek made our Short List of the best backyard playsets of 2021.
The Canyon Creek by Backyard Discovery is a solid swing set option at a lower price point that covers your basics, adds a few accessories, and really feels enticing for the neighborhood clubhouse.
For the price, this is a decent swing set and will keep your kids entertained for quite a few years with the fun accessories and some potential hangout spots. While keeping the tighter overall use, you’ll still be able to add more fun items to the backyard.
Thanks for reading up on our comprehensive review of the Canyon Creek swing set by Backyard Discovery!